Five of the 10 names on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Golden Era ballot played for the White Sox, including two — Minnie Minoso and Billy Pierce — who starred together during the 1950s, a golden era of sorts in club history. Election to the Hall on Monday requires being named on 75 percent of the ballots by the 16-member Golden Era Committee.
Do the Sox stand a chance?
Minoso, a seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove outfielder who played 17 seasons with the Sox, Indians, Cardinals and Senators is not only a sentimental favorite — they call him ”Mr. White Sox” — but a worthy candidate as well. Crunching his numbers from 1951 until 1962, Minoso had the seventh-highest WAR among position players, trailing Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks.
What’s more, the “Cuban Comet” was the first black White Sox, and he blazed a trail for Latin American players in the big leagues starting in the 1950s. Minoso drove in 100 runs four times for the Sox and hit .300 or better six times.
Minoso, 89, played for the Sox from 1951-57, ’60-61, ’64, and briefly as a player-coach in ’76 and ’80. He got nine of the 12 votes needed when the Golden Era Committee, which replaced the former Veterans Committee elect candidates not eligible by the Baseball Writers Association of America, first met in 2011. The committee meets and votes every three years.
Pierce, arguably the best left-hander in the history of the Sox franchise and perhaps the best pitcher of the 1950s who is not in the Hall of Fame, is on the Golden Era ballot for the first time. He posted a 211-169 record with a 3.27 ERA in 18 seasons, 13 with the Sox. He was a seven-time All-Star who pitched 193 complete games (leading the AL in three straight seasons) and put up back-to-back 20-win seasons in 1956-57. Pierce led the AL with a 1.97 ERA in 1955 and in strikeouts with 186 in 1953. By Hall standards, his career was very good but perhaps a slim cut below what it will take to get in.
Dick Allen, who played nine of his 15 seasons with the Phillies and two and half with the Sox, is arguably — by performance standards — the most deserving of any eligible player who wore a Sox uniform. The slugging first baseman played 15 seasons from 1963-77 for five teams, none bigger than 1972 when he won AL Most Valuable Player award after keeping the red-pinstriped Sox in contention in the AL West for most of the season by hitting .308 with 37 HR and 113 RBI. The last Sox to lead the AL in homers with 32 in 1974, Allen from 1964 to ’74 led all of baseball in offensive war (Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski and Joe Morgan ranked two through five behind him) and finished his career with 351 home runs, 1,119 RBI and a .292 career average. He was NL Rookie of the Year in 1964 and a seven-time All-Star.
*Ken Boyer played 15 seasons as a third baseman with the Cardinals, Mets, Sox and Dodgers, earning seven All-Star Game selections and winning the 1964 NL Most Valuable Player Award en route to leading the Cardinals to a World Series championship. He didn’t do much in a Sox uniform on the back end of his career, playing in 67 games in 1967 and ’68.
*Jim Kaat pitched 25 seasons with the Senators, Twins, Sox, Phillies, Yankees and Cardinals, winning 283 games over four decades. A three-time All-Star who helped the Cardinals win the 1982 World Series, Kaat came to the Sox during the 1973 season and his two full seasons with the Sox were good ones: He went 21-13 with a 2.92 ERA over 42 starts and 277 1/3 innings in 1974, and 20-14 with a 3.11 ERA over 303 2/3 innings in 1975. Kaat won 16 Gold Glove Awards, including each of the seasons he pitched for the Sox.
Also on the Golden Era Committee ballot: Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Tony Oliva, Luis Tiant, Maury Wills.
The 16 voters on the Golden Era Committee who will make the call: Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith, Don Sutton; executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond, Bob Watson; and media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby.