Unanimous Hall of Famers

Every time an undeniably great baseball player retires -- the latest being Mariano Rivera -- there will be a handful of people who will wonder:Is he finally the one? Will he become the first unanimous Hall of Famer? In a way, it’s a bizarre concept. How could there have never been a unanimous Hall of Famer? I don’t know a single person who does not consider Mariano Rivera a Hall of Famer. You could invent cockamamie arguments against Rivera if you want -- he wasn’t effective as a starter briefly at the start of his career, one inning closers are vastly overrated, whatever -- but that’s just like a thought exercise. Everybody willing to look at his career with even the slightest bit of objectivity thinks Mariano Rivera should get elected into the Hall of Fame. But Rivera is not the greatest player in baseball history. There have been significantly better players than Rivera who have not gotten in unanimously. By my best guess, there should have been 20 unanimous Hall of Famers already. Actually, it’s more than 20 when you consider Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner and other players before World War II, but the Hall of Fame was a different thing in their time. Well, it didn’t even exist in their time. So that’s a different thing. The Baseball Writers of America have been voting more or less the same way since 1962. And I think, since 1962, there have been 20 players who should have been voted in unanimously. This actually leaves out quite a few legendary players. They are players I personally would have voted for without hesitation, but there is a REASONABLE baseball argument against them. Take Brooks Robinson. I’m a huge Brooks Robinson fan -- he was one of my father’s two favorite players (the other being Frank Howard). I grew up wanting to be Brooks Robinson. But if someone said: “Look, he was more or less a league average hitter for all those years, his great defense doesn’t quite make him a Hall of Famer for me” -- I’d disagree but I’d respect the argument. Same goes with Ozzie Smith. Same goes with Nolan Ryan. Of course I think Ryan is a Hall of Famer. But someone could legitimately argue that because he walked almost 1,000 more batters than anyone in baseball history, he gave up a lot of runs and falls short. Disagree. But see the point. And there’s no point in rehashing Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. There are, however, 20 players who I think there is no legitimate argument against. Well, there are 19 plus 1 -- you’ll see below. I list them by the number of people who did not vote for them: * * *

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