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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Reggie Jackson: Hall of Fame has let in too many undeserving members

Reggie Jackson was always known as one of the more outspoken baseball players during his career, and little has changed since he retired. “Mr. October” was the self-proclaimed “straw that stirs the drink,” and he’s still unafraid to speak the truth.

In an excellent interview for Sports Illustrated’s “Where Are They Now?” edition, Jackson opens up on many topics. Some of his strongest thoughts are about the Baseball Hall of Fame, which he thinks has become too lenient with its standards for admitting members.

“I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer,” Jackson told Phil Taylor. “I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.” What about Bert Blyleven? “No. No, no, no, no,” Jackson says. “Blyleven wasn’t even the dominant pitcher of his era — it was Jack Morris.”

He also is unhappy about what took place during the Steroid Era of baseball and says no Hall of Famers will attend if a known user is let in to Cooperstown. He’s not the only Hall of Famer who has said that.

Jackson says he plans to bring up the subject of undeserving members at the next members-only meeting in Cooperstown, and it doesn’t faze him that some of the people he believes are undeserving will be in the room.

Of all the players he mentioned, only Kirby Puckett was voted into the Hall of Fame quickly after playing his last game (Puckett’s career was cut short because he had a loss of vision). Others like Blyleven and Rice were notorious for being borderline candidates who were turned down for several years before finally being admitted.

There are many people in the baseball community who probably agree with Jackson’s opinion about Hall of Fame membership, but there are few who would be so outspoken about it. It’s that type of boldness that made him so calm in the face of pressure, and that attitude helped him become one of the best postseason hitters in history.



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