Or: Old Man Yells at Old Man About Other Old Men.
Back in December, former Phillie Dick Allen missed making the baseball Hall of Fame by one vote on the Golden Era Ballot. The 16-man committee that voted on the ballot included Allen’s former Phillies teammate Jim Bunning, and Bunning was not happy about it. Stan Hochman described Bunning’s sentiment:
“‘I felt useless,’ Bunning seethed the other day, his voice crackling with anger. ‘It was the most disappointing 3 days I’ve ever spent in my life!'”
And he didn’t stop there. A furious Bunning told Hochman that the whole thing is a flawed system. Hochman asked: Pat Gillick was there to vote too, shouldn’t that have helped Allen? “I’m not sure Pat thought of himself as a Phillies guy,” Bunning told Hochman*, as he clanked loudly on his typewriter. “He just sat there, saying nothing.” But his gripe is not with Gillick … mostly, it’s with the baseball writers in the room. And it’s not that Bunning doesn’t think the writers voted correctly, he doesn’t think they should be in the room at all. And yeah, he’s mad about that too:
“I don’t think writers should be voting on Golden Era players. Let it be their peers, guys already in the Hall of Fame. And I intend to tell that to the Hall of Fame people. And I’m going to tell them they ought to narrow the list, cut it back from 10 names … To me, it was a wasted weekend. We were there to pick someone for the Hall of Fame. We didn’t accomplish anything. OK, maybe Allen and Oliva will be at the top of the list in 3 years when they come up again. But who will be on the committee of voters? What will the rules be? Things have to change!”
Maybe things should change. Any time a committee is tasked with deciding who should make the hall of fame from a list of a bunch of people, and then they decide that no one makes the hall of fame, that committee probably failed. But one thing is for sure, Jim Bunning is so goddamn mad, and he’s ready to call Pat Gillick out on it.
*I’d be surprised if “Bunning told Hochman” didn’t appear exactly as written in many wire stories from the ’60s.