Among the seeming less endless variety of discussions about the Baseball Hall of Fame is a group of folks who like to emphasize the word “Fame.” You can’t just be good, or even great, in their view. You also have to be famous. A player can be wonderful, these folks claim, but if they were unheralded during their careers why give them baseball’s highest honor? That should be reserved for the memorable players, the famous ones.
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".