To the Editor:
This is in response to Steve Cameron’s column July 29 lambasting the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony this year, visit the museum in Cooperstown and see the Parade of Legends. It was the trip of a lifetime.
I don’t necessarily want this letter to argue the merits by which we determine who is in the Hall of Fame. My favorite player of all time — Tim “Rock” Raines — has yet to be voted in, and that bothers me. But if I am being honest, I am as partial as those writers who actually get a vote, so who am I to complain?
Actually, the term, “Hall of Fame” is too nebulous for my liking. Is it literally a physical hall exclusive to only a few? Is it merely a group of players, mana-gers, umpires and executives selected by some writers over the course of history? I don’t know that there is a clear answer.
What I do know, after visiting the Hall of Fame museum last weekend, is that those impres-sive plaques given to inductees each year are actually held in the museum. Yet that museum does not discriminate in the way Mr. Cameron bemoans in his column.
It is the same museum that prominently displays a statue of Buck O’Neil, the Kansas City Monarch great, and conspic-uously celebrates the accom-plishments of Pete Rose and Barry Bonds. It recognizes count-less other baseball players who have not been inducted into this so-called sham of a Hall of Fame.
People love to argue about who should be in or out of the Hall of Fame. That perpetual debate is part of baseball, but it’s not a shortcoming. Without it, interest in the game would have waned decades ago. Statistics can be weighed a thousand different ways. My opinion is no more or less subjective than the next person’s.
The discourse is, after all, what makes the game so grand. Mr. Cameron says the game has “bumbled along.” I disagree. I say it has a gracefully stood the test of time, enjoying the same debates that likely existed when the first class was inducted in 1936. Walking through that storied museum eliminated whatever shred of doubt I may have had in that regard.
I contend that the “Hall of Fame” is whatever you want it to be. For me, it is a special place tucked away in upstate New York where baseball fans gather throughout the year and, especially once a year, to celebrate the greatest game ever played for all of its quirks, all of its beauty, all of its controversy and all of its history. I was lucky enough to see it with my own eyes. Fortunately, there is not a single thing a panel of writers — qualified or otherwise — can do to tarnish that.