6. "Wild Bill" Dahlen: Turn of the century shortstop and creative, brainy player who was one of John McGraw's all-time favorites. His numbers are significantly better than HOF shortstops Tinker, Marranville, Wallace, Jackson, and Bancroft. But a Chicago sportswriter etched a poem featuring Joe Tinker so he's in while Wild Bill is not, and that's wrong.
5. Tony Oliva: He was the Bobby Orr of baseball. As great as he was it was but a slice of what might have been. With two good knees, Tony could have been (like T. Williams before him) the greatest pure hitter of his generation. Nonetheless, he finished with 1,971 hits, and a .304 average in 12 seasons while reasonably healthy in only five of them. Obviously those who do the voting must not have seen him play. There's no better explanation.
4. George Van Haltren: Starring in the 1890s, George had 2,532 hits, 583 stolen bases and a lifetime .316 BA. These are hugely higher numbers than were logged by such fabled contemporaries as "King" Kelly -- famed for his "Slide Kelly Slide" act as a part-time vaudevillian -- and Tommy McCarthy, one of the Braves' so-called "Heavenly Twins." Both were elected to the Hall seven decades ago. Van Haltren waits still. Celebrity trumps substance, even in the Gay Nineties.
3. Tommy John: It's interesting that such legends as Dizzy Dean and Sandy Koufax were gleefully and swiftly elevated despite shortened careers sadly terminated by injury. It was entirely proper in that both had proven their unquestionable greatness in just a few seasons. And yet Tommy John whose heroic acceptance of revolutionary surgery literally changed the profession remains denied. It is so very dumb! After all, the man who accepted that historic role when it took a lot of guts to do so went on to win almost 300 baseball games.
2. Jimmy Ryan: Like Van Haltren, he's a shamelessly ignored 19th century stalwart. An early slugger out of Holy Cross College, his numbers compare favorably with such legends of baseball antiquity and Cooperstown honorees as Dan Brouthers, Joe Kelley, Hugh Duffy, Jesse Burkett, and Jim ''the Orator'' O'Rourke. Yet Ryan remains obscure. How does this happen?
1. Minnie Minoso: Never acknowledged as a true pioneer, Minnie in his role as pathfinder of black-Latins in baseball was every bit as heroic as Jackie Robinson for he had to deal with the barriers of language and culture as well as race. Almost 30 when he finally got his break he went on to excel in every aspect of the game. He was a thrilling player. Before there was a Roberto Clemente there was a Minnie Minoso. It's long past time for this to be recognized.
There are others to be noted, more arguments to be made. So we'll get back to this, down the road. Stay tuned. In the meantime you should belatedly pay tribute to Ron Santo in the certain knowledge he richly deserved it.
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