This weekend, a 16-member Modern Baseball Era Committee will gather to consider nine players and one former executive for induction to Cooperstown.
Obviously, Hall of Fame election tends to mean a boost for a player’s rookie cards. As of now, all but the highest graded examples of most of the players’ cards are inexpensive.
With results due to be announced Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on MLB Network, here’s a rundown of each candidate and where they sit. Click the links to see the player’s rookie cards for sale and auction on eBay.
Best odds: Lou Whitaker
The longtime Detroit Tigers second baseman made only one Baseball Writers Association of America’ ballot for the Hall of Fame, receiving 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001, which disqualified him from future consideration. Two years ago, when Whitaker became eligible for consideration with the committee, he didn’t even make its ballot, with former teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell being enshrined (the rookie cards of all three are in the 1978 Topps set).
A lot has changed since, with Trammell using part of his induction speech in the summer of 2018 to stump for his longtime double-play partner. Momentum has seemingly built around Whitaker’s enshrinement, though it remains to be seen if the committee will fully grasp his value. Some of the strongest points in Whitaker’s favor come from his sabermetric value, such as his 42.8 Wins Above Average, seventh-best among all second basemen in baseball history.
Whitaker would appear to have the best odds of any candidate on this ballot. But it still might be close.
Next best odds: Ted Simmons
Simmons fell one vote shy of induction the last time the committee met. Members of this committee include former teammates Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount. Also on the committee is Walt Jocketty, longtime general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, where Simmons had his best years as one of the National League’s best catchers in the 1970s.
Simmons is one of the better rookie cards in the 1971 Topps set.
Why now? Marvin Miller
I’ve been tracking all known Veterans Committee and Era Committee candidates for the past several years. I have Miller, the iconic former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, having been up for consideration nine times since 2001. He’s come close a couple of times, including 2011 where he fell one vote shy.
The question to me isn’t whether Miller belongs in Cooperstown. At least to me, he absolutely does, with his work in toppling baseball’s Reserve Clause forever changing the game for the better. It’s just a question of what could spur 12 voters to support Miller now, seeing as he’s fallen short nine times before and died in 2012 at 95. A few aging executives, who saw their payrolls skyrocket thanks in no small part to Miller, might also still have axes to grind.
Munson, the former New York Yankees catcher and captain, died tragically in a plane crash in 1979 and never drew more than 15.5 percent of the vote with the writers. He hasn’t fared much better with the committees, drawing a total of 12 votes between the 2003, 2005, and 2007 elections when all living Hall of Famers and winners of the Ford C. Frick and J.G. Taylor Spink awards voted. He hadn’t made a ballot since until this year.
That said, Munson’s been the subject of a grassroots campaign among fans in recent months. While there are seemingly larger fish to fry than Munson on this ballot, this group has been particularly vocal. And while these types of campaigns can be ill-advised, they sometimes get players enshrined.
His 1970 Topps rookie card is popular now and would really soar if he were somehow elected.
Parker, meanwhile, might benefit from a sympathy vote.
Although he received less than seven votes each of the other two times he’s been considered by an era committee, in 2014 and 2018, he’s dealt with a long-term disease, Parkinson’s, which has been getting media attention. At his peak, he was also one of the best players in baseball, winning the 1978 National League Most Valuable Player Award. Don’t count him out.
Like Dave Winfield, he has a solo rookie card in the 1974 Topps set.
Incomplete: Don Mattingly
Donnie Baseball looked destined for Cooperstown as a player before injuries curtailed his career. Now, he could look to follow the path of Joe Torre and build a better case as a manager. While his win-loss record has tumbled below .500 in recent years thanks to him managing the hapless Miami Marlins, Mattingly’s not yet 60. With another decade or so of service — and at least some of it for a competent franchise — a plaque might be within reach.
His 1984 Topps, Donruss and Fleer rookie cards ruled the first half of that decade and remain popular, but generally cheap.
It’s an accomplishment for Evans (one of my favorite candidates) that he made the ballot. Like Whitaker, a lot of Evans’ case rests on sabermetrics. Unlike Whitaker, Evans doesn’t have a teammate who endorsed his candidacy from the dais in Cooperstown in recent years. I’d be stunned if he makes it. Pleasantly stunned, no doubt. But still quite surprised.
His 1973 Topps rookie card takes second billing to Mike Schmidt among the rookies in the last series.
Then there’s Murphy, another personal favorite. My sense is that Parker, Evans, and Murphy might all cancel one another out as standout outfielders of the 1970s and ‘80s whose numbers weren’t good enough for the BBWAA. I don’t see Murphy having the sympathy factor of Parker, so that relegates him here.
He’s on four player rookie cards in 1977 and ’78 with the former being the one to own.
As for John, he’d have been in Cooperstown 20 years ago with 12 more career victories. It’s slightly lame the Hall of Fame works this way — and a case can be made that John and the man who saved his elbow, Dr. Frank Jobe belong in Cooperstown as pioneers — though I don’t see John going in this time.
His rookie card is the oldest of the group, having been part of the 1964 Topps set.
Same goes for Garvey. Put him in better home hitters’ parks than Dodger Stadium and Jack Murphy Stadium over his 19-year career and I bet he’d have picked up the 20 or so hits a season that would have gotten him to 3,000 hits and an obligatory plaque long ago. Still, the Hall of Fame just doesn’t work this way and there’s seemingly nothing else at this time that would compel Garvey’s induction. If he gets in, it’d be a Harold Baines-style shocker.
His 1971 Topps rookie card is among the keys to the set, but only high grade copies require more than a small investment.