The Future of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Each year, debate ensues during the Hall of Fame voting and, each year, questions arise about the future of the process. With the current drug controversy surrounding the game today and as players slowly but surely become eligible for enshrinement, how will this affect the hobby?
Well, the HOF designation may not mean something to Roger Clemens, as he so clearly explained during a mini tirade at a press conference in January, but it does mean something to collectors. Hobbyists will often build their collections around the HOF baseball theme. That designation can take the collectibles of a marginally-popular player and make them a necessary component to a collection.
I am sure that most of the readers know exactly what I am talking about. Players like Shoeless Joe Jackson do not need enshrinement in Cooperstown to validate them as players, nor do Jackson collectibles need that designation to remain popular with hobbyists. He remains popular with or without the Hall's blessing because of his level of play and compelling story. Even though many others like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle are enshrined, the HOF designation didn't make them legends, it simply confirmed it.
Then, on the other hand, there are players like Bill Mazeroski and Don Sutton that benefit more from enshrinement because it helps shed light on their accomplishments since they were relatively underappreciated during their careers. It reminds me a lot of what occurs within the film industry. There are so many great movies that failed at the box office but, if they are lucky enough to be nominated for or win an Oscar, the post ceremony buzz brings attention to the film.
Afterwards, moviegoers end up catching these films when they are re-released in theaters or come out on DVD. The appreciation is delayed but, hey, it's better late than never. Many of these films would never be viewed by the vast majority of movie fans had it not been for that Academy Award designation. There are some films that shatter box office records, yet never win Oscars. There are others that succeed in both areas but there are always those less flashy films that need that boost from the Academy to bring attention to their excellence.
It is no different in baseball or with baseball collectibles.
With all the current controversy in baseball over performance enhancing drug use, it remains to be seen whether the writers will snub more and more players. If that is the case, and so far it has been, it will be interesting to see if some collectors alter their collecting themes or simply expand them. There are many excellent or memorable players who will never be enshrined in Cooperstown but it is up to the hobbyists to determine whether or not these players deserve a place in their collection.
Players like Gil Hodges and Roger Maris don't need help from the Hall but it will be interesting to see if the same will be true of players that took the field during this era. These players were, in essence, presumed guilty. Even if some of them are guilty of using these drugs, it will be the collectors that will ultimately decide their fate within the hobby.
Never get cheated,
Editor In Chief
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