The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Hall of Fame Voting at the Neighborhood Diner

Originally, this was going to be one part of a much larger post on Hall of Fame voting by the Veteran’s Committee in 1970, but it took on a life of its own.  So I decided to turn it into a stand-alone blog-post.  It’s my version of what Hall of Fame voting must look like when the Veteran’s Committee is assembled and comes together for discussion.

Imagine, if you will, several members of the Veteran’s Committee having lunch together in a diner somewhere in up-state New York one late fall day in 1970, the day their final Hall of Fame ballots are due.

V.C. #1:  Anyone remember to bring the list?

V.C. #2:  I thought you were bringing it?

V.C.  #3:  Jesus, how we supposed to vote if nobody brought the list?

V.C.  #4:  I got the list, at least part of it.  I wrote it down on a napkin before we left ’cause I knew you boneheads would forget.

V.C.  #2:  Nice going.  Let’s see it.  (#4 hands over the list.)  Jesus, what were you eating when you wrote the list, spaghetti?  This is disgusting.

V.C. #1:  Come on, just read us the names, if you can make them out.

V.C. #2:  All right, all right, calm down.  I’m getting to it.

(Waitress come over, pours coffee into ceramic mugs, and takes their orders.)

V.C. #5:  What kind of pie you got here?

Waitress:  Chocolate cream, lemon merengue, apple, banana cream-

V.C. #5 (Cuts her off) I’ll have the banana cream.

V.C. #3:  I thought you was on a diet?

V.C. #5:  I am.  I’m just getting pie, no meat or potatoes or nothing else.  Just pie and coffee.  And anyways, bananas are healthy.

(The rest of the committee members order.  Waitress sticks her pencil behind her right ear, frowns, and leaves.)

V.C. #1:  So anyone gonna read the list, or are we just going to eat pie all day?

V.C. #2:  O.K., here we go:  There’s Hafey, Bancroft, Beckley, Marquard, Hooper, and Kelley.

(Blank stares all around.  V.C. #5 pours a thimble of coffee creamer into his black coffee, and begins to stir it with a dirty tea-spoon.)

V.C. #5:  Any of these guys got first names?

V.C. #6:  Marquard, didn’t he used to pitch?  (They all look up in surprise.  They’d forgotten he was there.)

V.C. #1:  Yeah, I think so.  And Hooper played outfield for the Red Sox back when my dad was a kid.  Dad said he was real good.  Played next to Speaker before The Babe left for New York.

V.C. #3:  Did you say Bancroft?  Who the hell was Bancroft?

V.C. #5:  Doesn’t he own that used car parts place over in Haverstraw?

V.C. #2:  That’s Bruntkoff, and I’m guessing this Bancroft guy must be dead by now.  These guys all played 60 or 80 years ago.  That’s why we’re called the freakin’ Veteran’s Committee, moron.

V.C. #4:  So anyone know anything else about Marquard other than he used to pitch?

(Waitress comes over with their lunch orders.  Passes around an arm full of dishes.  She looks over at V.C. #4.)

Waitress:  You mean Rube Marquard, the old-time baseball player?

(They all stop chewing their food and look up at her as if she’d just grown a third breast.)

V.C. #4:  Yeah, I guess.

Waitress:  Pitched for the Giants back before W.W.I.  (They continue to stare at her in anticipation of some reasonable explanation.)  My great-uncle used to pal around with him.  Got his autograph and one of his old gloves.  He used to say that in his prime, Marquard was every bit as good as Mathewson.

(She pours some more coffee and walks away.)

V.C. #1:  Well how the hell you like that?

V.C. #3:  I like it a lot.  See if I can get her phone number.

V.C.  #5:  Mathewson.  Who’s Mathewson?

V.C.  #4:  Jesus, ya donut-hole.  Maybe she should replace you on this committee.

V.C.  #6:  Mathewson was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  He’s already in The Hall.

(Pause all around.)

V.C.  #2:  Well, that’s good enough for me.  Everyone in favor of putting Marquard in The Hall say aye.

(Ayes all around.  It’s unanimous.)

V.C.  #3:  (Looking down at his plate.  A mass of tangled reddish meat drowns slowly in something white.)  Oh my God, I didn’t order this!

V.C. #4:  That’s creamed chipped beef.

V.C. #3:  I ordered Corned beef.  Not this mess of crap.

V.C. #6:  I think you told her chipped beef.

V.C. #3:  No way I’d say that.  Look at this shit.  I mean, what the hell is it, anyway?

V.C. #1:  All in favor of putting Hooper in The Hall, say aye.

V.C. #2:  Wait a minute.  Who said he was really great?

V.C.  #1: My dad. (Looks at V.C. #2 challengingly.)

V.C. #2:  (Stares back for a long moment.)  O.K., what the hell.  No use arguing about it.

V.C. #1:  As I said, all in favor of Hooper, say aye.  (Ayes all around.)

V.C. #4: Look guys, this can take all day.  I have an idea.
(Looks of relief and hopefulness all around.)

V.C. #4:  Do any of us really have any reason NOT to put these six guys in The Hall?  I mean, do we really know enough about any of them to say that they weren’t good enough?  I mean, hell, Rabbit Freakin’ Maranville is in The Hall.

(Appreciative looks all around.  V.C. #5 balancing his fork carefully, still manages to drop his last piece of pie onto the floor.)

V.C. #1:  You know, boys, he may have a point.
(Conspiratorial looks all around.)

V.C. #2:  All in favor of electing all six of these guys into The Hall, say aye, or otherwise state your objections.

(Ayes all around.  Relief flashes across each of their faces.  Waitress stops by to drop off their check.)

V.C. #3:  Waitress, I didn’t order this.  I asked for corned beef.

Waitress:  We’re out of corned beef.  (She turns and strides off to the next table.)

V.C. #3:  Well, I still ain’t eating this crap.

V.C.#2:  Anyone want to phone in our decision?

V.C. #1:  I’ll do it.  He gets up and walks over to the pay phone.

V.C. #4:  Jesus, he forgot the list again.  (Picks up the napkin to bring over to V.C. #1.)

V.C. #6:  So, who has the road map to get the rest of the way up to Cooperstown?

Blank looks all around.  V.C. #5 tries to hold in a fart, but fails loudly.  The rest get up, toss a few dollars each on the table, and begin putting on their jackets.  It’s a cold afternoon outside.  Too cold for baseball.

Waitress (film)

Image via Wikipedia


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2 thoughts on “Hall of Fame Voting at the Neighborhood Diner

  1. Wonderfully creative post (and thoroughly believable). sounds like Max (the wonderful Cat Demming) from “Two Broke Girls) was upstate before moving to Brooklyn.
    FYI from Bill James’ “The Politics of Glory” this is the list of the 1971 Veteran’s Committee members: Will Harridge, Paul Kell, Warren Giles, Charlie Gehringer, Chalres Segar, Dan Daniel, Joe Cronin, Fred Lieb, Frankie Frisch, Wait Hoyt, Bill Terry, and Roy Stockton. I’ll let you decide which is VC 1, VC 2, etc.

    • Now that’s an interesting group of Veteran’s. I’d like to have been the fly on the wall during that conversation. Thanks for the list. It helps shed some light on the kind of people involved. Not a bad group, actually.
      As always, thank you.

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