Schechter: Ernie Lombardi, immortalized too late

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on April 10, 2014:

In the tangled history of Hall of Famers immortalized by the Veterans Committee, there are many examples of deserving candidates who were denied election until after their deaths. The most recent example is Ron Santo, whose prolonged campaign on his own behalf was abetted by many historians and innumerable Cubs fans, but who was not elected until a year after his death late in 2010.

Other notables in this category include Bill Veeck and Leo Durocher, both denied the satisfaction of enjoying their own induction. Sometimes the self-promotional campaigns pay off, as with Enos Slaughter and Earl Averill. When the “Earl of Snohomish” was elected in 1975 at age 72, he revealed that he had left instructions in his will for his descendants to shun the Hall of Fame if the Hall tried to honor him too late.

The saddest case of a player denied election during his lifetime was Ernie Lombardi, who was elected in 1986, nine years after his death. Yes, it was a sadder case than Santo, who remained a popular broadcaster enjoying plenty of adulation while alive. I knew Lombardi’s was an extreme case of the fickleness of the Veterans Committee, but I didn’t know there was a bona fide, dastardly villain in the story until doing the research for this article.

The cronyism of Frankie Frisch and Bill Terry has often been cited for the election of Giants and Cardinals teammates with dubious credentials, but nowhere have I seen such a case of one vindictive Veterans Committee member cruelly blocking the election of a qualified player.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 10, 2014. Last Updated: April 10, 2014.