Today, the results of the 2012 Hall of Fame election will be announced in New York. There are two key members of the Detroit Tigers 1984 World Series championship club on the ballot, but it’s unlikely that either will earn induction.
As a result, the ’84 World Champion club will remain one of the few in baseball history without at least one Hall of Fame player on their roster. Manager Sparky Anderson was elected, but none of the many standouts on that club have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
Given the exclusivity of baseball’s hallowed Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, that may not seem too unusual, but it’s actually highly unusual. In the first 90 years since the “modern” World Series began in 1903, only three World Series championship clubs failed to have at least one future Hall of Famer on the field.
Only the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers, 1990 Cincinnati Reds, and 1984 Tigers have won a Series and not had a Hall of Fame player. Like the Tigers, the ’81 Dodgers were managed by a future Hall of Famer, Tommy LaSorda.
The 1984 Tigers are not without their strong candidates for enshrinement: starter Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell are each on the HOF ballot, with Morris gaining more support as each year passes. In 2011, Morris garnered 53.5%, a weighty total, but still more than 20% below what he needs. Trammell has inched his way to about 20% over the years. Previously, Lance Parrish, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, Darrell Evans, and even Howard Johnson spent brief stretches on the writers’ ballot. Though all were All-Stars and several of them put up excellent career stats, none are going to earn a Hall of Fame nod. Whitaker’s “one and done” appearance on the ballot was surprising to some, who saw him as Trammell’s alter ego at second base. “Sweet Lou” posted impressive numbers that only a handful of HOF second basemen surpassed, for example in hits, runs, and RBI.
The lack of a Hall of Fame player doesn’t diminish the grandeur of the ’84 team, which is considered by many historians to be one of the best single season clubs in history. The Tigers led from wire-to-wire, won 35 of their first 40, and dominated their foes in the post-season, losing just one game. If they should never get a HOF player from their ranks, they will still have the company of the ’81 Dodgers and ’90 Reds, at least for a while.
Shortstop Barry Larkin seems like a solid bet to become the lone HOFer from the 1990 Reds eventually. The ’81 Dodgers have one solid candidate, namely first baseman Steve Garvey, who seemed like a Hall of Famer for much of his career, but who for several reasons has never gotten enough votes to make a push toward induction. Reggie Smith, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, and Fernando Valenzuela were the other stars on that club, but each of them fits comfortably into the group of players not quite great enough to be Hall of Famers.
After 1993, almost every World Series winning team has at least one lock for the Hall of Fame, but they just haven’t been eligible for election yet. In fact, of the teams that won a World Series title since 1993, only the 1997 Florida Marlins seem likely to never get a Hall of Fame inductee. Moises Alou and Rob Nen are probably the two best candidates from the ’97 Fish, but neither of them is likely to earn a ticket to Cooperstown.
The other Series winners since ’93 with their HOF worthy players: 1995 Braves (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones), 1998-2000, 2009 Yankees (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano), 2001 Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson), 2002 Angels (Troy Glaus), 2003 Marlins (Pudge Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera), 2004 and 2007 Red Sox (Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon), 2005 White Sox (Frank Thomas), 2008 Phillies (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels), 2010 Giants (Tim Lincecum) and 2011 Cardinals (Albert Pujols). The 1996 Yankees already have their HOFer in Wade Boggs.
It’s a fact that if you win a World Series, at least one of your players is going to be a Hall of Famer. So far, the ’84 Tigers have been one of the very few teams that is the exception to that rule.