As the new St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame moves into its third year of existence, 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 2016 edition of the “Red Ribbon Committee” of Cardinals baseball experts met on Friday to evaluate the merits of two dozen former team greats, with the goal whittling that list down to somewhere around a third. That was no easy job with more deserving candidates that votes allowed.
While I share the names of the players voted upon, I could not provide the results even if I wanted to. The ballots were kept secret and tallies were not disclosed to the voters. We will not have to wait long to learn the winners, however.
On Monday 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 – which were established by the committee’s voting distribution.
Fans will then select just two from the list via an online voting process that will run from early March through mid-April. The pair will be among the third elected class to be enshrined into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in August.
When inducted, they will join the 2015 fan vote winners Ted Simmons and Bob Forsch, the other 2015 honorees, Curt Flood and George Kissell, and the 26 prior Hall of Fame members.
Six of the 24 2016 “Modern Era” candidates who made the 2015 fan ballot would seem to have a fair chance of returning for another shot with voters. They are first basemen Keith Hernandez, Mark McGwire and Joe Torre, shortstop Edgar Renteria and pitchers Steve Carlton and Matt Morris.
However, four recently-retired first-timers join the other “Modern Era” candidates and may give the others a run for their money for a spot on the 2016 fan ballot. The quartet of teammates from the 2000’s are pictured above: third baseman Scott Rolen and pitchers Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen and Jeff Suppan. Two others placed in the mix for the first time are infielder Jose Oquendo and outfielder Brian Jordan.
Other prior contenders remaining under ballot consideration are outfielders Vince Coleman, George Hendrick and Ray Lankford, infielders Tom Herr and Garry Templeton and catcher Tim McCarver.
Pitchers also eligible to be voted onto the fan ballot are Joaquin Andujar, Al Hrabosky, Lee Smith, John Tudor and Todd Worrell. Joe Magrane is also a new addition.
Again, somewhere between six and 10 of the 24 aforementioned greats are expected to advance to the final round – the fan vote – with two assured of entering the Cardinals Hall in 2016.
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 in depth. They are first basemen Ripper Collins, Orlando Cepeda and Bill White, third basemen Whitey Kurowski and Pepper Martin and outfielders Ray Blades 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 2016.
These two final selections - the “Veteran Era” and the ownership selection – are expected to be announced along with the two fan-voted “Modern Era” inductees.
A personal perspective
While it will be entirely up to the fans to select the two “Modern Era” honorees, my top two selections are Carpenter and Hernandez. However, I would handicap new ballot additions Carpenter and Rolen as the likely fan favorites.
I also do not know which “Veteran” will go into the Cardinals Hall this year, but my top vote was cast for Pepper Martin. All this recent talk about nicknames for new reliever Seung-hwan Oh cannot be topped by “The Wild Horse of the Osage”. Not to mention the fact that Martin was one of the leaders of the highly-successful Gas House Gang of the 1930s.
Finally, it is ultimately up to Bill DeWitt Jr. and DeWitt III to make the final, fourth choice. All I could do was lobby on behalf of former Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, often overshadowed by his general manager Branch Rickey, but an important force in franchise history his own right. Six World Championships under Breadon’s ownership says it all.
At the proper time, I will be back with another article on the merits of the short list of “Modern Era” candidates that will make the 2016 Cardinals Hall of Fame ballot along with voting information.
Monday update: The eight making up the 2016 Modern Era fan ballot: Carpenter, Isringhausen, Hernandez, McGwire, Morris, Renteria, Rolen, Torre.
Special for The Cardinal Nation members: 2016 Cardinals Top Prospects – Behind the Numbers
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