Edson: Sweet Lou Deserved Better From HOF Committee

Most Detroit Tigers fans I know were ready to celebrate on Sunday night.

“Finally,” they said, “something we can cheer about when it comes to the Tigers.”

They were thinking – as was most of baseball – that Lou Whitaker would join teammates Alan Trammell, Jack Morris and manager Sparky Anderson as members of the World Champion 1984 team in Cooperstown this summer.

But Whitaker wasn’t elected. From the 16-team Modern Baseball Era Committee for players who were active during the 1970-1987 playing period, Whitaker couldn’t get the minimum 12 votes to get into the Hall of Fame.

The sad part about the rejection is that Whitaker had the numbers – especially when compared to other second basemen already in the Hall – to be one of the players who was admitted on Sunday night.

I don’t have a problem with the two people they put in – longtime players union representative Marvin Miller and Southfield native Ted Simmons – but Whitaker clearly deserved better.

Miller should have been inducted years ago, but owners played a big part in keeping him out. It came down to politics and the owners never forgave Miller for all that he did for the players in terms of free agency, money from licensing fees and pensions.

The great Red Smith once called Marvin Miller “one of the three most important people in baseball history, along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.”

Ted Simmons grew up in Southfield and played much of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was an eight-time All-Star and a career .285 hitter, with 248 home runs and almost 1,400 RBI. Those are big numbers for a catcher.

I not only expected Whitaker to get in on Sunday, I also thought the long-deserving Dale Murphy would join him. Murphy was not only a two-time National League MVP, but was known for his model behavior on and off the field.

So why didn’t Whitaker get in? I still think it ties back to his shy personality. He was never engaging with the media, his teammates or his opponents.

You would think his impressive numbers would have carried the day. But now we know the truth. Even though those numbers are Hall of Fame worthy, Whitaker came up short.

“Sweet Lou” deserved so much better than this sour news from the Hall of Fame.

Besides, it’s not as if we have much to look forward to next summer anyway.

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.

Categories: Baseball