The Hall of Fame Looms Large

After 15 years of Mathewson baseball, the commissioner's office announced today the formation of a panel of baseball experts in anticipation of the first Hall of Fame at the beginning of next season. The announcement was met with enthusiasm and some trepidation, as most fans agree that most of the best players of the last 15 years are still playing. Sports radio shows and columnists quickly lined up to voice their opinion and support for different players, and the panel is even considering expanding the list of eligible players before nomination.

At a date to be announced, all teams will be able to nominate retired players to the Hall of Fame. After the list of nominees is set, voters will then get to pick who gets enshrined in baseball's pantheon of fame. The following list of early eligibles was compiled by writers from three different cities as some who deserve consideration.

1. Mike Burrell - RF - Charlotte Wolfpack, Iowa City Bison - Burrell's .327 career AVG is 3rd amongst all HOF eligible players, and his .406 career OBP is nothing to ignore, he hit 330 career HRs, hit 2082 hits, scored 1333 runs (2nd amongst HOF eligibles), made 5 All-Star appearances, was a 3 time silver slugger RF, was a key part of one World Series victory for the Wolfpack. With 1333 runs scored (2nd amongst HOF eligibles), Burrell will always be remembered as a versatile outfielder who could get on base, clutch hit and score, but had enough power to be a game changer. Burrell had the respect of his teammates, and was credited with the Iowa City franchise's resurgence when he signed as a free agent in the latter years of his career.

Carlos Rincon - The all time career leader in stolen bases (570) also batted a career .323 average and scored over 1000 runs. He never appeared in an all Star Game or win any awards. In S8, Rincon established the single season stolen base record with 104 while only being caught 13 times. Rincon is a borderline HOF caliber player, and is not likely to get picked on his first attempt at the hall.

Kennie Perez - The native of Kodiak, Alaska will always be remembered as an All-Star CF, but he is amongst the most balanced players to ever play in this league. He starred as a CF, but graciously transitioned to be a 3B and a RF, even played SS for a stretch run at the end of S9 to help LAs Vegas make it into the playoffs. While he played at his prime for the Memphis BluesBoys, he also played for Las Vegas, Helena and Iowa City. Perez made 2 All-Star appearances, was a 3-time Silver Slugger, got 2 Gold Gloves (at different positions), and probably suffered from his biggest asset: his versatility to play multiple positions. He Leads HOF eligible players in runs scored, is 2nd in career hits (2130), hit 278 career hrs, and was a .292 carrer avg. He earned 1 World Series ring with Memphis. Perez was a leader in the club house and at the top of the lineup.

Carlos Franco - 3B - The most likely player to be inducted into the HOF, Franco was the Colorado Colorado Crush's 3B for 11 seasons. In that time, he was a 6 time All-Star, 2 time Silver Slugger 3B. 507 career HRs, 1985 career hits, .320 career AVG, .377 OBP, his career OPS (.998) ties for best amongst HOF eligible players. While critics argue that his offensive numbers were inflated by Colorado's thin air, and that 507 career HRs are not even in the top 10 in league history, nobody will argue that Franco was one of the most dangerous hitters of his playing years.

Willie Vazquez - CF/RF/2B - Norfolk, Portland - Although best remembered for a controversial contract signed in S8, Vazquez deserves respect for his accomplishments in the playing field. He was a 6 time All-Star, a 5 time silver slugger CF, a gold glove RF who hit 301 career HRs, 1095 RBIs, a .287 career AVG, and a .402 career OBP. It is unlikely that he will be picked for the Hall of Fame, but he will definitely get some consideration.

Fausto Canseco - The journeyman wore multiple jerseys in his career, but this LF was an offensive force to be reckoned regardless of where he played. He made 1 All-Star game appearance, but hit 457 career HRs, 1596 career hits, and compiled a.294 career AVG.

Mike McGlinchy - 3 Time All-Star, 1 Gold Glove, hit 419 career HRs over 9 seasons. Although popular for playing his entire career with one franchise and establishing most franchise career offensive records, he is unlikely to get enough support outside of his home team fan base to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Rick Harnisch - 3 Time All Star, 2 time Silver Slugger 3B put up similar career numbers to McGlinchy (427 career HRs, .292 career AVG, 1616 hits, .829 OPS) in 200 more games (1555), and is likely to receive equal treatment.

Billy Hermansen - All Star catcher for the Louisville Wild Turkeys for 10 seasons is the career leader in batting average amongst HOF eligible players (.338), a 2 time all-star, a silver slugger catcher, and earned one World Series ring.

Don Gonzales - All time saves leader (423 in 471 opportunities) amongst HOF eligibles is second all-time in save totals, and is one of only a handful of pitchers worthy of Hall of Fame enshrinement. Although relievers tend to get snubbed out of the Hall, there is no arguing that Gonzales was amongst the best, being a 10-time All-Star, a 4 time Fireman of the Year, and got two World Series rings (one for Memphis and one for Buffalo). Gonzales should be a unanimous decision.

11. Sam Goodwin - Sam Goodwin won 142 games, which is best amongst HOF eligible pitchers (but not even top 15 in league history). He was a 2-time Cy Young Award winner, a 4 time 20 game winner, and made 3 All-Star game appearances. A key part of the Charlotte Wolfpack's early success, Goodwin suffered from making his major league debut after 10 years of professional baseball in other circuits. He was known as a "junkball" pitcher that relied heavily on his knuckle ball while keeping batters off-balance with an arsennal of off-speed pitches. He managed a career 3.55 ERA, held batters to a career .252 OAV and had a 1.24 career WHIP. Of all the starting pitchers eligible for nomination, Goodwin is as good as it gets

12. Richard Magee - a 4-time All-Star that trails only Goodwin in Career wins (141) amongst HOF eligibles, Magee was a 4-time All star and collected two World Series rings (one with Memphis and one with Las Vegas).

13. Alexander Goldman - Goldman was the anchor of the Las Vegas pitching staff for the first 7 years of this league's history, earning a Cy Young award and making two All-Star appearances. In S4, he was a key part of the Rollers' World Series victory. Goldman was a fierce competitor and an innings-eating workhorse for 6 years, before becoming a mopup reliever in the dusk of his career. Much like Goodwin, Goldman also suffered from debuting at the start of this league as a career veteran of other leagues. In 9 seasons, Goldman posted 122-52 career record, including 10 complete games. He had a 4.05 career ERA, and won 16 or more games 5 times, including a 21-6 record in S5 and a 19-4 record in his Cy Young award winning S2. Goldman will get some Hall of Fame consideration, but is not likely to be a unanimous choice for induction.

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