Who Are Baseball's Core Hall of Famers?
EN ROUTE TO ST. LOUIS — Our Brilliant Reader question today comes from Tony, who asks something fairly simple, but probably a pretty significant question for JoeBlogs: We often talk about “Core Hall of Famers” here. Well, what do we mean by that and who are the Core Hall of Famers (CHOFs)?
On Wednesday, we had an amazing and wonderful WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL event in the gorgeous Jane Pickens Theater in Newport. I was joined by my amazing friend, Alex Edelman, who was so funny and, actually, so heartwarming. Alex believes in baseball magic … or at least he did for a long time and would like to again. And so he introduced something to the events that I’m going to carry with me to St. Louis tonight (be there in person or virtually!) and for the rest of the tour: During the audience question-and-answer session, he asked each questioner to begin by, in one or two quick sentences, saying why they love baseball. It was really beautiful.
I bring this up not to sell the book (though, hey, if you haven’t bought one yet, I hope you will — Amazon has it for 10% off — but to say that I met someone yesterday who kind of gave me a great answer to this core Hall of Famer question without even trying. It was the father of Steve Iwanski, owner of Charter Books and one heck of a guy. Steve told me that he and his father play this great game. See, Dad has the world’s smallest Hall of Fame. Every time Steve would ask about a player, no matter how great, Dad would say, “No, not in my Hall of Fame,” and give a reason.
Like, Steve would say: “Sandy Koufax?”
And Dad would say: “No! Too short a career.”
Steve would say, “Mariano Rivera?”
And Dad would say: “No! He was a reliever.”
Steve would say, “Cal Ripken?”
And Dad would say: “No! Not with that batting average.”
Steve would say: “Brooks Robinson?”
And Dad would say: “No! Not a good enough hitter.”
Etc. What a fun game. I love this so much, of course — it reminds of my Willie Mays Hall of Fame — but I also think there’s something to this. There has been no perfect player, obviously. You really can knock anybody if you want. Ruth corked his bat. Mays took amphetamines. Williams couldn’t field. Griffey was done as a great at 30. And so on.
So what is a core Hall of Famer?