Nov 15, 2023Liked by Paul White

I've always thought there should be some sort of official recognition for players like Olerud, who were very good, borderline HOF or better, who *didn't* get the recognition they may have deserved. Olerud stands out to me because he was a solid hand in the field, a good bat, but mostly because of the "feel good story" of his medical condition that lead to him wearing a bump cap in the field during his career. That, plus being in a Canadian baseball market, I think works against him. Especially when you compare it to Keith Hernandez, who was one of the "characters" of the mid-80's Mets teams. Would Hernandez have the kind of intangible off-field fame that makes him a stronger candidate to some if he had played his entire career in St. Louis and was never on Seinfeld?

I think it's important to recognize players who didn't get their due during their career. Some guys have incredible careers, but because their team is trash, or they play in a bad media market, or whatever external forces prevent them from having the fame they may deserve I don't think should hinder their chances of getting into the HOF.

You make a strong case against Olerud's induction, but that case, I don't think, is made any stronger because he wasn't an overwhelmingly popular player during his day. Olerud, to me, is in that group of players with guys like Harold Baines, Don Mattingly & Dale Murphy. Guys that fans of a certain age remember as having had really good careers, and guys that we maybe even rooted for a HOF induction, but ultimately, guys that should be gatekept out because they're squarely "Hall of Really, Really, Really Good".

Expand full comment

I agree it's a tricky thing to weigh (or not) the value of a player's fame or notoriety during their career when considering them for the Hall of Fame. To me that's particularly true of Olerud, whose overall career was likely better than the three others you listed as examples. If he had coupled his actual statistics with the fame Mattingly had playing in New York, or the notoriety Murphy had playing on the Superstation every day, I think Olerud would already be in the Hall. He has a much better case than Baines, but they suffer from the same problem of having been quiet guys who played with little fanfare. If he'd had that one year that made voters give him an MVP (like Mattingly and Murphy) or had a bigger personality that made the fans or his peers vote him onto more All-Star teams, his case would be stronger. Heck, even Fred McGriff's infamous Tom Emanski instructional videos elevated him in the consciousness of voters and fans, and, silly as it sounds, I think that's partly why he's in the Hall of Fame despite the fact that it was Olerud who likely had the more valuable career.

Expand full comment