Edson: Why Lou Whitaker Belongs In The Hall of Fame
A couple weeks from now – on Dec. 8 – we’ll find out who the Modern Era Hall of Fame Committee elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
To be truthful, this committee was appointed several years ago to correct some oversights that were made in the voting process.
Unlike Harold Baines – who was elected last year – there are some strong candidates this year. But in my mind and in the mind of many baseball fans, Detroit’s Lou Whitaker should make it into the Hall this year.
Why? To start with, he was simply overlooked in his first and only year of eligibility. So he fell off the Hall of Fame ballot.
Now he is considered one of the favorites to make it because of baseball’s Advanced Metrics. There is a statistic called Wins Above Replacement (WAR) that says Whitaker is the top candidate of this year’s eligible players.
But even without these metrics, Whitaker should have gone in last year with teammate Alan Trammell.
Consider this: At the time he retired in 1995, Whitaker was one of only three second baseman in Major League history to post more than 1,000 runs scored, 1,000 RBI, 2,000 hits and 200 home runs. The other two were Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby.
In addition, he was the 1978 Rookie of the Year, won three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers and was a five-time All-Star.
Two teammates and his manager from that 1984 World Series champion are already in the Hall. That includes Trammell, Jack Morris and Sparky Anderson.
I can still remembering covering Opening Day in 1978 at old Tiger Stadium when Whitaker and Trammell made their debuts.
It was a balmy day in Detroit on April 7. The temperature was 67 degrees and the place was jammed with 52,000 fans. They weren’t there to see Whitaker and Trammell. They were there for Opening Day and to watch the comeback start of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, who had been injured the year before.
Everything went perfectly for the Tigers that day. Fidrych tossed a complete game 5-hitter and Detroit beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-2. Whitaker and Trammell – fittingly – had the same stat line: 1-for 3 with a run scored.
That seemed appropriate because they set a Major League record by going on to play the Keystone Combination together for 19 years.
In a couple of weeks, it would be great to finally call them the same thing – Hall of Famers.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.