2020: The MLB Hall of Fame’s doleful year

Jul 20, 2019; Cooperstown, NY, USA; National baseball hall of fame chairman of the board Jane Forbes Clark greets Hall of Famer Phil Niekro as he arrives at the National Baseball Hall of Fame during the Parade of Legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2019; Cooperstown, NY, USA; National baseball hall of fame chairman of the board Jane Forbes Clark greets Hall of Famer Phil Niekro as he arrives at the National Baseball Hall of Fame during the Parade of Legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Joe Cronin, then American League President, with commissioner Bowie kuhn (right) in 1970.
Joe Cronin, then American League President, with commissioner Bowie kuhn (right) in 1970. /

1984 (5)

This was the second year in which five seated MLB Hall of Famers passed in the same 12-month calendar. As a group, however, the class is less distinguished than either the 1972 or 2020 groups.

The first to go was Stanley Coveleski, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1920s. The Veterans Committee had elected Coveleski in 1969 in recognition of his 215 career victories and 2.89 career ERA.

Coveleski was one of two Veterans Committee honorees that year. The other, former Yankee pitching great Waite Hoyt, died Aug. 25. Hoyt was 237-182 pitching mostly for New York, including in a starring role during the Babe Ruth years.

On Sept. 7, former American League President Joe Cronin died. Probably the greatest shortstop in the history of the Washington Senators, Cronin had been elected in 1956, his 10th year on the ballot. He was also a manager with the Senators and Boston Red Sox, where he also did a stint as general manager. Cronin’s 1933 Senators and 1946 red Sox both won pennants.

Walter Alston died Oct. 1. A player for part of one season, Alston won fame as manager of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1954 through 1976. His Dodger teams won 2,040 games along with seven pennants and the 1955, 1959, 1963, and 1965 World Series.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 13, George ‘High Pockets’ Kelly died at age 89. A long-time first baseman for the John McGraw New York Giants, Kelly batted .297, but won the sympathies of the Veterans Committee in 1973. His nickname came from his height: Kelly stood 6-4.