Black History Month In Focus: These Men Should Be In The Baseball HOF

This is part of The Shadow League’s yearly Black History Month In Focus series celebrating Black excellence in sports and culture.

Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. We know this. Even before his PED controversy he was considered a Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Pirates, before he ever started “allegedly” juicing and blasting missiles into the waters of McCovey Cove, which sits past the right field wall at AT&T Park. 

This particular list encompasses the greatest African-American MLB players who have not been voted to the Hall of Fame and are not named Barry Bonds. It’s only right that a wide range of Black Knights and the accomplishments they made in the game of baseball be highlighted during Black History Month. 

Lee Smith:

All I remember about Lee Smith watching him pitch the ’80s and ’90s was that he embodied everything that a feared closer should be. He had the scowl. He had the intimidation. He was 6-foot-5, 220-pounds masterfully navigating baseballs closer motto of smoke or choke. He had the stomach to blow a game and come back the next day and strikeout the side in the ninth inning, or go multiple innings in relief. Smith had a nasty heater and he lived for getting the ball in big game situations.

1984 NLCS Gm2: Smith shuts the door in NLCS Game 2

10/3/84: Lee Smith gets the final two outs in the ninth to pick up the save in Game 2 of the 1984 NLCS Check out http://m.mlb.com/video for our full archive of videos, and subscribe on YouTube for the best, exclusive MLB content: http://youtube.com/MLB About MLB.com: Commissioner Allan H.

He set the standard for the modern day closer, finishing his career in 1997 with an MLB-record 478 saves. The record stood until 2006, when recent HOF inductees Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman took the closer role to new, specialized heights.  

Smith was a candidate for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame for 15 years, but failed to ever reach the 75% support threshold needed for election, sadly peaking at 50%. 

The seven-time All-star, four-time MLB saves leader, three-time Rolaids relief Man award-winner also boasts an impressive career ERA of just 3.03. Once Hoffman got in, it became a travesty that the great Lee Smith wouldnt be deemed Hall of Fame worthy. When I think of a closer, I think of the big, bad boy from Jamestown, Louisiana with guts of steel, a golden arm and a Jheri curl that was out of this world. 

Gary Sheffield: 

A rare power hitter, who also could also hit for average like the other studs on this list , Sheffield shook his mighty bat back and forth and blasted 509 homers in a 22-year career that spanned three decades and styles of play. He has more home runs than any African-American player of his generation with the exception of Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and the Big Hurt.

Gary Sheffield | Career Highlights

All rights go to Major League Baseball

Sheffields confrontational nature and his unfriendly discord with the media, as well as PED rumors (and a stint with the Yankees) has distorted his proper place among the greats of his era. He was a feared batsman, who despite nagging injuries throughout his career managed to reach statistical standards that should make him a Hall of Famer. I mean, youre going to tell me that Jeff Bagwell is that much better than Sheff, if at all? 

Dick Allen:

More than 40 years after the feared slugger has retired, Allen is still waiting to be inducted in Cooperstown. In an era characterized as the second dead ball era because homer production was low and pitchers were dominant on the mound, Allen batted .292, slugged .534, and had an OBP of .378 during his 15-year career.  Statistically he is a Top 20 hitter in MLB history. 

Dick Allen Belongs in the Hall of Fame

Outstanding video production by Pat Taggart. Pulls together much of the evidence that supports Dick’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame..

Swinging a Paul Bunyan style 40 oz. bat, Allen became a seven-time All-Star, won the ’64 NL Rookie of the Year Award, the ’72 American League MVP Award and was considered one of the most feared hitters of his generation. He led the American League in homers twice, ending his career with 351 blasts and 1,119 RBIs. He was a model of consistency, hitting  least 20 homers in 10 seasons, including six seasons with at least 30. 

The first decade of his career alone is Hall of Fame worthy as he was arguably the best player in the game. He was also a black third baseman which is relatively non-existent in todays pro game. 

Oddly enough, Allen is still waiting for his Cooperstown call. 

Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff:

McGriff hit 493 homers in his MLB career. Clean homers. But baseballs HOF voting committee doesnt deem the guy we called Crime Dog worthy of HOF induction. His career has been described as subtle and very good but not elite. He might end up with more homers than any PED-free player to never make Cooperstown. 

Fred McGriff || “Crime Dog” || Career Highlights

Heres A Career Highlight Video Of MLB Great Fred McGriff. I made this Video with final cut pro x this video is made for youtube, hope y’all like This!! Name: Fred McGriff Team: Braves, BlueJays, DevilRays, Padres,Cubs Postion: #27 1B Height: 6-3 HR: 493 AVG: .284 RBI: 1550 H: 2490 no music All Rights Reserved.

McGriff was just never a transcending personality. He was tall and his bat was thundering, but few folks refer to the word great and Fred McGriff in the same sentence.  

Some say McGriff was overshadowed by the prolific stars of his era. 

1995 ALDS Gm1: Ken Griffey Jr. blasts two home runs

10/3/95: In his Postseason debut, Mariners centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. blasts two home runs Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: About MLB.com: Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations into an independent technology company.

He finished with the same number of dingers as Lou Gehrig, but the soft-spoken slugger broke in with Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds and other larger-than-life stars of the late ’80s and ’90s who soaked up all of the media ink and left few accolades or national commercial spots for a guy who played for mediocre franchises in Toronto and San Diego at the beginning of his career, before joining Atlanta and contributing to a World Series team. 

He did have a nickname though and you have to earn those in baseball. They mean something. 

There arent too many power hitting brothers who play first base and smack bombs. Ryan Howard was the last one I can remember, but Fred McGriff was thorough like Chuck Scarborough before Howard and he hit .284 for his career which started in 1986 and ended in 2004. McGriff continued Eddie Murrays lofty standard at that position for African-Americans.  

Putting McGriff in is certainly not lowering the standards of the Hall of Fame. 

Dave Parker:

David Parker is nicknamed “The Cobra.” Parker was a feared slugger who was a magnificent outfielder and could also hit for average. Big Dave was the 1978 National League MVP and a two-time batting champion. His dynamic skill set was not ignored as Parker broke financial ground for MLB players by becoming the first professional athlete to earn an average of one million dollars per year, having signed a 5-year, $5 million contract in January 1979. 

Parker’s career achievements are lethal. However, a drug problem eroded his skills and contributed to injuries and bad knees that hindered his production and reputation. Still, Parker managed to pump out 2,712 hits, 339 home runs, 1,493 runs batted in and a lifetime batting average of .290. Parker has had both of his knees replaced and in 2013, he confirmed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

NL@AL: Parker throws out Downing at the plate

7/17/79: Dave Parker throws out Brian Downing at the plate with some help from Gary Carter Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations into an independent technology company.

Parker was undoubtedly one of the most talented and potentially-dominant players to ever grace a diamond. His contributions to the game and impact in a lineup is not appreciated fully to this day. 

These guys may not get that BBWAA love, but TSL gives them much props during Black History month and every day a brother feels inspired to excel on the diamond. 


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