Earlier today I posted about Sammy Sosa’s first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. While his history and accomplishments with the Cubs certainly bring attention to him, both good and bad, Sosa is not the only former Cub that appeared on the 2013 ballot.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, the list of eligible players that spent some time on the North Side include Todd Walker (first time), Rondell White (first time), Kenny Lofton (first time), Rafael Palmeiro (third time), and Fred McGriff (fourth time). Lofton’s short time as a Cub was a memorable one, as he was part of the 2003 NLCS team. McGriff had a 30 HR, 100 RBI season as a Cub in 2002. But overall, none of these players would figure to be cast in bronze with a Cubs hat if elected.
The remaining name that does stand out is Lee Smith. The big reliever came up with the Cubs in 1980 and handled the closers role from 1982 to 1987, collecting 179 saves during that span. On the 1983 NL East Division champ squad Smith tallied 33 saves with a 3.65 ERA and 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings. It would not be a stretch to say that Smith laid the foundation for a successful career during his time on the North Side.
Unfortunately for Cubs fans hoping to see another bust in Cooperstown with a Cubs hat on, Smith also went on to have solid years at a few other Major League stops in his career. Those stops included the Red Sox, Orioles, and Angels. But arguably his best year came with the division rival Cardinals. In 1991 Smith led the league in saves with 47 while posting a 2.34 ERA and 8.3 strikeouts per nine. Those numbers were good enough to earn an All Star Game roster spot and come in second in the Cy Young Award voting. As a result, Smith could just as easily go into the Hall with a St Louis cap on.
But for Smith, it is first things first, and that is getting the call to Cooperstown. Thankfully for the closer, Bruce Sutter’s induction will help pave the way for Smith and other closers. Old number 46 for the Cubs also broke the 50% vote benchmark last year. Players on the ballot that have reached that mark have typically been successful in getting the eventual invite to immorality. With Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell the only leading vote getters ahead of him, January 9th, 2013 is definitely a date Smith will set aside to sit at home and wait by the phone.