SAN DIEGO, CA – After 27 seasons of operation, there is no member of the Colorado Rockies organization in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the only of the 30 MLB franchises with this unfortunate distinction.
On Sunday night, the 16-member Modern Era Baseball Committee elected just two of the ten finalists to Cooperstown, neither of whom ever suited up in the purple pinstripes
Before the live announcement on MLB Network that catcher Ted Simmons and the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association Marvin Miller will be enshrined next year on July 26, two former Rockies had the opportunity to stake claim to becoming the first: outfielders Dale Murphy and Dwight Evans.
Murphy made his mark with Atlanta for fifteen seasons, winning back-to-back MVP Awards in ‘82 and ‘83. The center fielder from BYU made seven All-Star Teams, won five Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers.
Finishing with 398 career home runs, Murphy is one of five players from the inaugural 1993 club to find their way onto a ballot. Not only did he receive more than 5% of the votes required to stay on the ballot for multiple seasons – only players Larry Walker and Todd Helton can make such claim for the franchise – but he remained on the ballot for a full fifteen years. (The maximum is now 10 years.)
Evans, Don Baylor’s hitting coach in 1994, stayed on the ballot for three years after a twenty-year career primarily with Boston. Dewey won eight Gold Gloves in right field and, according to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS metric for qualifying Hall of Fame worthiness, is considered the 15th greatest player at the position, just behind Walker and Tony Gwynn and ahead of other Hall of Famers such as Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero.
Maybe somewhat promising is the election of Simmons, who fell off the ballot after one year by receiving less than 5% of votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Before his impressive 21-year career with St. Louis, Milwaukee and Atlanta, the Michigan native earned a football scholarship from the University of Colorado before being a first-round selection.
Miller was elected as the first head of the MLBPA in 1966 and quickly changed the game and all of professional sports over the next decade. It began with increasing the minimum salary by 25% in 1970 and improving the morale of ballplayers that had been beaten down by ownership citing the reserve clause that tied them to their teams for the perpetuity of their career.
In 1971, he counseled Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood in a landmark Supreme Court case against the reserve clause. Though Flood lost the case, it became the trial ground for what became the advent of free agency in 1975 when the Dodgers’ Andy Messersmith and Orioles Dave McNally played an entire season without signing their contracts. An arbiter made the two pitchers free agents and baseball’s economic structure was forever changed.
With several weeks remaining and hundreds of ballots left to be cast, Walker is in the final year of his Hall of Fame eligibility on the BBWAA ballot. If he does not receive the required the 75 percent, all is not lost. He can gain entrance into Cooperstown in future years via committee similar to Simmons and Miller.
The only hope is that Walker wouldn’t have to wait 25 more years like Simmons or until he passes away, such as the case was with Miller.