HALL OF NAME

As long as we’re talking about voting, please allow me to vent here.

The Potomac Nationals Hall of Fame has just announced its latest inductee, thanks to a month-long online vote by the FANS … and it’s … drumroll please … Magglio Ordonez.

Yes, the Magglio Ordonez who hit a robust .238 for the club back in 1995 is the latest in a list of proud members of the PNHoF, which also includes such former Prince William/Potomac/Alexandria luminaries as Barry Bonds (71 games there in 1985), Bobby Bonilla (hit .256 there in 1983), Jorge Posada (.259 there in 1993) and who could forget Prince William/Potomac superstar legend Albert Pujols who played 21 games there in 2000 …

21 games, people! That doesn’t qualify you for a team’s Hall of Fame. It barely qualifies you for the team’s Cup of Coffee.

The other members of the PNHoF are pitcher Andy Pettitte, outfielder Bernie Williams and team owner Art Silber. With the exception of Silber, the criteria is pretty obvious. Find the biggest names to ever don the uniform, no matter for how brief a time, and call them Hall of Famers.

I know it’s a “fan vote” online but I’d love to know how many of the fans voting went to games back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and even saw the other guys play (among them J.T. Snow, Brad Ausmus and Alan Mills).

I understand that obviously one wants to promote the big names to show the kind of talent that passed through on their way up. But true longtime fans of the teams should also appreciate the tiny handful of truly impact players who may not have achieved the same lasting fame once they made it to the Majors, but left the biggest impression when they were there.

So maybe I’m being overly snitty here but having been the Prince William Cannons beat writer from 1989-1991 (with a few weeks early in 1992 before I moved on to USA Today/Baseball Weekly), I have a few HUGE issues with this whole concept.

Frankly, I think that any Prince William/Potomac/Alexandria/Whatever Hall of Fame that does not include either pitcher Alan Mills or third baseman Hensley Meulens is bogus.

In the history of the franchise, the club has won exactly one Carolina League championship (and in an eight-team league that’s not a very good percentage). This title came in 1989, my first year as the team’s beat writer, and I can tell you without hesitation that were it not for Alan Mills, who joined the team as its closer in the second half, the Potomac Nationals would be heading into the playoffs this weekend looking for its first-ever championship.

When I moved down to Virginia from New York City to take the job, it was already two years after Meulens had hit .300 with 28 homers, 103 RBIs and 14 steals for the Prince William club. I can say without reservation that aside from killer numbers, “Bam Bam” was also the most popular player in club history, to the point of having a night in his honor when they raffled off the beat-up Matador he tooled around town in. He still stays in touch with friends he made among the devoted fanbase more than 20 years ago.

No Prince William Hall of Fame will ever be complete until Meulens and Mills are enshrined in it. I’ll even let them keep those Bonds and Pujols guys in there. What the hell. I’m feeling generous.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Well, anything promoting Hensley Meulens is good enough for me.

Seriously, though, I agree with you 100%. I don’t think it serves the minor league team much to mention how much it’s been a slave to their major league teams that drafted well. It reflects 0 on the team-player-community interrelation that makes minor league baseball so wonderful. My favorite memories of several years of Reading baseball weren’t the stars, but the players who took time out for kids like me or who had something distinctive about them when they were there. Yeah, I remember the amazing players who came up through the system, but there’s a Phillies Hall of Fame (Phame?) for them already.

I’d much rather honor the memories of players who may or may not have been honored at the major league level but who meant something to the minor league team and its fans. You honor more people that way and you reflect the team’s successes more accurately.

Then again, considering the first seven years of my following minor league baseball were informed almost solely by your writing, maybe this isn’t a surprise that I agree with you. 🙂

Love your work as always,
Brandon Isleib, The Hardball Times

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