NatsGM Exclusive Interview with Larry Rocca, Baseball Hall of Fame Voter

Recently I was provided the opportunity to talk Hall of Fame voting with Larry Rocca, former beat writer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and New York Yankees, and columnist at The New York Star-Ledger; Larry also has the great fortune to be one of about 600 individuals who votes for the Hall of Fame each year.  After spending almost five years working as Managing Director of Baseball Operations for Chiba Lotte Marines Baseball Club in Japan (the team that Bobby Valentine managed), Larry has returned to his (and my) high school alma mater, Georgetown Preparatory School, as Director of Development and Alumni Affairs.  Since we share a common passion for baseball, I naturally try to find him at the various alumni events to talk baseball and in the past few years he and I have become friends.

Knowing how fascinating and controversial the 2013 baseball Hall of Fame ballot was, I reached out to Larry to see if he would be kind enough to share a few minutes and talk about this year’s candidates.  Here are some of the best nuggets from our conversation…

NatsGM: “Larry, thank you for sharing some time with my audience just few days after the Hall of Fame announcement… The 2013 ballot is probably the most talked about group of candidates in a generation, I am curious if you might share whom you voted for this year?”

LR:          “I voted for Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell. “

NatsGM: “Excellent to hear you voted for Alan Trammell, he’s a personal favorite of mine as well… Can you tell us why you voted for him when he has struggled in recent years to receive support amongst the BBWAA?”

LR:          “I view Alan Trammell as the one great constant for the Tigers for so many years. I fully understand the argument against his inclusion, but also think he is a victim of comparison with a generation of players who “got fat” on smaller strike zones, more hitter friendly ballparks, a livelier baseball, and, of course, steroids.

NatsGM: “I am a little intrigued by your choices of Tim Raines, a favorite of the Sabermetrics community, and Dale Murphy, perhaps seen as more of an “Old-School Baseball Guy” type… Can you enlighten us as to your feelings on why they deserve membership in Cooperstown?”

LR:          “For a significant stretch there, from 1981 to 1987, Tim Raines was the second greatest leadoff hitter of all-time. Add his longevity and contributions to championship teams later in his career, and I am convinced. As for Dale Murphy, I think no player has been victimized more by the steroids era than he has. It’s hard to prove his departure from the game was accelerated by the juicers, but there is no question that his numbers have been severely diminished by comparison. I think if you are going to discount the numbers of the steroids era, which you obviously have to do, you should also recalibrate how you look at the performance of prior generations, especially the immediately prior generation.”

NatsGM: “Obviously there is an absence on your ballot of those who played in the ‘Steroid Era’… Rather than ask about these players and their candidacy, I am curious what you think becomes of these 10-20 star players 15 years from now?”

LR:          “At least for now, I am not voting for anyone who played the bulk of his career in the “steroids era.” Nobody had more power to rid the game of PEDs than the best players, so even those who didn’t use – if there are any – are at least guilty of complicity. Integrity is part of the criteria. Those who did not move to rid the game of PEDs have to get an F for integrity.”

NatsGM: “Very Interesting… Thank you so much for joining us.  Where can we keep up with you going forward?

LR:          “I’m always happy to help a fellow Little Hoya. Until my next HOF ballot, I’ll be begging for dollars for Georgetown Prep’s financial aid coffers — which reminds me: when are you going to make your Annual Fund gift?!”

Good one Larry, check’s in the mail, I swear…

 

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6 thoughts on “NatsGM Exclusive Interview with Larry Rocca, Baseball Hall of Fame Voter”

  1. Great stuff, thanks.
    I thought he was dead on with Trammell & Raines, and insightful on Murphy.
    The only big omission was Biggio, but I’ll bet he votes for next year.

  2. Nothing personal against Mr. Rocca, but isn’t the fact that he still has a Hall of Fame vote sort of one of the big issues that people have with the voting system as it is? He hasn’t covered major league baseball in at least 5 years and likely longer (how long has he worked at Georgetown Prep?).

    And, his “logic” for not voting for players with zero PED allegations against them is laughable. Lets say, for the sake of argument, that you think that Piazza, Bagwell, Biggio and Schilling (the four players on the ballot who all have zero credible PED accusations against them) were all actually clean. You’re witholding votes on them because he thinks they were somehow complicit in the wider Steroids issues of the game? What exactly did he expect these players to do? Preach the gospel of good living to a bunch of multi-millionares?

    Is he planning on voting for Maddux and Glavine next year? What about Frank Thomas, who was the one player who volunteered to testify on PED issues. By his stated logic, is he going to withold a vote for Thomas, who may have actually been the one player in the game who was willing to name names and try to change the game?

    I’m sorry; I have zero respect for his vote or his logic as you transcribed it here. And the fact that he works at a High school now and still has a vote is ridiculous. Its like those 3 writers who now write for an online golf website who still vote.

    1. Todd,

      I respect the work you do on your site and appreciate you reading and commenting on this piece… But I think Larry’s resume of working and covering baseball deserves a bit more respect than you offer him in your comment. Very few voters will do an interview about the process and even fewer are willing to state their opinion, for this he should be commended (the process should me more transparent). For him to allow me to interview him is pretty significant for this humble website. I am sorry you did not enjoy the interview more.

      Ryan

    2. Todd, for the record: no, he apparently isn’t planning to vote for Maddux, Glavine, or Thomas, but he did vote for Hideo Nomo, so that’s something?

    1. Eric,

      This interview was one year ago… I am hoping to have another interview with him in the upcoming weeks, but he’s become a busy man.

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