With very little news coming out from Major League Baseball, last night the “Golden Days Era” Committee announced six new baseball icons to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at the July 24, 2022, induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Former players Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, and Tony Oliva were elected by the Golden Days Era Committee, and Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were chosen by the Early Baseball Era Committee in voting that took place in Orlando, Fla.
This was the first meeting of both the Early Baseball Era and Golden Days Era Committees. The Early Baseball Era Committee considered candidates who made their contributions to baseball prior to 1950, while the Golden Days Era Committee considered candidates from 1950-69. Here is some background on the latest players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame
Hodges was an eight-time All-Star in an 18-year career as a first baseman for the Dodgers and Mets. He won three Gold Gloves and led the Dodgers to seven National League pennants and two World Series titles. Hodges’ 370 career homers were the third most by a right-handed hitter at the time of his retirement in 1963. He managed the 1969 Miracle Mets to the World Series title. Hodges passed away in 1972.
Kaat pitched 25 seasons with the Senators, Twins, White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and the Cardinals. Kaat won 283 games over four decades from 1959-83 and was a member of the 1982 World Series champion Cardinals. Kaat’s 625 career games started rank 17th all-time, and his 4,530 1/3 innings rank 25th. He is currently a broadcaster for MLB Network.
Miñoso played 17 seasons with Cleveland, the White Sox, Cardinals, and the Washington Senators. He was a nine-time AL/NL All-Star and four-time Negro Leagues All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner as an outfielder, and a prominent member of the “Go-Go” White Sox of the 1950s and 60s. The Cuban native began his professional career in the Negro Leagues and blazed a trail for Latin American players in the big leagues. In an MLB career that spanned from 1949-80, he was only the second player to appear in a game in five different decades. He passed away in 2015.
Oliva, also a native of Cuba, played 15 seasons for the Twins. He won three batting titles and led the AL in hits five times. He was an eight-time All-Star and won the 1964 AL Rookie of the Year honor. He received AL MVP votes in each year from 1964-71. Oliva had missed enshrinement via the Golden Era Committee by just one vote in 2015.
Fowler, who passed away in 1913, is often acknowledged as the first Black professional baseball player. He pitched and played second base for teams in more than a dozen leagues throughout his career. He actually spent part of his youth in Cooperstown before eventually helping form the successful Page Fence Giants barnstorming team.
O’Neil’s selection comes 15 years after he was controversially not among those who entered the Hall via the 2006 Special Committee on the Negro Leagues. O’Neil died shortly after that omission, and a life-size statue honoring him stands near the entrance to the Cooperstown museum. O’Neil played 10 seasons with the Memphis Red Sox and Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League and was named to three All-Star teams. He went on to become a scout and in 1962 became the first Black coach in the AL or NL with the Cubs. In his later years, he was a beloved ambassador for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.