As the new St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame moves into its second year of operation, the fan-driven voting process for “Modern Era” players is almost upon us. Of course, one important prerequisite remains – the ballot of names to consider.
To that end, the 2015 version of the “Red Ribbon Committee” of Cardinals baseball experts met on Friday to evaluate the merits of 19 former team greats, with the goal whittling that list down to somewhere between a third and a half.
The committee has one very important addition this year, a third Hall of Famer in Whitey Herzog. Along with Tony La Russa and Red Schoendienst, almost eight decades of Cardinals baseball was covered with a first-hand level of experience that made the process easier and far more enjoyable than simply reviewing words on paper.
While I know the names of the players voted upon, the actual results were not disclosed to the voters. We will not have to wait long to learn the winners, however. On Saturday morning, during his Winter Warm-Up presentation, team president Bill DeWitt III will disclose the names of the finalists - somewhere between six and 10 individuals – to be set by the committee’s voting distribution.
Via an online voting process that will run from early March through mid-April, fans will select just two from the list. They will be among the second elected class to be enshrined into the Cardinals Hall of Fame on August 15.
Once inducted, they will join the 2014 fan vote winners Jim Edmonds and Willie McGee, the other 2014 honorees, Marty Marion and Mike Shannon, and the 22-person inaugural team Hall of Fame members.
Six of the 19 2015 “Modern Era” candidates were on the 2014 fan ballot and would seem to have the best chances of returning for another shot with voters. They are hitters Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Ted Simmons and Joe Torre and pitchers Bob Forsch and Matt Morris.
Among the other “Modern Era” candidates competing for a spot on the 2015 fan ballot are outfielders Vince Coleman, George Hendrick and Ray Lankford, infielders Tom Herr, Edgar Renteria (in his first year eligible) and Garry Templeton and catcher Tim McCarver.
Pitchers also under consideration for the fan ballot are Joaquin Andujar, Steve Carlton, Al Hrabosky, Lee Smith, John Tudor and Todd Worrell.
Again, somewhere between six and 10 of the 19 aforementioned are expected to advance to the final round – the fan vote – with two assured of entering the Cardinals Hall in 2015.
The “Red Ribbon” committee of Cardinals baseball experts had one other task on Friday. After considerable discussion, via another secret ballot, we voted in one individual from the “Veteran Era” category – those having completed their careers more than 40 years ago.
10 very strong candidates from St. Louis’ rich baseball history were considered. They are first basemen Orlando Cepeda and Bill White, catcher Walker Cooper, third basemen Whitey Kurowski and Pepper Martin and outfielders Curt Flood and Terry Moore. Pitchers voted upon are Harry Brecheen, Mort Cooper and Bill Doak.
The final annual inductee may be an important figure from team history, such as a coach, broadcaster or member of the front office. This selection, if made, will be done at the club’s discretion and would be the fourth member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
These two final selections, the “Veteran Era” and the ownership selection, will be announced along with the two fan-voted “Modern Era” inductees at the end of April.
A personal perspective
While it will be up to the fans to select the two “Modern Era” honorees, my preference is indicated in the photo above – Bob Forsch and Ted Simmons. I also do not know which “Veteran” will go into the Cardinals Hall this August, but my top vote was cast for Curt Flood. Finally, it is ultimately up to Bill DeWitt Jr. to make the final, fourth choice. All I could do was lobby on behalf of Cardinals coaching legend George Kissell. I hope that was enough!
I will be back soon with another article on my view of the merits of the short list of “Modern Era” candidates that make the 2015 Cardinals Hall of Fame ballot along with voting information.
Saturday morning update
Eight names will be on the Modern Era ballot: Simmons, Torre, Forsch, McGwire, Morris, Hernandez, Renteria and Carlton.
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