Trick Question: How many baseball writers are in the Hall of Fame?
Last week, Hal McCoy’s new book became available. Because I’m known to read baseball books and write about them, I actually got my copy more than a month ago. And as I mentioned here and especially here, I really enjoyed the book. If I were a Reds fan, it would be essential. No question.
There is one thing … well, I want to be sensitive about this, but it’s also important to me, as a member of McCoy’s profession. Here’s how Chapter 26 opens:
The best thing surrounding my induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, on July 27, 2003, was that my father was there. My sister, Beverly, told everybody I was being indicted, but I really was inducted.Article continues below ...
With all due respect to McCoy, a highly respected reporter and (it turns out) a pretty entertaining writer, he really was not inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Look, I get it. It’s just easier to say it that way. McCoy’s friends and employers and family are all going to say he’s in the Hall of Fame, and it would be at least tiresome and perhaps rude if he ran around correcting everyone all the time.
But one of the CENTRAL TENETS of our profession is accuracy, and it’s just wildly inaccurate for a Spink Award winner to describe himself as a Hall of Famer, or to say he’s in the non-existent "writer’s wing" of the Hall of Fame. And I really don’t mean to pick on McCoy, because he’s far from the only one who does this.
The Hall of Fame itself is highly specific about this. I’ve got the Hall’s official magazine sitting right here, and the cover features Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, and Randy Johnson. Inside, there are articles on each of the four, under the heading, "Class of 2015."
Then come two more articles, about Spink Award winner Tom Gage and Frick Award winner Dick Enberg, both under the heading, "Award Winner." The Hall of Fame is always very careful to refer to the award winners as award winners or honorees rather than members of the Hall.
Look, we all want to be famous, and acknowledged for our work. Someday one of my friends will probably win one of these awards, Dave Cameron or Len Kasper or Grant Brisbee or Jon Sciambi or Ken Rosenthal or whomever. Who knows? When that happens, maybe I’ll cave.
But at least until then, I will advocate accuracy in journalism. Just as I wish my colleagues would.
Postscript: Sorry to hear the news about 2008 Spink Award winner Nick Peters, who passed away Monday. This post was published some hours before I knew Peters had died, and was of course in no way related.