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High and Tight: Our Rock & Roll Baseball Experts Make Hall of Fame Picks

Alice Cooper, George Thorogood, Tom Morello and other rocker fanatics sound off on our national pastime

July 20, 2012 2:03 PM ET
ron santo
Ron Santo
Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images

This weekend in Cooperstown, NY, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil the plaques of its two latest inductees, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin and Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo.

Santo's induction, at least for Cubs fans, is a cause for both celebration and bittersweet reflection, if not expletive-filled muttering. Because while this year's Hall of Fame induction weekend press release refers to Larkin and Santo as "two of the most dominant players of any era," the Baseball Writers' Association of America – aka Cooperstown's primary gatekeepers – never thought highly enough of Santo's playing career to vote for him in sufficient numbers during his 15-year window of Hall of Fame eligibility; nor, for that matter, did the Hall of Fame's various Veterans Committees, who repeatedly bypassed Santo during the last decade of his life, despite the entreaties of everyone from baseball historians to the Illinois House of Representatives to Santo himself.

It wasn't until this past December that a new "Golden Era" Veterans Committee – whose 16 members included Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson, and Santo's former teammate Billy Williams – finally elected Santo to the Hall. Unfortunately, Santo didn't live to enjoy the well-deserved honor, having passed away in December 2010 due to complications from cancer and diabetes.

Santo's convoluted path to Cooperstown offers just the latest cause to question the validity of the Hall of Fame's election process. BBWAA members have too often used their ballots to flex personal or political grudges, or grandstand about "character issues" – like in 2007, when two writers proudly announced that they were submitting blank ballots in protest of the "Steroids Era." And the Hall of Famers on the Veterans Committees have too often seemed just plain unwilling to let anyone else into their elite club.

In a recent column for the website Instream Sports, former major leaguer John D'Acquisto, who pitched for six different MLB teams from 1973 to 1982, suggests that all former players should be the ones voting in the annual HoF elections, not the BBWAA; even if the players are not Hall of Famers themselves, he argues, they have a better idea of what constitutes a true Hall of Famer than baseball writers do. "It would be far less political if the players would vote [instead of sportswriters]," D'Acquisto tells Rolling Stone, adding that "Ron Santo would have been a shoe-in."

While D'Acquisto's one player/one vote idea is certainly an intriguing one, it's doubtful that it (or any other voting system) would ever entirely settle the question of who should be enshrined in Cooperstown, an argument which will surely continue to rage in chat rooms and barrooms alike until the end of time. And since our esteemed panel of rock & roll seamheads no doubt have some strong opinions of their own on the topic, we asked them to name one player who should be in the Hall of Fame that isn't, and to tell us why.

Name: Alice Cooper
Position: Vocals

Easy: Pete Rose. I have never understood to this day why Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose was probably the best baseball player of his era. And yet he's not in the Hall of Fame because he bet on his own team. If he was betting AGAINST his team, I could see a foul... But he was betting ON his team, and that showed confidence in his team. He was not fixing the games. Pete Rose is not in the Baseball Of Fame because of his personal life. Now, I'm a huge fan of Ty Cobb because he was a Detroit Tiger and he was arguably the best hitter of all time... But in his personal life he was a first class bastard. And yet he is in the Hall of Fame because of what he did on the field, not off the field. Pete Rose got the rawest deal of anyone. And he's the most deserving to be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion.

Name: Joe Pernice
Band: Pernice Brothers
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

I'm a homer, for sure. That said, Dwight Evans belongs in the Hall. Go Google his stats, and put them in the context of the era he played in. He belongs in the Hall.

Name: Steve Earle
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

Thurman Fucking Munson. No doubt he would have made it had he lived — and besides, batting average isn't everything. Munson was the heart and soul of the New York Yankees and the first captain since Lou Gehrig, fer-fuck's-sake! C,mon!

Name: Tom Morello
Band: The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club, Rage Against the Machine
Position:
Guitar, Vocals

A great crime was committed by the baseball Hall of Fame when they refused to induct Cub great Ron Santo until after his death. He was one of the all-time great third basemen, and a player whose heart of gold was as special as his bat and glove and signature heel-clicking kicks. Ron should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago, and those who failed to put him in earlier should be ashamed of themselves. The fact that he's in now is great, and sure is appreciated by Cubs fans and his family, but we still hold a grudge.

Name: Pete Yorn
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Pete Rose's stats should put him in the Hall. 4,256 hits — that's around 1000 more hits the Derek Jeter. Think about that... I'm not sure what the gambling has to with what he accomplished playing baseball.

Name: Joshua Epstein
Band:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Position:
Vocals, Keyboards

Ever since I was a kid, all any Detroit adult old enough to remember
the 1984 Tigers would always say "Alan Trammell". Every year it's a
topic of conversation on Detroit sports talk radio, and after being
indoctrinated by these Trammellites, I'd have to say I agree. His
numbers are impressive and consistent, and he was a winner most of
all. Winning should count, right?

Name: Ben Gibbard
Band: Death Cab for Cutie
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

Call me out for bias if you must, but Edgar Martinez belongs in the Hall of Fame. I think it's a real shame that he will most likely never get the votes required based predominantly on his lack of position. If we are going to allow one type of specialty player in to the Hall (relief pitchers), we must afford the same consideration to players who spent the majority of their careers at DH.

Name: Handsome Dick Manitoba
Band:
Manitoba
Position:
Vocals

Now that Ron Santo, the Amazing Cub God, has finally gotten into the Hall of Fame, I've got three: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Felipe Alou — the greatest hitter and pitcher (of modern times), and a guy with a great 50-year career as a player and manager.

Name: Scott McCaughey
Band:
The Baseball Project, the Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows
Position:
Guitar, Vocals

Mario Mendoza. He had a line named after him, for gosh sake.

Name: Ken Casey
Band:
Dropkick Murphys
Position:
Bass guitar, Vocals

Luis Tiant belongs, with a 229-172 career record, and four 20-win seasons.

Name: Steve Wynn
Band:
The Baseball Project
Position:
Vocals, Guitar

Oh, man. There are so many. In fact, you could also ask about players who are in the HoF who shouldn't be there, but we can save that for another time. I'll skip the scandal-tainted names like Pete Rose and Joe Jackson (both of whom I think should be there) and I'll go with Jack Morris, a pitcher who, despite a higher than average HoF-qualifying ERA, completely dominated his time in the game and won three World Series rings with three different teams, including that awe-inspiring performance for the Twins in Game 7 back in 1991. Oh, and my wife's dad regularly has breakfast in the same diner as Morris back in Minnesota, so it would give him the excuse to go up and offer his congratulations.

Name: Vinnie Paul
Band:
Hellyeah, Pantera
Position:
Drums

I'm gonna say Ron Washington, the manager of the Texas Rangers, after he wins the World Series a few times. I think Texas has a distinct disadvantage to our pitchers because of the summer heat wearing them down. The manager has to really work his bullpen, and Ron's done that with great effectiveness straight through to two consecutive World Series appearances — and headed to number three this year! Go Ron and Go Rangers!

Name: Scott Ian
Band:
Anthrax
Position:
Guitar

Pete Rose. 4,256, that's why.

Name: George Thorogood
Band: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Position: Vocals, Guitar

Lee Smith — check his stats!

Dan Epstein's book, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s, is now available in paperback.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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