Last updated: January 07. 2014 5:25PM - 349 Views
Jeff Gates For The Madison Press

Jeff Gates
Jeff Gates
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This is one of the most fun…and most frustrating days of the year.

It is the day the newest members of the greatest shrine anywhere are revealed.

As a kid, I was a baseball junky. Growing up in the days of the Big Red Machine, at a very young age I knew I was watching baseball royalty.

Morgan, Perez, Rose (the biggest travesty in Baseball Hall of Fame history), and my childhood idol Johnny Bench were all stars at Riverfront Stadium and in the makeshift wiffleball stadium in my friend Mike Jaromin’s backyard.

For years I have looked forward to early January when the next immortals are named as I hearken back to the contributions of these great athlete.

I have had the pleasure of attending two induction ceremonies in Cooperstown (aka Mecca). In 1989 I witnessed Bench and Yaz get their call, and 10 years later I ventured to the town where baseball lives to see Nolan Ryan, Yount and Brett take their rightful place among the all time greats.

Each Hall of Fame voter gets 10 votes, so I would like to put my two cents in of how I would use mine. Some of these guys will probably never make the Hall, but if it were up to me, they would go in.

Greg Maddux — Simply the most dominant pitcher for two decades. In addition to 355 wins, he earned an amazing 18 Gold Glove Awards.

Frank Thomas — Known as ‘The Big Hurt,” he was one of the most imposing hitters of his era. With a .300-plus lifetime average 521 home runs, Thomas should be a slam dunk.

Tim Raines — Too often under appreciated, the Expo speedster had 800-plus stolen bases, 113 triples and 2,600 hits.

Edgar Martinez — Major League Baseball’s Designated Hitter of the Year Award is named for him. That and a .312 lifetime average earn him entrance.

Mike Mussina — Won 270 games despite facing hitters in the heyday of the American League East. Played half his career in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.

Tom Glavine — Not only had 305 wins, but earned four Silver Sluggers as the league’s top hitting pitcher.

Barry Bonds — With great reluctance do I endorse this artificially enhanced hitter. While I will never acknowledge anyone other than Aaron as the home run champ, Bonds arguably had Hall of Fame stats before he allegedly used banned substances.

Roger Clemens — See above. Hall of Fame caliber before evidence of alleged wrongdoing began.

Don Mattingly — Injuries cut short a sure-fire Hall of Fame career. Still, the guy with one of the purest swings ever batted .307 for his career and earned nine Gold Gloves.

Fred McGriff — The ‘Crime Dog’ flew under the radar for many years, quietly gathering close to 2,500 hits and 500 home runs.

The only thing predictable about the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is that it is unpredictable.

I’m sure this year will be no exception.

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