Minoso, Hodges, O'Neil among 6 new inductees to Baseball Hall of Fame
Cooperstown has opened its doors to six new members in the Baseball Hall of Fame's Era Committee elections.
Former star players Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, and Tony Oliva were elected to the Hall of Fame off of the Golden Days ballot, which covers the 1950-69 era. The Early Baseball ballot (prior to 1950) elected Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler and beloved former Negro League player, major-league coach, and baseball ambassador Buck O'Neil.
The six new Hall of Famers will be officially inducted on July 24 as part of the class of 2022. Of the six inductees, only Kaat and Oliva are still living.
Each 16-member committee voted on ballots comprised of 10 players, managers, umpires, and/or executives from their respective eras. Nominees required at least 75% of the vote to be inducted.
Minoso received 14 of 16 votes on the Golden Days ballot, while Hodges, Kaat, and Oliva each earned 12. Dick Allen missed induction by one vote.
O'Neil's 13 votes led the way on the Early Baseball ballot, which featured seven Negro League stars and three early AL and NL players.
Hodges was a star first baseman for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting 370 home runs and winning three Gold Gloves while helping the franchise to seven pennants and two World Series championships. He then became a beloved manager, famously guiding the New York Mets to their miraculous 1969 World Series title.
Until Sunday, Hodges - who died suddenly while managing the Mets in 1972 - was the only player outside the Hall who received at least 60% of the vote on the writers' ballot. His widow, Joan, is still alive and received the call from the Hall.
"I'm thrilled for my mother," Hodges' son, Gil, said. "She's 95 now, and the next vote would not have been for five years. I'm glad she can enjoy this day and she's part of it."
Kaat was a durable left-hander who won 283 games over his 25 big-league seasons, primarily with the Minnesota Twins. His 16 Gold Gloves are the second-most all-time at any position, trailing only fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
Minoso was a Chicago White Sox icon and a trailblazer for Latino players. In a career that included three Negro League seasons, he racked up 2,110 big-league hits and led his league in steals and triples three times each. "The Cuban Comet" extended his career by starring in the Mexican League after leaving the majors, then briefly suited up for the White Sox in 1976 at age 50 and again as a 54-year-old in 1980.
Oliva won three batting titles - including two in his first two seasons - and was a five-time hits leader over 15 years with the Twins, where he was also a longtime teammate of Kaat. The native of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, becomes the first expansion-era player (since 1961) to be elected to the Hall of Fame with fewer than 2,000 career hits.
Fowler, who grew up in Cooperstown, is a Black baseball pioneer and the earliest known Black professional player. Skilled at almost every position, he played for both integrated and Black teams in the U.S. and Canada during the 19th century before forming the Page Fence Giants, a team that helped lay the groundwork for what became the Negro Leagues.
O'Neil, a beloved baseball ambassador, had an eight-decade career in baseball that started as both a first baseman and manager for the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs. He then spent many years as a scout for both the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals and was the first Black coach in AL and NL history with the Cubs in 1962.