By Jason Iannone
When a Hall of Fame inducts somebody, usually they get that induction right. Champions, points leaders, innovators in their field — rarely does a schlub somehow sneak into their sport’s respective Hall.
Far more questionable is when a Hall snubs somebody that it absolutely should not. They have the stats, they have the titles, they have the accolades — yet something stupid keeps them on the outside. It’s time to change that, because we said so.
5. Basketball: Chris Webber
Webber retired in 2008, so he didn’t become eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame until just last year. And yet, while he should have made it in on the first ballot, he did not. In fact, the nominees for the Class of 2014 did not even include him.
Despite being a ten-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year, appearing in a Conference Final, having his number retired by the Sacramento Kings and, most importantly, being named the 1991 McDonald’s All-American MVP, Webber has thus far been snubbed for the Hall. And from everything we can tell, this has nothing to do with being ring-less, and everything to do with his implication in the Ed Martin University of Michigan case, in which he confessed to accepting payments from Martin as far back as the 8th grade. As a result, just about everything Webber did in college never happened, as far as record books are concerned.
Apparently, a compromised amateur career means your pro career deserves to be ignored, which is just plain ridiculous. Webber deserves a bust just as much as the next guy, regardless of whether or not he (wink-wink) played in college.
4. Football: Jerome Bettis
If Dan Marino can make it to the Football Hall of Fame with zero rings, Jerome Bettis should absolutely get in with one. And even better, he won that one ring in the final game of his career, meaning he went out on top, much like Rocky Marciano.
Bettis is the 5th all-time leading rusher in NFL history, and made the Pro Bowl six times. While actually playing in the Pro Bowl is the most useless thing you can do this side of eating a butter sandwich, the honor of being recognized as one of the best that year cannot be taken lightly.
Bettis has no scandals (not that it should matter), his numbers are extraordinary, and his coach even took to calling him “The Closer” because he was a master at closing games. Last we checked, that’s a fairly important ability, since blowing a game in the final 10 minutes is all too common an occurrence. Put Bettis in.
3. Hockey: Don Cherry
Hockey doesn’t have too many snubs in its Hall, but Cherry is one of them. On the surface, he seems like he shouldn’t touch the Hall, since he only played one game at a major league level, spending the rest of his 20+ year career bouncing around the minor leagues.
However, Halls of Fame aren’t reserved simply for players. Coaches, announcers, and contributors to the sport’s evolution also get in, and that is where Cherry shines. For starters, he was a great coach for the Boston Bruins, making it to two Stanley Cup Finals and only missing a third because he dum-dummed and put too many men on the ice at the end of the game. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, even Hall of Famers.
Outside of that, he might be the #1 Canadian hockey commentator of all-time. His flamboyance and outspokenness has made him a broadcasting standout, and his Coaches Corner segments on Hockey Night in Canada have generated high ratings since its inception in the early 1980’s. He also hosts several other hockey-related shows, all of which are extremely popular. He is, without question, the Voice of Canadian Hockey, and there’s no reason that voice shouldn’t be honored as such.
2. NASCAR: Joe Weatherly
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is fairly new, having only been established in 2010. So there are quite a few names that haven’t made it in yet. Perhaps the most egregious omission is Joe Weatherly, a man who might have become one of the winningest drivers in history, had his life not been sadly cut short due to a car crash in 1964.
He was already well on his way, scoring 25 wins over 230 races. The man was winning over 10% of his races, which is phenomenal enough on its own. Richard Petty won only 6% of his races, for comparison’s sake. But he wasn’t sink-or-swim, as he placed in the top ten 153 times, good for 66% of his races.
He was goofy, a bit of a clown, and a semi-professional partier, but he never did anything wrong. In addition, his death inspired NASCAR to install safety nets in every car to ensure that no driver falls outside during a crash, as Weatherly did when his head struck a wall and snapped his neck, killing him on impact. So not only did he have insane numbers, his death undoubtedly saved countless lives. Sounds Hall-worthy to us.
1. Baseball: Pete Rose
First off: we’re not stupid. We know why Pete Rose is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. We’re aware of his ban for gambling on his own team, and how nobody with the power to lift it seems terribly interested in doing so.
What we are saying is: get over it, and let him in. Pete Rose isn’t just some mid-level guy who made an All-Star game or two in his career. He’s the all-time hit leader in baseball history. He’s won three World Series, made 17 All-Star Games, and won Rookie of the Year, two Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and a ton more. Plus, in 1999, fans selected him to the Major League baseball All-Century Team, proving that we could actually give less than zero craps if he gambled or not (which he did, but that’s still beside the point.)
Character and scandal are not a reason to exclude from the Hall. If they were, Ty Cobb and OJ Simpson would be retroactively removed from their respective Halls. The fact that they’re not is proof that a Hall of Fame career hangs on your accomplishments, and little else. And Pete Rose, snaky as he may be, has every accomplishment a Hall of Famer should ever need.
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