The record for the most Hall of Famers appearing in a MLB single season is 53. This happened in 1928, 1929, and 1930. However, not all of the best players were playing in Major League Baseball at the time. Many were playing in the Negro Leagues as well. In 1926 21 future Hall of Famers were active in the Negro Leagues and 52 played in MLB that year too. That’s 73 future Hall of famers playing across baseball in one year. That record will never be approached for a variety of reasons. Segregation is only one of them. Corrosive politics and a Veterans Committee led by Frankie Frisch caused the 1920s & 1930s to be the most overpopulated decades in the Hall of Fame.
The record for an integration era MLB season (1947-present) is 38. This happened in 1965, 1967-1969, 1971, 1972, and 1974. This made me wonder if 38 future Hall of Famers are playing now in 2015. The answer is almost certainly no, but here’s my attempt at finding those 38.
Keep in mind there are four types of players in every Hall of Fame. 1) The all-time greats. Players considered to be the best ever to play the game or the best ever at their position. (Ruth, Mays, Williams, Maddux, Johnson.) 2) The obvious Hall of Famers. These guys may not be the best ever but there is little doubt they belong. (Gwynn, Carew, F. Thomas, Ryan, Jenkins.) 3) Borderline guys. One can reasonably make a case for or against them. (Dawson, Wheat, Perez, Ford, Drysdale.) 4) Mistakes. Every Hall of Fame has players that fall so far short of the standards they just simply don’t belong. The Baseball Hall is no different. (McCarthy, L. Waner, Lindstrom, Marquard, Hunter) are among the dozens in this group with plaques in Cooperstown. All four types of players will eventually be represented from this generation as well.
In if they retired today: (3)
Already deserving but light on the vaunted sniff test: (3)
– Adrian Beltre (He is moving closer to the top group)
It’s complicated, man: (1)
Well on their way: (5)
These guys have faltered recently but let’s not forget how great they once were: (4)
Closer than you realize: (2)
A few more good years: (3)
Halfway there: (7)
Don’t forget about us: (3)
The youth is running wild: (7)
Let’s close this out: (2)
That’s 40! Now obviously not all of these guys will get in, but it’s a blueprint of what could be. This list doesn’t even include Alex Rodriguez, who by the numbers and numbers alone has had the best career of anyone on it.
If we backed this up to just 2012, this list would lose Correa & Fernandez but would gain Jeter, Rivera, Chipper, Thome, Rolen, Halladay, Helton, Pettitte, Andruw Jones, Berkman, Johan, and Vizquel. Those players fall into different groups but eight of them have a realistic chance. That would be a total of 46, which is kind of awesome.
The Hall of Fame is more inclusive than most people think. Several active players who do not currently pass the sniff test or measure up to historical standards will eventually get in. Someone who isn’t on anyone’s radar right now, a future late bloomer, will blossom and have a Hall of Fame caliber career. A borderline player in his mid-thirties will have a few great years late and tip him over the line. I picked one rookie to make it but it’s possible, maybe even likely, there will be a handful more.
This is road to the 40. It’s bumpy, and frankly full of potholes along they way, but eventually you get there.
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