As the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame moves into its fourth year of existence, it is time to open the fan-driven voting process for “Modern Era” players – those greats who retired in the last 40 years.
Of course, one important prerequisite remains – the ballot of names for you to consider.
To that end, the 2017 edition of the “Red Ribbon Committee” of Cardinals baseball experts met recently. Our mission was to evaluate the merits of over 20 former team greats, with the goal of whittling that list down to somewhere around a third.
That is never an easy job with so many more deserving candidates than votes allowed.
Modern Era fan vote is here
On Friday, the Cardinals disclosed the names of the 2017 Modern Era finalists - seven individuals established by the committee’s voting distribution.
They are Steve Carlton, Keith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Tim McCarver, Mark McGwire, Edgar Renteria and Scott Rolen. Two are assured of entering the Cardinals Hall in 2017.
Fans will select the winners from this list via an online voting process that will run from now through April 14 at cardinals.com/HOF. The pair will be among the fourth elected class to be enshrined into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in August.
When inducted, they will join the 2016 fan vote winners Chris Carpenter and Joe Torre, the other 2016 honorees, Terry Moore and Sam Breadon, along with the 30 prior Hall of Fame members.
McCarver is making his Cardinals Hall of Fame voting debut for 2017. Matt Morris fell short in committee votes and did not return to the ballot this year, however, he could return later. In fact, Carlton is back on the slate after a one-year absence.
Among other former Cardinals greats considered in the secret ballot process are outfielders Vince Coleman, George Hendrick, Brian Jordan and Ray Lankford and infielders Tom Herr, Jose Oquendo and Garry Templeton. Pitchers also under consideration for the Modern Era fan ballot included Joaquin Andujar, Al Hrabosky, Joe Magrane, Jeff Suppan, Lee Smith, John Tudor and Todd Worrell.
Two other potential Hall additions
The “Red Ribbon” committee of Cardinals baseball experts has one other annual task. 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.
The merits of eight very strong candidates from St. Louis’ rich baseball history were considered in depth. They are first basemen Orlando Cepeda and Bill White, third basemen Whitey Kurowski and Pepper Martin, outfielder Ray Blades and pitchers 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 2017.
These two final selections - the “Veteran Era” and the ownership selection – will be announced along with identities of the two “Modern Era” ballot winners.
A personal perspective
While it will be entirely up to the fans to select the two “Modern Era” honorees, my top two selections would be Hernandez and McGwire. (I also backed Hernandez in 2016.) However, I would certainly not count out any of the seven, a number of whom are likely to enter the Hall in future years.
I also do not know which “Veteran” will go into the Cardinals Hall this year, but my top vote was again cast for Pepper Martin, same as in 2016. “The Wild Horse of the Osage” was one of the engines driving the highly-successful Gas House Gang of the 1930s, leading the club to four World Series appearances and two titles. His star shined brightest on the big stage, as Martin still holds the franchise World Series records for batting average and doubles and is second all-time in hits, runs and steals.
My ownership selection candidates (if I had a choice) would include team owner from 1911 to 1916, Helene Britton, long-time equipment manager Butch Yatkeman and pitching coach extraordinaire Dave Duncan. "Lady Bee" is a primary subject of a very informative exhibit on "Women in Baseball" currently at the Cardinals Museum. As Duncan is the one of the three still with us, I would give him the 2017 nod.
What is next?
Now that voting is open, please do participate. It is easy and logical to think that one vote does not matter, but it does. For example, last year, just two hundredths of one percent separated the second and third-place candidates – with one getting in and the other not. Just a handful of votes could have swung the 2016 election in the opposite direction.
Here are the key dates to remember. The 2017 Class will be announced on Friday, April 28 during a Hall of Fame announcement special on FOX Sports Midwest, and also in a pre-game ceremony at Busch Stadium that evening. The formal enshrinement ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 26, culminating the Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
For details on each of the seven Modern Era candidates during the St. Louis segment of their careers, check out the following:
Steve Carlton (#CarltonHOF)
Years: 1965 – 1971 77-62, 3.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Steve Carlton was a three-time All-Star in seven seasons with Cardinals. He had 66 complete games and 16 shutouts as a Cardinal and was a 20-game winner in 1971. “Lefty” was a member of the 1967 World Series championship team where he helped the club capture the pennant with 14 regular season wins and followed that up with 13 wins in 1986 as the organization claimed its second consecutive National League pennant. Carlton finished second in National League with a 2.17 ERA in 1969.
Keith Hernandez (#HernandezHOF)
Years: 1974 – 1983 .299/.385/.448, 1217 H, 265 2B, 81 HR, 595 RBI, 662 R
Keith Hernandez played 10 seasons with the Cardinals, winning six straight Gold Gloves from 1978-1983 at first base. He was a National League co-MVP in 1979, batting a league leading .344 with 11 HR and 105 RBI. The two-time All-Star was a member of the 1982 World Championship team and batted .299 that season with 94 RBI.
Jason Isringhausen (#IzzyHOF)
Years: 2002 – 2008 217 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Jason Isringhausen spent seven seasons with the Cardinals. During his time with the team, the Cardinals won the Central Division in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with World Series appearances in 2004 and 2006, winning the World Series in 2006. He registered a National League-leading 47 saves in 2004, tying the franchise record which Lee Smith set, until Trevor Rosenthal broke the record in 2015. An All-Star in 2005, “Izzy” still holds the franchise record for saves with 217, and is sixth with 401 appearances with St. Louis.
Tim McCarver (#McCarverHOF)
Years: 1959 – 1961, 1963 – 1969, 1973 – 1974 .272/.329/.388, 1029 H, 66 HR, 453 RBI
Tim McCarver began his major league career in St. Louis and notched three World Series appearances (1964, 1967, 1968) and two All-Star Game selections (1966, 1967) during his 12 years with the Cardinals. An all-around talent behind the plate, he led the National League in triples in 1966 (13), fielding percentage for catchers in 1965 and 1967 and finished second in National League MVP voting in 1967. In Cardinals World Series play, McCarver ranks second in hits (23), third in RBI (11) and walks (10), first in triples (3), fifth in batting average (.311), and is the only catcher in franchise history to have caught two title-winning World Series Game 7’s.
Mark McGwire (#McGwireHOF)
Years: 1997 – 2001 .270/.427/.683, 220 HR, 473 RBI, 1.111 OPS
Mark McGwire finished his playing career in 2001 with St. Louis after joining the club via trade on July 31, 1997. In 1998, McGwire captured the world’s attention with the “Race for the Record,” breaking Major League Baseball’s previous single-season home run total of 61 set by Roger Maris by hitting 70 homers. He blasted 220 career home runs with the Cardinals, ranking sixth in franchise history, and lead the Majors in home runs in both 1998 and 1999 (65), the top two season totals in Cardinals history. He set the Cardinals single season walk mark with 162 in 1998 and had back-to-back seasons of 147 RBI in ’98 and ’99, ranking third in Cardinals history. He was a three-time All-Star while with St. Louis (1998–2000) and won a Silver Slugger award in 1998.
Edgar Renteria (#RenteriaHOF)
Years: 1999 – 2004 .290/.347/.420, 451 RBI, 207 2B, 148 SB
Edgar Renteria played six seasons with the Cardinals and was named a National League All-Star three times (2000, 2003, 2004). The shortstop won two Gold Gloves while with St. Louis in 2002 and 2003, and three Silver Slugger Awards in 2000, 2002 and 2003. Renteria batted .330 with St. Louis in 2003, the all-time Cardinals single-season leader for a shortstop, as are his 47 doubles that season. He drove in his single-season high 100 runs in 2003 which rank second among all St. Louis shortstops, and his 83 RBI in 2002 are his second highest career total. Renteria stole 37 bases his first season with the Cardinals and his 148 steals while with St. Louis are second-highest in franchise history for a shortstop.
Scott Rolen (#RolenHOF)
Years: 2002 – 2007 .286/.370/.510, 173 2Bs, 111 HR, 453 RBI
In his five plus seasons with the Cardinals, Scott Rolen dominated the hot corner winning Gold Gloves in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006, and a Silver Slugger award in 2002. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and named to the All-Busch Stadium team as the third baseman by vote of fans. Rolen hit a career high 49 doubles in 2003 and had 48 doubles during the team’s 2006 World Series championship season. In 2004, Rolen batted .314 which ranked second among National League third basemen and was second on the team, a year in which the club had four players with an average above .300. Following the 2004 season, Rolen finished fourth in National League MVP voting. Rolen was a big contributor during the postseason with St. Louis. He batted .310 (9 for 29) during the National League Championship Series vs. Houston in 2004, including his two-run home run off Roger Clemens in the 6th inning of Game 7 that plated the pennant-clinching run. In 2006, Rolen helped the club to its 10th World Championship, closing out the postseason with a 10-game hitting streak (.351, 13 for 37) that began in Game 3 of the NLCS vs. the New York Mets.
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