Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame
By Zev Chafets
A Baseball Book Review
Cooperstown Confidential is a critical expose’ of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The book was mentioned recently in sportswriter Kirk Bohls’ column in the Austin American-Statesman. The main thrust of the book is to highlight the hypocrisy and politics surrounding the Hall of Fame selection process. A lot of the book examines the “character clause”, otherwise known as Rule 5 of the BBWAA Rules for Election, which states “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played”.
The author’s premise seems to be that the Baseball Hall of Fame has, at best, only selectively enforced the “character clause”, admitting gamblers, racists, adulterers and the like. He feels that the Hall now faces a huge dilemma, and potential irrelevance, if it begins to selectively enforce the “character clause” for those eligible players coming out of the steroids era. The book also looks at the selection of minorities, as well as the politics of election of others that may be out of favor with the baseball establishment.
Where the author did primary research or covered new (to me, at least) ground, such as his interview with Marvin Miller and the resignation of former Hall of Fame president Dale Petrosky, the book was at its best. Other areas of the book, regarding integration of blacks and Latinos and their consideration for the Hall, are old news. The “conclusions” about steroids, and their effect on the performance and health of baseball players, are controversial. The book advocates expanding Hall of Fame voting to new constituencies, including SABR members!
The book was an easy read, and for the most part an entertaining one.
Here are the key statistics:
Book: Cooperstown Confidential, Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Author: Zev Chafets
Author Credentials: He is the author of eleven books, a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, a former columnist for the New York Daily News, and the founding managing editor of Jerusalem Report.
Published: 2009, Bloomsbury, ISBN 1-59691-545-5
Length: 237 pages
Price: Retail list – $25.00; Online: from $15.00 + ship.