Kuhn, 4 others elected to Baseball Hall
Vail, CO Colorado
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ” Former commissioner Bowie Kuhn was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the revamped Veterans Committee on Monday while his longtime adversary, players’ union boss Marvin Miller, was left out for the second time this year.
Former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss also were elected.
Williams, the only living candidate chosen, said he and his wife, Norma, broke down and cried when they got the call on Monday morning.
“It just blew our mind,” said Williams, who made his debut with the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox in 1967 and went on to win the 1972 and ’73 World Series with the Oakland Athletics. “Under the (voting) regime they had previously … I didn’t think anybody would get there.”
The veterans panel has been changed twice since 2001, when charges of cronyism followed the election of light-hitting glove man Bill Mazeroski. The original 15-member panel was expanded to include every living member of the Hall, but that group failed to elect anyone in three tries.
It was replaced by three separate panels ” one for players, one for managers and umpires and one for executives and pioneers, leaving Miller’s fortunes largely in the hands of the same group he once fought for player benefits such as free agency and salary arbitration.
He did not come close, receiving only three of 12 possible votes.
“I think it was rigged, but not to keep me out. It was rigged to bring some of these in,” Miller said by telephone after being informed of the results by The Associated Press. “It’s not a pretty picture.”
Manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey each missed induction by a single vote from a 16-member panel. The vets committee will not consider any players for the Hall until late next year.
Kuhn, who died in March at the age of 80, is the first commissioner elected since Happy Chandler in 1982.
“I am particularly pleased that former commissioner Bowie Kuhn is among those who have received this great honor,” current commissioner Bud Selig said. “Bowie was a close friend and a respected leader who served as commissioner during an important period in history, amid a time of change.”
O’Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season ” a baseball version of the California Gold Rush that helped open the West to the national pastime. He received the minimum nine votes necessary for induction.
“Mr. O’Malley was a visionary by opening the gates to the West Coast. He linked the entire nation to the game of baseball,” Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda said. “What a contribution he’s made.”
Williams, in fact, played 112 games as a utility man for O’Malley’s Dodgers from 1951-56, though he never appeared in a game during Brooklyn’s 1955 championship season.
Dreyfuss, who received 10 of 12 votes, helped end the longtime feud between the American and National Leagues when he and Boston owner Henry Killilea agreed to meet on the diamond after the 1903 season.
The World Series was born.
Southworth, who was chosen on 13 of 16 ballots from the panel that considered umpires and managers, won four pennants and two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Braves.
Kuhn was the game’s fifth commissioner, serving from 1969-84 and overseeing the sport when attendance tripled. During essentially the same era, Miller was leading the players to more lucrative and revolutionary gains, taking the average salary from $19,000 to $241,000 and pitching a virtual shutout against the owners in arbitration and collective bargaining.
“I was surprised that Marvin Miller did not receive the required support given his important impact on the game,” Selig said.
The 90-year-old Miller missed election by 10 votes earlier this year, when the committee included all living members of the Hall.
“It’s demeaning, the whole thing, and I don’t mean just to me. It’s demeaning to the Hall and demeaning to the people in it,” Miller said.
Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew was on the panel that examined executives and pioneers. He declined to reveal whether he voted for Miller.
“That doesn’t mean that he’s not going to get in,” Killebrew said. “It was hard because we only have a certain number of votes.”
Electors were asked to vote for no more than four candidates.
“Everybody on that list deserved to be there,” Killebrew added. “He certainly had a tremendous impact.”
In the vote earlier this year, O’Malley was supported by 44 percent and Kuhn 17 percent, while Miller received 63 percent. Among managers, Williams got 37 percent.
“There was a very open and frank discussion about each of the candidates,” said Jane Forbes Clark, the Hall of Fame chairman. “Everyone on that committee knows Marvin and respects what he did for the game. And that showed in the discussions.”
The new members will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Results of voting on eligible players by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will be released Jan. 8.
AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this story.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.