Sunday Notes: The Baseball Hall of Fame Needs a New President; Let’s Find One

Tim Mead announced earlier this month that he’ll be stepping down as President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in mid-May. Who will replace Mead in that prestigious position is unknown, and to my knowledge no names have been bandied about beyond Cooperstown itself. That being the case — and with the caveat that some are less practical than others, for a variety of reasons — let’s consider a few potential candidates.

John Thorn was the first person that came to mind when this subject was presented to me recently. Currently the Official Historian for Major League Baseball, Thorn checks all of the boxes, with one possible exception. At age 73, he doesn’t profile as a long-term fit in that role. (The soon-to-be-departing Mead — formerly the Vice President of Communications for the Los Angeles Angels — is 62, while his predecessor, Jeff Idelson, is now 56.)

Josh Rawitch. who serves as Senior Vice President, Content & Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks, strikes me as an intriguing possibility. A 1998 graduate of Indiana University, Rawitch has held multiple positions in baseball and is also an adjunct professor at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Unlike Thorn, he would profile as a long-term fit.

SABR CEO Scott Bush would likewise qualify as a long-term option. Formerly the Senior Vice President for Business Development with the Goldklang Group, as well as an Assistant General Manager for the St. Paul Saints, the 38-year-old Bush has a business background other candidates may lack.

A big-league executive I exchanged messages with opined that Bob Kendrick should be the Hall’s No. 1 candidate. The 59-year-old Kendrick is the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and has a background in marketing, so his transition would be relatively seamless. Whether he would want to leave one museum for the other — he presumably couldn’t run both — is a big question.

Claire Smith was suggested as an appealing candidate by a member of the national media. The first woman to be honored with the BBWAA’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award (now known as the BBWAA Career Excellence Award), Smith began covering the game in 1983. Her knowledge and reputation are beyond reproach, but as with Thorn, age could be an obstacle.

Other names I was presented with include Kansas City Royals VP of Communications Mike Swanson, New York Times columnist Tyler Kepner, The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, former Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington, author/columnist/researcher Rob Neyer, who is also now the Commissioner of the West Coast League, a summer collegiate baseball league, and Tyler Tumminia, a former Senior Vice President of the Goldklang Group who is currently the interim Commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League. One last suggestion — a very good one — was former SABR President Vince Gennaro, whose plethora of experience includes a strong sports-business-and-economics background.

Would any of the above be interested in replacing Mead, a move that would require not only a career change, but also relocating to a village in central New York State? It’s quite possible that the answer is no, and even if they were, how seriously would they be considered? The Hall’s 15-member Board of Directors — a group I was told is set to undergo a reorganization — may already have a list put together, and it could very well include internal candidates as well as external candidates. Who ultimately lands the position is anyone’s guess.

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Last week’s column included a few paragraphs on Tyler Glasnow being somewhat of a chess aficionado, a fact he’d shared a few days earlier on a Zoom call. This past Tuesday, I posed a follow-up question to the Tampa Bay Rays right-hander: As somebody who plays the game seriously, is the cliche “baseball is a chess match” an accurate analogy?

“Honestly, no,” responded Glasnow. “Not really for me. Maybe some guys… I don’t know. I wouldn’t compare the two. Maybe there are some similarities. I think maybe if I threw like 85 [mph]it would be much more of a chess game, but for me it’s very much like… I don’t know the analogy. But yeah, I wouldn’t say they’re like super similar… If you overthink it, or sit too long and think about your past moves and how much you sucked, that never helps.”

Glasnow is 13-3 with a 2.72 ERA and a 2.71 FIP since the start of the 2019 season. By and large, the 6-foot-8 Santa Clarita, California native doesn’t suck very often.

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Nelson Cruz went 6 for 6 against Tim Wakefield.

Frank Catalanotto went 9 for 22 against Steve Sparks.

Roberto Clemente went 19 for 55 against Phil Niekro.

Jose Canseco went 17 for 46 against Tom Candiotti.

Roy Campanella went 15 for 32 against Hoyt Wilhelm.

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Alex Cora was recently asked about athletes’ using their platforms to raise awareness of societal issues. He’s all in favor of them doing so. The Puerto Rico-born Boston Red Sox manager has expressed on multiple occasions that there’s more to life than baseball, and recent events have only confirmed that belief.

“People see us as, we just have to entertain people,” Cora told reporters. “Just stay in your area, right? Stick to sports. With coaches or players, or front office people, or even [reporters]; you guys cover sports, stick to sports. But… I believe that the more we talk about issues, the better we are as a society.

“The platform is the platform,” continued Cora. “I’m the only guy talking to the media about this right now, from the Red Sox organization. I understand that. But at the same time, I don’t have to limit my platform to be a spokesman. I can be a regular human being… to talk about issues that impact our lives. I think it’s refreshing that we live in a society that people are willing to do it.”

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A quiz:

Who was the first Black pitcher to play in a World Series game?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS ITEMS

Adrian Garrett, a catcher and outfielder for four MLB teams from 1966-1976, died Thursday at age 88. Garrett’s best seasons came in Japan — he homered 102 times for the Hiroshima Carp from 1977-1978— and he later coached and managed in the minors. His younger brother, Wayne Garrett, played 10 big-league seasons, most notably as a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets.

The Baltimore Orioles announced on Friday that they’ve hired Adrienne Roberson as their new public address announcer. She’ll be the fourth active female PA announcer in MLB, joining Renel Brooks-Moon (Giants), Marysol Castro (Mets), and Amelia Schimmel (A’s). Roberson has spent the last 17 years as the PA announcer for the Double-A Bowie Baysox.

Evan Stockton has been hired as the new radio voice of the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. A Michigan native, Stockton called games for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2019, and was with the Syracuse Mets last season.

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The answer to the quiz is Dan Bankhead, with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Ironically, he didn’t appear as a pitcher, but rather as a pinch-runner. The following year, Cleveland’s Satchel Paige became the first Black pitcher to pitch — not simply play — in a World Series game.

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March 21’s Notes column led with three of Ethan Small’s former Southeastern Conference opponents weighing in on the southpaw’s sneaky fastball and overall effectiveness. No. 4 on our 2020 Brewers Top Prospects list (this year’s list is coming shortly), Small had excelled at Mississippi State University before being taken 28th overall by Milwaukee in the 2019 draft.

JJ Bleday — No. 3 on our Miami Marlins Top Prospects list — was among those who shared his thoughts on the erstwhile Bulldog. Small wasn’t the only pitcher he told me about. Asked about the toughest arms he faced in the SEC, Bleday name-checked more than just the Brewer.

“One of them was Kyle Wright, who was on our own team,” said Bleday, who played with the Atlanta Braves righty at Vanderbilt in 2017. “I faced him a few times, and he was a very good power pitcher. Everything was out of the same slot. Kumar [Rocker] was very good. He’s another Vandy boy. One of the best sliders I’ve seen was Clarke Schmidt out of South Carolina; he’s with the Yankees now. There’s also that hard-throwing lefty who was drafted last year and made his debut with the White Sox. [Garrett Crochet] made a really big adjustment from his freshman year to when I saw him as a junior. He was in the zone and had that up-and-in fastball, and that slider away. Then there were guys like Brady Singer and Alex Faedo, so there was a good amount of talent. I’d say Schmidt and Crochet were probably the biggest challenges.”

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LATE-APRIL NOTABLES

Six Kansas City Royals pitchers have combined for seven saves this season. Greg Holland, who has a pair of wins, a 6.43 ERA and a 9.96 FIP, has two saves.

The Seattle Mariners had won 12 games going into yesterday. Left-hander Anthony Misiewicz and Rafael Montero were each credited with two of those wins, while eight other pitchers had one win each. The club’s eight losses were spread among seven different pitchers.

Per yesterday’s Mariners Game Notes, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager went into the day tied for AL lead in hard-hit balls (an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher) with 29 each.

Red Sox Rule-5 pick Garrett Whitlock retired 25 straight batters over a five-game stretch before giving up a single to Seattle’s Sam Haggerty on Friday. The former Yankees farm hand has yet to allow a run in 11-and-a-third big-league innings. He’s allowed five hits, walked one, and fanned 14.

When the A’s defeated Minnesota 13-12 in 10 innings on Wednesday, it was the fifth time in Oakland history that the team allowed at least 12 runs in a game and won. The last time was on July 20, 2009 when they overcame a 12-2 deficit to defeat the Twins 14-13.

Chicago White Sox infielder Danny Mendick is slashing .375/.524/.375 in 21 plate appearances. He’s also thrown a scoreless inning, with his slowest pitched clocked at 39.6 mph.

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Detroit Tigers reliever Tyler Alexander gave up three gophers over a three-inning stretch earlier this month, each one to a Cleveland batter. Addressing that rough patch on a Zoom call yesterday, he reasoned that “mistakes aren’t always going to get hit over the fence, [but] that’s kind of the streak I’m going through. I’m making good pitches, and throwing well, but the one or two mistakes would leave the park.”

A question by Chris McCoskey of The Detroit News had prompted those comments. Following up, I asked Alexander what — results aside — he considers a mistake.

“When I make mistakes, I tend to miss right down the middle,” Alexander replied. “I’ve been working on that. I’m trying to miss more effectively. Foe instance, I made a mistake to Franmil Reyes where I was trying to go up and in, and I missed up and away. He hit it over the fence. Up and in is a good spot to throw to him, and the way I set it up, I didn’t think he’d be able to get to the pitch up and in. But up and away is a whole different story.” [Reyes’s heat map bears that out.]

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Masahiro Tanaka got his first win in Japan since 2013 — and his 100th overall —as the Rakuten Golden Eagles edged the Seibu Lions 2-1 on Saturday. Wu Nien-Ting drove in Cory Spangenberg to plate Seibu’s lone run.

Wu Nien-Ting is slashing .290/.400/.452 with two home runs in 77 plate appearances with the Lions. The 27-year-old native of Taiwan is in his fifth NPB season.

Ryoji Kuribayashi has pitched 11 scoreless innings and has seven saves for the NPB’s Hiroshima Carp. The 24-year-old right-hander has allowed two hits, walked four, and fanned 15.

Jerry Sands is slashing .299/.391/.584 with six home runs in 92 plate appearances with the Hanshin Tigers. The 33-year-old outfielder had 100 hits, including 10 home runs, over parts of five big-league seasons before playing in the KBO in 2018 and 2019, and then taking his talents to NPB in 2019.

Kun-woo Park leads all KBO hitters with a .409 batting average. The 30-year-old Doosan Bears outfielder has 27 hits in 66 at bats. Twenty-one-year-old KT Wiz outfielder Kang Baek-ho is 29 for 71 for a .408 batting average.

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West Michigan Whitecaps broadcaster Dan Hasty was a guest on Friday’s episode of FanGraphs Audio, and one of the stories he told was solid gold. Here it is, edited for print:

“You haven’t lived until you’ve made a goose angry,” said Hasty. “It was 2015, and I was in Midland, Michigan where the Great Lakes Loons play. The hotel had a movie theater kind of across the street, but there was this big grassy field that you needed to walk through to get there. Instead of going around it, I decided to go as the crow flies.

“As I was walking, I got way too close to what I realized was a nesting Canadian goose. I was like, ‘Oh, excuse me,’ and tried to walk around it, to get out of its way. All of a sudden, from behind me, I hear kind of an angry squawk, like, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ It’s apparently Papa Goose. I was like, ‘Oh, hey, I was just leaving.’ Then he started flapping his wings and took off in my direction. I turned, and he whacked me in the back of the head hard enough to actually knock my hat off. At that point, I realized I was under attack.

“The next thing I did was try to move a little bit faster to get out of Dodge. The goose was apparently not done with me yet. He flapped his wings, squawked, and flew straight at me again. I’d never been in a situation where I’ve been attacked by an animal. Hell, I’ve never been even in as much as a fistfight. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. So my first instinct with this goose coming at me… I just took my right hand, cocked it back, and threw a haymaker. And I landed it, weirdly enough. I think that shocked the goose. It stunned him to the point where he looked around like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ I said something like, ‘You know, I’m just trying to leave.’ It tried to take off at me again, but then I think it just said, ‘You know what, forget it. It’s not worth it.’”

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

Baseball is experiencing a mental health reckoning, and Tom Verducci wrote about it at Sports Illustrated.

At Yahoo Sports, Hannah Keyser wrote about how Shohei Ohtani inspires the masses to feel the angst of pitching in the majors.

At Our Esquina, José de Jesus Ortiz delved into how Julio Urías is starting to fulfill his ace potential.

Sports as a Job’s Madison Hedding introduced us to Chanel Zapata, who serves as SABR’s Community Engagement Manager.

Even with Kim Ng’s hiring, women in baseball say that MLB has a long way to go. Joon Lee has the story at ESPN.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Six players who were drafted in the first round by the Chicago White Sox were on the club’s opening-day roster. No other team had more. The first-rounders were Tim Anderson (2013), Carlos Rodón (2014), Zack Collins (2016), Nick Madrigal (2018), Andrew Vaughn (2019), and Garrett Crochet (2020.)

Richie Ashburn led the National League with 32 stolen bases in his 1948 rookie season. The Philadelphia Phillies outfielder slashed .333/.410/.400, drew 60 walks, and went down on strikes 22 times.

Elbie Fletcher led the National League in OBP in 1940, 1941, and 1942. The Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman slashed .283/.419/.429 with a 144 wRC+ over that three-year stretch.

As a team, the Red Sox slashed .302/.385/.464 in 1950. Boston’s non-pitchers slashed .311/.394/.484. Ted Williams batted .317, his third-lowest average in his 19 seasons.

Two pitchers have had six more shutouts than losses in a season: Sandy Koufax, 11 shutouts and five losses in 1963, and Ron Guidry, nine shutouts and three losses in 1978. (per Aidan Jackson-Evans.)

On today’s date in 1970, Tommy Harper swatted a single in each of the first three frames as Milwaukee plated nine runs against a trio of Boston pitchers. Dave Bristol’s Brewers went on to stomp the Red Sox 10-4.

On today’s date in 1978, the Detroit Tigers scored three in the ninth and four in the tenth to defeat the Chicago White Sox 8-4 at Comiskey Park. Rusty Staub was in on the action, doubling home a run in the ninth and swatting a three-run homer in the deciding frame.

On April 30, 1919, Brooklyn Robins and Philadelphia Phillies played to a 9-9 tie in a game that was called after 20 innings due to darkness. Each team scored three runs in the 19th inning, and both pitchers — Brooklyn’s Burleigh Grimes and Philadelphia’s Joe Oeschger — went the distance.

Players born on this date include Ken Tatum, whose career began to go south after he beaned Baltimore’s Paul Blair — the Orioles outfielder suffered both a broken nose and a broken cheekbone — during his the right-hander’s second big-league season. Tatum had 39 saves and a 2.16 ERA with the California Angels in 1969-1970, but only a modicum of success thereafter.

Also born on today’s date was Tony Phillips, who accumulated 46.6 WAR in a career that spanned the 1982-1999 seasons. A jack of all trades — he saw action at every position except pitcher and catcher — Phillips played for six different teams, his best years coming with the Detroit Tigers. Phillips died of a heart attack in 2016 at age 56.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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tz
Member

I remember Claire Smith from her time at the Hartford Courant. If she’s at all interested in the role, she would be an excellent choice for president of the HoF.

If she doesn’t get considered simply because of her age, I would view that as age discrimination (even if it’s technically within existing law). She’s at least a decade younger than Tony La Russa, for goodness sakes.

dl80
Member
Member
dl80

I second this. And I actually wonder if the idea of retiring to a sleepy rural NY town might actually have MORE appeal to someone in their 60s or 70s than it would to someone like Neyer or Rosenthal.

Fredchuckdave
Member

Seems like there’s no way Rosenthal doesn’t already make more than the HoF president