Four of the 10 people being considered for enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame via the HOF’s Today’s Game Era ballot are former Midwest League players, and one of them also managed in the MWL.
The Today’s Game Era (TGA) is one of four Eras Committees that provide an avenue for HOF consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons. The TGA ballot will be voted upon by a 16-member committee on December 9 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots (12) will earn election to the Hall of Fame.
The candidates are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner. Baines, Belle, Carter, Clark, Hershiser and Smith are being considered for their contributions as players. Johnson, Manuel and Piniella are included for their contributions as managers, and Steinbrenner for his work as owner of the New York Yankees.
Baines, Belle, Hershiser and Manuel are former MWL players. Manuel also managed in the MWL.
Baines was a rare No. 1 overall draft pick who began his playing career in the Midwest League. He batted .261 with 18 extra-base hits and 29 RBI in 69 games with the 1977 Appleton Foxes, who were a Chicago White Sox affiliate.
Belle briefly played for the 1988 Waterloo Indians, batting .250 (7-for-28) with one homer, one double and two RBI in nine games.
Hershiser pitched for the 1979 Clinton Dodgers, going 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA, 33 strikeouts, 17 walks, two saves and one complete game in 43 innings (15 games/four starts).
Manuel was an outfielder and a manager for the Wisconsin Rapids Twins, in 1967 and 1983, respectively. He batted .313 with 15 homers, 29 doubles and 70 RBI in 111 games for ’67 squad. That was almost good enough to win the MWL triple crown, as he finished first in batting average, second in home runs, and tied for first in RBI. The ’67 team went to the MWL Championship Series, which they lost to the Appleton Foxes. As a manager, Manuel led the ’83 team to a 71-67 record, which was pretty good considering the team started 9-27!