The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Keith Hernandez Should Not Be Considered a Met Only

It is all Mark Tomasik’s fault. “@retrosimba” tweeted the following this morning.

“Happy 81st birthday today to Bill White, 5-time all-star, 7-time Gold Glove winner who hit .303, 21 HRs, 102 RBI for 1964 champion Cardinals”

I replied, noting that White is one of the contenders for the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame berth given to a “Veteran Era” player this season. The key criteria is having retired at least 40 years ago.

That led to another poster asking for the names of those considered by the “Red Ribbon” committee in our recent, secret ballot.

After I replied with the link to the details, that individual stated that in his opinion, Joe Torre’s 1971 season is overlooked by many. (Torre is back on the fan ballot for “Modern Era” players, those who retired within the last 40 years.)

My response back was that Keith Hernandez’ 1979 campaign, also an MVP year, was even better – 7.6 bWAR to Torre’s 5.9. After all, relative comparisons are what voters eventually have to do. (Note: At The Cardinal Nation, we voted Hernandez’ the 26th-greatest Cardinal of all time, just ahead of Torre at 28.)

The reality is that both first basemen ranked in the bottom third of the 2014 fan vote for “Modern Era” players and they will likely again finish out of the running in 2015.

I mentioned my disappointment as I have encountered many who insist that Hernandez is a New York Met only. As a result, they discard Hernandez’ accomplishments with St. Louis out of hand. I believe that is unfair.

One individual with such a view replied back on Twitter. To support his opinion, this person said that “Time of service. Perception, Association” are the relevant factors as to why he considers Hernandez as only a Met (as well as why he believes that Torre is just a Brave).

The tweeter was apparently not interested in the facts that Hernandez was more productive as a player with the Cardinals compared to the Mets, and was also with St. Louis longer. So much for time of service as well as results.

I feel the “perception and association” points are matters of opinion by definition. My guess is this responder is old enough to have watched Hernandez with the 1980s Mets on television’s superstation WOR, but did not suffer through the dark 1970s with Hernandez and the Cardinals.

This person then tried to offer up Randy Johnson’s decision to place an Arizona logo on his Cooperstown cap despite having played with Seattle longer as an example of “perception” being the reason for a comparable decision.

He ignored my response that Johnson won four (of his five) Cy Young Awards and only World Series with Arizona. The reality of that overriding success clearly trumps whatever “perception” he believes is there. (For the record, Hernandez’ only MVP was earned as a Cardinal and he was a member of one World Series champion team at both stops.)

Further, and more importantly, it is an apples and oranges comparison. Johnson’s decisions were binary. Logo or no logo? If a logo, which of the two?

A team Hall of Fame decision is very different. To be on the Cardinals ballot, which Hernandez is, one had to have been a member of the team for a minimum of three years. Hernandez actually put in 10, just ahead of his seven more seasons with the Mets.

There is absolutely no reason Hernandez has to labeled as being associated with just one team or the other. It is not an “either/or” matter like Johnson’s Cooperstown cap logo decision.

Hernandez had significant accomplishments in both places, St. Louis and New York. In fact, the Mets, who had their Hall of Fame act together long before the Cardinals, have already voted Hernandez in. He was inducted into the Mets Hall in 1997.

If Hernandez also makes the Cardinals Hall one day, it would not bother me at all knowing he earned that honor with two different teams. And it should not be an issue for you, either.

The aforementioned Johnson is already a member of the Mariners Hall of Fame. Though the Diamondbacks apparently do not yet have a team Hall, he will be the first member of that franchise to have an Arizona logo on his cap on his Cooperstown plaque. I think it is great that both teams can celebrate the Big Unit’s career.

Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan’s number has been retired by three different teams, the Angels, Astros and Rangers. If all three of those clubs had a team Hall of Fame, Ryan would be a lock. After all, retired number status is considered a higher honor than a team Hall of Fame. Ryan’s widespread recognition does not cheapen or diminish his accomplishments with any of those individual clubs. His many successes stand on their own.

My primary point is that a player who excelled with multiple teams should not be discriminated against in voting for a particular team Hall of Fame. Look at his accomplishments with the club in question and make an informed decision, giving all candidates a fair hearing.

This isn’t just a Hernandez concern, who I personally feel is not among the top two or three candidates this season. Others on the Cardinals “Modern Era” fan ballot also spent significant portions of their playing careers with other clubs – Torre, Ted Simmons, Mark McGwire, Edgar Renteria and Steve Carlton being among the most notable.

Before the fan voting actually begins in March, I will be back with more information on each of the candidates.

In the interim, all I ask is that you keep an open mind about all eight.

Follow me on Twitter.

Follow me

Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
Follow me

2 Responses to “Keith Hernandez Should Not Be Considered a Met Only”

  1. blingboy says:

    My very earliest baseball memories include White in the Cards lineup. My dad had given me a little transistor radio with an ear bud that I could hide under my pillow and listen to the games without mom knowing. I found out later she did know. She never said anything to me or dad about it. Mom’s a gamer. Right now she is in the hospital with a broken hip, surgery tomorrow. Uneasy about it.

    Hernandez broke in when I was in high school and practically living at Busch. I used to be there early to watch warm ups, BP etc. and he used to sit in the dug out puffing on a cigarette. Funny now. He was a left coast guy who i think was sort of an uneasy fit in St. Louis in the 70s. With the ‘older generation’ I mean, but he was better than most anybody else we had at the time so that helped. NY was probably more his style. He is as much a Cardinal as anybody to me.

  2. Bw52 says:

    I used to listen on my radio in the 60`s mostly after dark when reception was much better.Stan`s last couple of years and White,Javier,Boyer,Gibby and Curt Simmons.I remember 64 World Series a couple of teachers let us watch some of the games after schoolwork was done.That was pretty cool for 1964.Baseball was still King back then.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.