MLB Swings and Misses With Hometown Heroes

Major League Baseball has fanned once again in an attempt to promote the great history of the game. Their latest promotional attempt is called Hometown Heroes. Five players are nominated for each of the 30 current teams and you get to vote for one. It looks like there may have been an attempt to mix in the present with the past and for franchises that have been in multiple cities to represent each location. I don’t know who nominated the players or how they were chosen but some of the choices are real head scratchers. Some guys appear for more than one team. You can only wear one hat on the HOF plaque so you should only be able to be nominated for one team.

Conspicuously missing from the ballot are Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. I can see McGwire not making it since the A’s have a solid set of nominees although they have some glaring omissions as well as I note later. And he didn’t play very long for St. Louis. Sammy Sosa, the only player with three 60+ homer seasons didn’t make it for the Cubs. I’m not sure who doesn’t make it in his place but he should have been a selection. Rafael Palmeiro got beat out by Rusty Greer, Mark Teixeira and Jim Sundberg. I guess since Raffy got busted baseball doesn’t want to acknowledge his accomplishments. Barry’s on the ballot, however.

I’m not going to analyze every team because some are no brainers like the Yankees and some just don’t have heroes like the Devil Rays. Here are a few that I think could be different. Let’s start with the Los Angeles, California, Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their nominees are Jim Abbot, Don Baylor, Rod Carew, Chuck Finley and Tim Salmon. Jim Abbot over Nolan Ryan? You’ve got to be kidding me. But Noley wasn’t left off the ballot completely. He shows up twice – for the Astros and the Rangers. His selection for the Astros apparently kept Cesar Cedeno off the ballot. And Larry Dierker was chosen ahead of J.R. Richard. The Indians or whoever nominated their players must feel that they haven’t had a good player in 47 years. The most recent player of their group is Larry Doby who retired in 1959. Where’s Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton or Jim Thome?

The Philadelphia, Kansas City, Oakland A’s have an interesting choice of players – Dennis Eckersley, Lefty Grove, Rickey Henderson, Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson. All great and four of the five are HOFers with Rickey a sure bet to be inducted. However, I don’t know if any of them are considered the greatest Athletic of all-time. How about Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons? Surely there has to be a spot for one them?

Whoever selected the Braves nominees obviously was high or just plain ignorant of baseball history. There’s no way Eddie Mathews should have to take a backseat to Chipper Jones. That’s an insult to one of the greatest third baseman of all-time. And where’s Greg Maddux? He only won 3 Cy Young Awards for the Braves.

The team that takes the cake for the most ridiculous and harebrained nominations is the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. Certainly Andre Dawson and Tim Raines are nominated. Wait, did I miss read the ballot? I don’t see them. I see Gary Carter, Rusty Staub, Jose Vidro, Livan Hernandez and Brian Schneider. Brian Schneider? Who does he have pictures of? His 6 year career numbers don’t even match Hack Wilson’s 1930 numbers. This is the most ridiculous nomination since Ross Perot selected James Stockdale as his running mate in 1992.

This promotion was designed to get the casual fan to take interest in baseball not to honor the greats of the game. The nominees obviously were selected based on name recognition for the younger generation of fans (except for the Indians.)

Some fans last night at the Metrodome made good use of the ballots by making paper airplanes and landing them on the field. One nosedived and stuck in the turf (the ballot, not the fan) just to the left of White Sox centerfielder Brian Anderson. Others took the time to select their heroes. One guy asked me whom I thought he should vote for on the White Sox. I said, “Are you kidding? Frank, without a doubt!” I watched over the guy’s shoulder in front of me as he made his selections. As he neared the Pirates my heart was racing to see who he’d select and much to my delight he selected none other than Captain Will. I was so moved that I almost bought the guy a beer.

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5 Responses to “MLB Swings and Misses With Hometown Heroes”

  1. Completely from memory, without consulting any numbers (how’s that for a disclaimer?): My Angel nominees wouold be Jim Fregosi, Nolan Ryan, Brain Downing, Troy Percival and Tim Salmon.

    Rod Carew, Fast Frank, Dean Chance, Mike Witt and Garret Anderson would likely be my next five.

    And my vote would be the guy I wrote in: The Express.

  2. Livian Hernandez?? Try Steve Rogers… won 158 with a 3.17 ERA.

    and played for the Expos for his whole 13 yr career (if THAT’S not a hero what is?).

  3. Frank Thomas, Luke Appling, Eddie Collins, Ted Lyons, & Red Faber would be my White Sox choices. But I TOTALLY agree this Hometown Heroes is a dumb idea!

  4. I heard an interview with Ozzie Smith on MLB’s Stayin’ Hot with Seth and Bone.

    He was on there on behalf of MLB to promote Hometown Heroes. I didn’t expect either Seth or Bone (Daryl “Hambone” Hamilton to throw Ozzie any curves and they didnt.

    My cynical take on the whole HH thing is that it’s just a money making marketing for MLB and DHL (MLB’s marketing partner in the whole thing).

    Just like the voting for two extra All-Star players (brought to you by Monster.com).

    And for the record and off the top of my head, here are my choices for my Cub hometown heroes:

    Ernie Banks
    Ryne Sandberg
    Three Finger Brown
    Frank Chance
    Ron Santo
    Billy Williams

    Sorry, couldn’t leave it at 5. For some reason, I couldn’t put Sosa on there.

    And I’m not really a Sosa hater either.

  5. Hometown hereos was probably thought up by the same guy who wanted to sell advertising on the bases. Sure, the Yankees have one Hometown Hero-same as the D-backs.

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