Octogenarian Writer Leaves Rickey Henderson Off HOF Ballot; Hilarity EnsuesS

Rickey Henderson is a lock to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but will he be the first-ever unanimous selection? Sadly, no ... thanks to this man!

Meet Corky Simpson, former sportswriter for the Tucson Citizen, 1988 Sportswriter of the Year and lover of Matlock reruns. He's also a voting member of the BBWAA, who each year participates in that Dance of the Fates that is Baseball Hall of Fame Voting. You thought the BCS system was farcical? Take a look at this mess.

Mr. Simpson did not vote for Rickey Henderson this year. Nope. Just not good enough, sir. Maybe next time.

Otter and the boys filing out of the Faber hearing room muttering "Bullshit!" immediately comes to mind. Each year a group of BBWAA resistance fighters — Joe Posnanski at Sports Illustrated calls them self-appointed "guardians of the gate" — take it upon themselves to make sure that no player is voted into the Hall unanimously. Why? Who knows? It's just one of those things that exclusive clubs do, like paddling pledges in their underwear.

And this year will be no different, as Henderson — probably one of the surest locks in HOF history — will be denied unanimous entry. We know this because Simpson is among those who have published their ballots early, and Henderson isn't on there.

Oh, Matt Williams is there. But not the all-time stolen base leader, who is considered the greatest leadoff man of all time.

I asked around with a few baseball writers who are Hall of Fame voters, and here's what one — who wants to remain anonymous — had to say:

"The rules for voting for the Hall of Fame are simple, but there are some voters who seem to add a twist to their criteria. I can't speak for why a voter would leave an obvious first-timer selection off his or her ballot. I would hope that voter wouldn't do this just to get attention. Some people weigh character heavily in deciding not to vote for a bonafide Hall of Fame player.

"I recall one voter who said he cast a vote for Willie McGee because he was a great guy. That's true, but that reasoning disturbed me almost as much as those who left the likes of Mays, Aaron and Seaver off their ballots."

Here's a sampling of the list of players who should have been unanimous choices, and how many votes they missed by:

• Cal Ripken, 8 (537 of 545). That whole consecutive games playing streak thing? Overrated.

• Hank Aaron, 9 (406 of 415). There's still some question about those absentee ballots from Minnesota.

• Babe Ruth, 11 (215 of 226). All 11 also thought Hitler was no particular threat.

• Ted Williams, 20 (282 of 302). Sorry Teddy Ballgame, not quite good enough.

• Willie Mays, 23 (409 of 432). Curiously, all 23 did vote for Art Shamsky.

Time to end this farce, OK? How do you look at a Hall of Fame ballot and not vote for Willie Mays? If you're doing that, your so-called career needs a laugh track. Of course, dementia could be an issue: Simpson is retired, and writes a weekly column for the Green Valley News and Sun, which serves a retirement community in Arizona. Their lead photo on the front page today is a kid with a chicken on his head (this is true).

You're pandering to your readership, Corky; I always knew that poultry had a thing against Rickey.

Oh Rickey, You're So Fine [SI.com]
Corky Simpson: The Writer Who Didn't Vote For Rickey Henderson [Home Run Derby]
Rickey Overcomes Rare Ailment To Make Hall History [Bugs & Cranks]