By Dick Flavin
Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate
and New York Times Best Selling Author
THE HALL OF FAME VOTE AND THE RED SOX
The votes are in and we know who is going to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
next summer. But here is the question all diehard Red Sox fans have: How did the Sox
The big Red Sox winner was David Ortiz who won’t even be on the ballot until 2022.
The fact that Edgar Martinez was elected and Harold Baines was chosen by the veterans
committee makes Big Papi a shoe-in as soon as he’s eligible. Martinez and Baines, like
Ortiz, were primarily designated hitters. Their selection has removed the Hall of Fame
stigma of being a DH. You can start making plans now for Papi’s induction ceremony in
July of 2022.
Then there is the fascinating case of former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. He finished
ahead of everyone who was not elected this year with 259 votes or 60.9% (319 votes, or
75%, was needed to gain entry). Schilling is a controversial character but there can be no
doubting that he was a terrific big-game pitcher. His post-season record of 11 wins and
only 2 losses is proof of that; and his famous “bloody sock” game in the 2004 ALCS
against the Yankees has assured his place in baseball immortality if not in Cooperstown.
He has three more years of eligibility left but getting over the 75% hump will be a
struggle because of his controversial rightwing political views. His inflammatory tweets
have made him radioactive to a lot of people, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact
that he was a heckuva pitcher. Then there is the matter of what team’s cap he would wear
on his Hall of Fame plaque. He won two World Series (2004 and 2007) while with the
Red Sox, and he also won one with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001); but he spent the
bulk of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Knowing Schilling, if it were up to him
he’d probably choose a Make America Great Again cap.
Finishing just behind Schilling with 253 votes was another old Red Sox pitcher, Roger
Clemens. He was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher before steroids were on anyone’s radar,
but he is lumped together with Barry Bonds as an assumed user. Both would be in
Cooperstown if steroids had never been invented, but both will have a devil of a time
getting past the 75% barrier in the few years they have left on the ballot.
In 11 th place with just 97 votes, or only 22.8%, was our favorite man-child, Manny
Ramirez. Manny was caught, not once but twice, violating baseball’s drug policy. It
brought his career to an ignominious halt, not exactly the way you want to make your
exit. The violations occurred after he left the Red Sox but they left people wondering
what he might have been sprinkling on his Wheaties when he was living at the Ritz-
Carleton. Manny has Hall of Fame worthy statistics, 555 home runs, 1,831 runs batted in,
and an average of .312, but he also has those two violations on his rap sheet and not much
hope of getting into Cooperstown without buying a ticket.
Two other old Red Sox players were on the ballot for the first – and last – time. Kevin
Youkilis and Derek Lowe were both very good players but both went for the horse collar
with no votes. Candidates need at least 5% to remain on the ballot so it’s over and out for
Youk and Lowe. Both, however, have the consolation of being members in good standing
of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
A word about the man who became the first to be elected unanimously this year, Mariano
Rivera. He was the center of attention in a great Fenway Park moment some years ago.
I’m not referring to the game-tying hit he gave up in the fourth game of the 2004 ALCS,
the one that launched the Red Sox on their historic come-back from an 0-3 deficit to
victory and the first World Series championship they’d won in 86 years. No, I mean what
happened the following opening day at Fenway Park. The Yankees were the Red Sox
opponents that day, and, as is traditional in opening day ceremonies, every player on both
teams was introduced. When Rivera’s name was called and he emerged from the dugout,
the sold-out crowd, remembering that it was the great Rivera who had given up that
game-tying hit the previous October, let out a huge mock cheer. He didn’t just take it in
stride, he seized the moment; grinning broadly, he took off his cap and waved it merrily
at the crowd. Suddenly, almost magically, the mock cheer morphed into one of respect
and admiration. It was extraordinary. From that day forward, he was a Fenway Park
favorite; still feared because he was so good, but always admired.
His sterling reputation led me to pen a piece of doggerel which, if you’ve read this far,
I’ll now foist upon you.
I have to admit that I get the crankies
When somebody mentions the damn New York Yankees.
I just do not like them; it’s one of my gripes.
They strut around wearing their fancy pin-stripes.
There is one exception, someone I don’t blame;
A prince of a fellow, Rivera’s his name.
He’s a wonderful guy, the finest you’ll meet.
He helps poor old ladies while crossing the street.
You can’t help but like him, although he’s a foe.
He top notch, a class act, he’s Mariano.
In closing out ballgames, well, its understood,
He’s the best of all time. The guy is that good.
Were he not a Yankee he’d rate an A plus.
Good luck, Mariano, but not aganst us.