Evansville Native Don Mattingly on The Ballot for Possible Baseball Hall of Fame Induction
Is this the year Evansville's own, "Donnie Baseball," makes it to Cooperstown, home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame?
Don Mattingly Named on Contemporary Baseball Era Committee Hall of Fame Ballot
On Monday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum revealed the eight players named to the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee's ballot for induction into the Hall, and once again, the Evansville native's name was on the list. I say, "once again" because this isn't his first shot at being inducted. Far from it actually. Mattingly has been nominated for the honor 17 times prior to this one. The first 15 happened every year from 2001 until 2015 when he was on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot which is the primary way most players are voted in. The other two happened in 2017 and 2020 when he was included on the Modern Era Baseball ballot now known as the Contemporary Baseball Era for some reason. I'm guessing someone in the marketing department thought it sounded more sophisticated, or some such thing.
The Contemporary Baseball Era ballot comes around every three years and is for players whose contributions to the game took place between 1980 and now who are no longer eligible for inclusion on the Baseball Writers' ballot. The other seven players on the ballot this time around are Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmero, and Curt Schilling.
Will the 18th Time be the Charm for Mattingly?
During his playing days with the New York Yankees, the only team he played for, Mattingly was not only beloved by the fan in New York, who are notoriously not easy to win over, but he was also arguably one of the best players in the entire game. As Paul Casella with MLB.com noted in a 2019 article laying out reasons for and against his inclusion the last time he was nominated, from 1984 until 1989, Mattingly "averaged 27 homers and 114 RBIs," while averaging a .327 batting average, a .372 on-base percentage, and a .530 slugging percentage. The last of which "led all qualified hitters' over the course of those six seasons. Additionally, Casella noted Don is one of only 11 players in the history of the league who has won nine Gold Glove awards, eight of which are in the Hall, and was voted MVP of the American League in 1985.
With all that said, he does have a couple of strikes (pun totally intended) against his induction. The first is that he never won a World Series title in his entire 14-year career and his teams only made it to postseason play once, his final season in 1995 where they lost to the Seattle Mariners in the American League Division Series. Of course, that's not entirely his fault, it is a team sport. It's not like he was the only one playing, but championships do tend to carry a good amount of weight with Hall of Fame voters, regardless of sport.
The other knock against him is that his offensive stats took a dip over the last four to five seasons of his career after he was diagnosed with a disc issue in his back.
According to the Hall of Fame website, Don and the other seven players on the Contemporary Baseball Era ballot will be reviewed and voted upon on Sunday, December 4th. Any of them who receives 75% of the votes from the 16-member committee will be part of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2023, meaning Don needs 12 of the members to feel strong enough to vote him in.
Mattingly Charities Find-A-Way Event
In the meantime, Don is back home in Evansville after he and the Miami Marlins mutually agreed to part ways at the conclusion of the team's season a few weeks ago. He is currently focusing his attention on his namesake charity's upcoming Find-A-Way event featuring country stars Mitchell Tenpenny, Ryan Hurd, and Jeffery Steele at the Victory Theater on Thursday, December 1st. Tickets for the show are available now at the Ford Center box office and Ticketmaster with proceeds being used by Mattingly Charities to continue providing grants for youth-based projects and programs in the Evansville area.
[Sources: MLB / National Baseball Hall of Fame & Musuem]