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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