Anyone who’s known me knows that I’m unabashedly a sports fanatic. Those people know that my first love is professional baseball. This afternoon, I saw Dawn Mitchell’s interview of Erin and Dan Murphy:

They’re neighbors of Twins great Tony Oliva. They started “the Official Tony Oliva Fan Group”, which they say “was started in 2011 by a group of 12 fans in a suburban kitchen.” Their “mission is to get Minnesota Twins Legend Tony Oliva inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.” It’s great to see them putting this campaign together. It’s a disgrace that Tony Oliva isn’t enshrined in Cooperstown already.

Tony Oliva is one of a handful of dominant players I’ve had the privilege of watching in person. The best way I know how to illustrate Tony’s dominance is to explain that Rod Carew thought of him as his hitting instructor. While they were teammates. Rod Carew won the AL batting title 8 times. His best season was 1977, when he was the AL MVP. He won it by hitting .388, the highest batting average at the time since Ted Williams hit .388 in 1957.

What other player or coach could Rod Carew turn to that knew more about hitting than he did? That’s right. The only other player with that type of credibility was Tony Oliva.

Let’s take it a step further. In 1964, Tony became the first rookie to lead the league in hitting. That year, Tony finished with a .323 batting average. In 672 at-bats, Tony struck out just 68 times or once every 2 1/2 games. If you’re thinking that’s decent for a slap hitter, you’re right. That’s pretty good for a slap hitter. Tony Oliva wasn’t a slap hitter, though. That year, Tony finished with 43 doubles, 9 triples, 32 home runs, 374 total bases and a .557 slugging percentage.

That’s what a dominant hitter does. Tony Oliva fits that description perfectly. After his playing career, he worked with another Twins outfielder that turned into a great hitter. His name was Kirby Puckett. Kirby started as a slap hitter. He didn’t hit his first home run until his second season. After Tony suggested Kirby start lifting his front leg, Kirby started hitting home runs while hitting for a high average.

When good hitters hit a hot streak, their batting average for 5 games might shoot up to .450 or so. When Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett or Joe Mauer got locked in, their batting average for a series looks like the batting champion’s batting average in a slow pitch softball league. We’re talking about these gentlemen going 15-for-17 in a 4-game series or 11-for-12 in a 3-game series.

It’s time for the baseball gods to smile on Tony O. If Cooperstown doesn’t have room for a 3-time batting champion who played in 8 All Star games while winning a Gold Glove for defensive excellence, then Cooperstown’s reputation deserves to take a hit.

Add in the fact that Tony’s been one of baseball’s best ambassadors for the last 30+ years and that he’s worked with Twins hitters since the 1970s. Those credentials deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown, NY.

That’s where you come in:

The Hall of Fame announced on October 30th that Tony Oliva and 9 others (Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills) will be considered for election into the Hall of Fame. The Veterans Committee is considering the Golden Era (1947-1972) players and will be judging them based on their Record, Ability, Integrity, Character, Sportsmanship and Contribution to the team.

The 16 Voters are: Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Pat Gillick, Ferguson Jenkins, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith and Don Sutton; baseball executives Jim Frey, David Glass, Roland Hemond and Bob Watson; and veteran media members Steve Hirdt, Dick Kaegel, Phil Pepe and Tracy Ringolsby. The vote will take place on Monday December 8th 2014 in San Diego CA at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

The best way to influence the voters is by writing them a letter. Click HERE to find out more information!

Please consider sending a letter or postcard to the Hall of Fame telling them why Tony Oliva should be inducted into the Hall of Fame!

Let’s get Tony into the Hall of Fame. He’s earned it and then some. While we’re at it, let’s get Jim Kaat in, too.

4 Responses to “”

  • Donna Kay Fladager says:

    So fun to hear your story about Tony O. Tony has been my hero since I was a little girl. My daughter and I have both only worn #6. We met Tony years ago at a Twins game. Actually I met him and then we remained friends for years. He was so good to all kids and he got to know both my children Todd and Paula. We would go to games in Seattle and other cities and take Tony to see different sites. I coached little league fastpitch softball when my daughter was little and he offered to come be the speaker for our opening day in Missoula Montana. He would have been so much better than whoever we ended up with. Tony has always given so much to his fans. My kids and I have loved him and appreciated all the memorabillia and friendship he has given us over the years. He is the best. My daughter, who is now 35, and I were at a Twins series last year and were sorry we had not made arrangements to see Tony. Next time we are there we plan to get in touch with him.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Donna, Thanks for that story. Everyone I’ve talked to about Tony O says the same thing: that he’s a great baseball ambassador. Some even mention that he’s a great ballplayer. I’m kidding there. Everyone that knows Tony knows that he’s a great player. What’s amazing is that his fans talk more about Tony, the great man than they talk about Tony, the great outfielder or Tony, the great hitter.

    I hope that you & your daughter visit to find out how to send letters to the voting committee. If enough fans like you & your daughter do this, we’ll get Tony into the Hall of Fame this year. That’s long past time.

  • Donna Kay Fladager says:

    We both got post cards and sent those. I will ask her to send a letter too.

  • Dan Murphy says:

    Thanks everyone for your support of Tony O !!

    Days are drawing short and all mailings should be done by Thanksgiving! The more letters the more better! Make sure you write VOTETONYO on the front and back of your letter so that everyone at a glance at the pile know what you are thinking!

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