I’ve been reading Zev Chafets’ book Cooperstown Confidential and just happened across a bit on Steve Garvey which talks about him being named as a future Hall ofFamer in a 1986 poll of major league managers in The Sporting News. As a SABR member, I have access to full archives for The Sporting News free of charge so I decided to take a look at the full poll.
These kinds of polls or predictions generally interest me. I enjoyed reading Bill James’ forecasts for 25 years of inductions in The Politics of Glory, and I made my own predictions here last year. I think it’s interesting to see how many of these pan out.
Here’s what the poll, printed May 26, 1986, looked like:
“Which players in your league– if they retired tomorrow– have already done enough to merit selection to the Hall of Fame?”
- Players listed who are now enshrined (16): Reggie Jackson, Phil Niekro, Tom Seaver, George Brett, Don Sutton, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, Robin Yount, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Gary Carter, Tony Perez
- Players listed who aren’t enshrined (4): Ron Guidry, Pete Rose, Steve Garvey, Dale Murphy
“Which players in your league have a chance to make the Hall of Fame if they continue to play at the level they are currently demonstrating?”
- Players listed who are now enshrined (4): Cal Ripken, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Ryne Sandberg
- Players listed who aren’t enshrined (6): Harold Baines, Kent Hrbek, Fernando Valenzuela, Willie McGee, Mike Marshall, Tim Raines
“Which players in your league with four years experience or less have demonstrated the potential to someday qualify for the Hall of Fame?”
- Players listed who are now enshrined (1): Tony Gwynn
- Players listed who aren’t enshrined (9): Don Mattingly, Tony Fernandez, Bret Saberhagen, Jose Canseco, George Bell, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Vince Coleman, Orel Hershiser
Don’t be surprised if some of the players here, particularly from the first group, arefuture Veterans Committee selections. The committee, after all, is comprised largely of the baseball establishment. I doubt their thinking on Hall of Fame worthiness has changed that much since 1986.