As frustrating as it was for Mets fans to see Mike Piazza fail short of election to the Hall of Fame this year, perhaps it should have been expected. Plenty of great, no-brainer candidates have been forced to pay full admission if they want to see Cooperstown in their first years of candidacy thanks to the BBWAA's incredibly high standards. For roughly 100,000-plus more words on this topic than your humble Mets historian can muster, check out the BBWAA Project over at Joe Posnanski's blog, particularly the post on catchers and Piazza's chances for future induction.
Seventy five years ago, the Hall had an election pretty similar to the one in which Mike was snubbed last week. Only instead of wanting to make suspected steroid users suffer, to use Ken Burns's syntax, back in 1938 the writers failed to vote in some incredibly qualified players because of...honestly, I have no idea. To punish suspected spitballers, maybe? That'd make just as much sense as the BBWAA's current stance against players of the PED era.
Anyway, the lone inductee in 1938 was World Series hero and 373-game winner Grover Cleveland Alexander. Meanwhile, second basemen Eddie Collins and Rogers Hornsby couldn't muster support from the requisite 75% of the electorate despite being arguably the best players to ever man the respective positions at that time. While Collins was just a big miss by the BBWAA, there were extenuating circumstances with the latter. Though he'd ostensibly been retired from full-time duty since becoming manager of the St. Louis Browns in 1933, Hornsby had a habit of inserting himself into games as a pinch hitter, which probably hurt his candidacy. Then again, the five year waiting period had yet to be introduced at that point, plus Rajah hit .321/.387/.429 as a 41-year old in 1937, so it's not like he weakened his case statistically.
To (finally) bring it back to the Mets, Hornsby served as the team's third base coach during its inaugural season. Had Twitter been around in 1938, users could have taken a break from complaining about dust storms and posting photos of empty plates to invent the #TwoVote hashtag for Hornsby's future boss Casey Stengel. Though he'd later make it to Cooperstown as a manager, a mere 0.8 percent of writers felt his playing career was Hall worthy. Oddly, Stengel and #OneVote subject Aaron Sele were both league leaders in HBP one year, so plus ça change...
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
If the diatribe at the top of this post was somehow too germane to the subject of New York Mets baseball for your tastes, enjoy this Bob Beamon-long leap of logic. Today would have been inventor Thomas Watson's 159th birthday. Working as Alexander Graham Bell's lab assistant in 1876, its believed the Bostonian received the first telephone call in history when Bell rang him up and said, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you." Thanks to the pioneering work of this duo, Mets managers (at least until this year) have been able to pick up the bullpen phone and demand to see Heath Bell, Allen Watson, and many other relievers with unscientifically themed names.