I mentioned in my Veterans Committee piece that seeing who all gets a ballot in the sixteen-person vote could give us a little extra insight into who might stand a chance at picking up the twelve votes to make it in. After all, since the committee meets to discuss the process in person, having a big advocate or two on your case can make a difference. It’s even probably what helped Harold Baines get elected last year.
I was planning on doing a big breakdown of this originally, and the news came out today (I saw it first from Jay Jaffe). But looking it over…I don’t really know if there’s a full article, just a few bullet points. There’s certainly nothing as interesting as Baines’s longtime manager and team owner both voting, that’s for sure.
(In case something happens to that tweet, the sixteen people in question are: players George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith, and Robin Yount; executives Sandy Alderson, Dave Dombrowski, David Glass, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin, and Terry Ryan; and writers/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt, Jack O’Connell, and Tracy Ringolsby).
My gut instinct was that Ted Simmons would benefit the most. There are a lot of Cardinal ties on that list, between Smith, Jocketty, and Eckersley. But in fact, none of them played with him; the longest co-tenure he had was actually with Yount, from 1981 to 1985. He probably knows Smith, Jocketty, and Melvin from his time doing the occasional front office/instructor-type job post-playing days, and maybe George Brett heard a little more about him playing across the state (Glass’s tenure as Royals owner began after Simmons retired, though), but that’s it.
That’s probably better than nothing, but it’s also a far cry from Tony La Russa and Jerry Reinsdorf being voters last year. Also, Simmons was already likely to make it this year anyway, seeing as he only missed last time by one vote, so there was only so much more a moderately-favorable voting block could do here.
If you’re looking for something more under-the-radar, maybe Dwight Evans will face some good luck. Eckersley was his teammate on the Red Sox from 1978 to 1984, and both still have some involvement with the team (Eck with the broadcast team, Evans as a part-time front office consultant). Doug Melvin was also a part of the Orioles front office that brought him in for one final, mediocre season in 1991, which doesn’t seem like it’ll be the thing that will sway voters. Maybe Eckersley will be enough to sway others, though.
Outside of that, it looks like the only other connections I can find are beat writers; Bill Center would have covered Garvey in San Diego, and JackO’Connell would have gotten the tail-end of Mattingly’s career in the ‘90s as a Yankee’s writer (although he was working with the Mets in the ‘80s, so not too far away). I guess those aren’t nothing, but the Eck-Evans connection seems a little stronger to me, personally.
My only other stray thought is that this would have been a good group for Larry Walker to face: Dave Dombrowski was the Expos GM when he debuted, Tracy Ringolsby has covered the Rockies for decades, and Jocketty brought Walker to St. Louis for the 2004 and 2005 playoff runs. But Walker still has one more chance before needing the Veterans Committee, and it probably won’t be this favorable should he actually go up for induction.