Why the Hockey Hall of Fame should replicate its baseball counterpart
To make the hall of fame in any given sport, an athlete needs to have a greatness and elite talent not many others have. In many cases, the hall of fame has abandoned the vision of the very best, and has become the hall of the very good.
This is evident with the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF). Since 1959, the HHOF has inducted new members every year, including some controversial figures like Eric Lindros in 2016 and Paul Kariya in 2017. While both were fantastic hockey players throughout their respective careers, some argue they didn’t produce Hall-of-Fame-worthy numbers. Granted, both were plagued by many injuries. Despite their setbacks, Lindros and Kariya are two of the few forwards, not known for their defensive play, who did not reach 1,000 points in their careers.
In contrast, the National Baseball Hall of Fame (BBHOF) has been much more selective when inducting players. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America submits their votes every year, and a player is only inducted if he receives 75 per cent of votes. Since the first class of members in 1936, which included Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, the BBHOF has generally been reserved for the best. Cooperstown, New York, the home of the Hall of Fame, has over 300 inductees added throughout its nearly 83 year existence, and as the game has changed, so have the standards for induction.
Granted, the BBHOF has been mired in controversy surrounding the absence of several noticed stars of the game, like all-time home run leader Barry Bonds, as well as Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens for their alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. This proves the BBHOF will typically only induct players who’ve truly earned their spots as legends. With the most recent class featuring Harold Baines and Lee Smith, the standards remain the same.
The HHOF usually has a class of two to five NHL players each year, with the 2018 class featuring Willie O’Ree, Martin Brodeur, and Martin St-Louis. The BBHOF has had year-long stretches when no members have been inducted, specifically because there have been no worthy players up for induction.
The 2019 BBHOF class has several worthy members up for induction, such as all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, and the late former Blue Jay and two time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. The BBHOF must maintain its standards, and the HHOF would be wise to alter their standards of admission. The hall of fame in any sport is reserved for the best of the best, and it must be kept that way.