Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hall of Fame Spotlight - Hoyt Wilhelm

Plaque photo borrowed from www.baseballhall.org

Hoyt Wilhelm (b. 1922 - d. 2002) was one of the first great relief pitchers. He played in the majors from 1952 to 1972 for the Giants, Cardinals, Indians, Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Braves, Cubs and Dodgers. I have been working on a spreadsheet of Hall of Famers lately and what I liked the most about Wilhelm was that he was born in Huntersville, NC. I lived in Huntersville myself from 2001 to 2003 before we bought our house in Cornelius (which is where Wilhelm went to high school). We sold our house in Cornelius in December of 2009. Anyway, Wilhelm was considered a great knuckleball pitcher, which is why he was able to pitch as long as he did. He made his final appearance in the majors just 16 days prior to his 50th birthday. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985 on his 8th ballot with 83.8% of the vote. He retired after 21 seasons with a record of 143-122, 1,610 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.52.

What makes him a Hall of Famer?
  • Led the league in ERA in 1952 (2.43) and 1959 (2.19)
  • His 2.52 ERA ranks 45th all-time
  • Recognized as the first pitcher to save 200 games
  • First pitcher to appear in 1,000 games
  • His 651 games finished ranks 10th all-time
  • His 1,050 games pitched ranks 5th all-time
  • Threw a no hitter against the soon-to-be World Champion Yankees in 1958
  • All Star in 1953, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1970
Should he be a Hall of Famer?
  • Never won a MVP or Cy Young award
  • Played until he was 49; 16 days prior to turning 50
  • A major influence on how the relief pitcher is used today
  • Appeared on 8 Hall of Fame ballots (elected on 8th ballot) averaging 59% of the vote
The Verdict?
Being a player who sets the tone for how other players in your position are used definitely puts one in the running for the Hall. Wilhelm's numbers may not stack up with the greatest pitchers of all time, but I believe he definitely should be in. YES Hoyt Wilhelm is a Hall of Famer.

On average, a Hoyt Wilhelm autographed baseball can be had for $70.60 or a signed card can be found for around $39.99.
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