Puckett, Mattingly, Concepcion due in Hall of Fame

December 12, 2000 10:24 AM
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Eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are currently sending in their ballots for the Hall of Fame election, the results of which will be announced next month. To win election, a former player must receive at least 75 percent of the votes cast. Although you can vote for as many as ten candidates (but no more than ten), I voted for just three, two of whom were on the ballot for the first time””Kirby Puckett and Don Mattingly. The third man I voted for was Dave Concepcion.

Despite having his career cut short due to an eye injury, Puckett played 12 years for the Minnesota Twins and in that time posted a .318 career batting average, was on ten All-Star teams and had seasons in which he led the league in batting (1989), in hits (1987, 1989, 1992) and RBIs (1994).

Mattingly played 14 seasons for the New York Yankees and during the 1980s was simply the best player in the American League. He won the A.L. MVP award in 1985, played on six All-Star teams, won nine Gold Gloves, was named A.L. Player of the Year by The Sporting News three times and named Major League Player of the Year by The Sporting News in 1985. He ranks third all-time in fielding percentage for first baseman (.996). His career batting average was .307.

Concepcion is on the ballot for the eighth time. He played 19 seasons, all with the Cincinnati Reds, during which period he batted .300 three times, played on nine All-Star teams and won five Gold Gloves. He was as good as any shortstop this writer has ever seen.

Cradle Robbing

There seems to be no end to what colleges will do in the business of recruiting basketball players. The LaFayette (Ind.) Courier reported that ninth-graders Robert Vaden and Desmond Gladis of Indianapolis Cathedral High School gave oral commitments to Purdue last week. The players confirmed the commitments with statements to the press. Should they follow through, the players will be in Purdue’s Class of 2008. Be it noted, however, that oral commitments are not binding. The players can’t make it official until the "early" signing period of 2003, by which time they may feel like committing elsewhere””other colleges have reportedly already offered scholarships””or going to the NBA.

Theater of the Absurd

Those who judged Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to be merely greedy and ruthless were surprised when after firing coach Norv Turner; he announced that Pepper Rodgers would henceforth be the team’s director or player personnel. The naming of Rodgers provoked howls of merriment throughout the NFL and showed that Snyder has a fine sense of humor. The 68-year-old Rodgers’ only previous connection with the NFL has been as a spectator at games. His surfacing with the Redskins might be considered a resurrection as many assumed he was long since dead and buried. Snyder’s first thought was to install Rodgers as coach but he was talked out of it. Instead he named Redskin assistant Terry Robiskie as interim coach. The key word here is interim as anybody who works for Snyder is employed on an interim basis. Snyder has already told Robiskie that he wants Jeff George to be the team’s No. 1 quarterback. If he has made any other personnel decisions they haven’t yet been made public. The next step is for Snyder himself to coach the team.

College football

With Florida State’s Chris Weinke winning, Oklahoma’s Josh Heupel second and Purdue’s Drew Brees third, the race for the Heisman trophy finished exactly as was predicted in this space. In faro that’s what’s known as calling the turn . . . . The selection process for the Bowl Championship Series has caused more discussion that the actual games. But there’s no point in calling for a playoff system to determine a genuine national champion, as the BCS contracts with the bowls and ABC-TV are set through 2005 . . . . The eight schools involved in the BCS games will take home a total of more than $100 million of which the players will get nothing . . . . Outside of the BCS games, there is a big bunch of bowl games in which the competing teams are no better than 6 — 5 for the regular season. It’s a safe bet that most of these games will fall far short of being sellouts . . . . We’ll preview the early bowls next week as regardless of the quality of play, there are always some worthwhile betting opportunities.