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How Much for a Morgan
2002-08-26 15:46
by Mike Carminati

How Much for a Morgan Bulkeley Card?

Jim Caple has an interesting article today on the Veterans' Committee's inclusion of George W. Bush, the former owner of the Texas Rangers for 9 years, on their preliminary ballot of 60 non-players. Of those 60 only 15 go on the final ballot, so chances are against Bush. For the record the Rangers were 795-759 for a .512 winning percentage, with 2 division titles (and the division lead in '94 despite being 10 games under .500). He also helped orchestrate the building of the new stadium in Arlington. This is basically the golden age of Ranger baseball (their only other division title came in '99, the year after the Bush era). Obviously Bush is not much of a Hall of Famer.

Bush would, however, be the perfect way for the newly configured Vets' Committee to start off on the wrong foot just like every other such committee that's been set up since day one. He would also bookend nicely with the first such appointment, the man who is the most glaring example of veterans' committee blunders of all time. That man is Morgan Bulkeley, the first president of the National League in 1876. He was selected by the Committee on Baseball Veterans in 1937, that is, the second induction class. He was the owner of a long-forgotten team, the Hartford Dark Blues, from 1874-77 (i.e., in the National Association from 1874-75 and then the NL 1876-77). The team never finished any higher than third. Bulkeley, the Hall's site points out, "was elected unanimously as its first president. In the league's initial season, Bulkeley enhanced Baseball's image by reducing gambling and drinking...From 1889 to 1893, he was governor of Connecticut and then a United States senator. "

What it doesn't say is that the league presidency was set up as an honor that would be bestowed upon each owner in succession. The man who held the real power was Chicago White Stockings (now Cubs) owner William Hulbert. Hulbert was a totalitarian dictator, who ruled with an iron fist. When the teams representing the two most populous cities in the league (New York and Philadelphia) refused to complete a road trip out West, Hulbert dropped them from the league. Hulbert became league president in 1877 once he realized that the roud-robin election system was a farce. Hulbert was not enshrined at Cooperstown until 1995 though he was the man most responsible for making organized, professional baseball a successful venture. That shows you how much research went into the Vets' Committees original selections.

George Bush's plaque along with the 2003 class resting on the wall facing the 1936 and '37 classes would be the perfect statement that this new Vets' Committee could make. It wouldn't hurt if Joe Morgan could get a few old vets to vote in his buddy Dave Concepcion, too. All the while Ron Santo, Gary Carter, Dwight Evans, Bobby Grich, and dozens more-worthy players are left in the cold.

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