Blog Entry

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:06 pm

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols will most likely wear a St. Louis Cardinals hat when he's ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame, but there still may be a question. We just don't know at this point. There are those players who go into the Hall without a doubt of which hat they'll wear, because it's the only one they ever wore. 

While the Hall of Fame is an elite club, there's a more elite club -- one of Hall of Famers who played their entire career with one organization. Currently there are 47 such players in Cooperstown, with the possibility of one more joining their ranks if Barry Larkin is voted in when the next class is announced in January.

It seemed like Pujols would be one of those guys -- there was even talk of a statue being built at Busch Stadium while he was still active. That statue will have to wait -- and it could be a long time before he's honored like that in St. Louis. 

So, if Pujols isn't going to join that club, who may? Here's four who may be able to claim they spent all of their entire major league career with one team.

Both Derek Jeter and Mariano River are first-ballot Hall of Fame players, both are nearing the end of their careers and both received new contracts with the Yankees last season. Jeter, 37, has two more years on his contract, plus a player option for 2014. He may play after he turns 40, but there's an almost zero percent chance the Yankees let him do it in another uniform. The same can be said for Rivera, 42. The all-time saves leader is under contract for 2012 and is unliekly to play anywhere else.

The third guy is Chipper Jones, who will turn 40 on April 24 and is under contract through 2012 with a club option for 2013 that becomes guaranteed if he plays 123 games this season. Jones has been on the verge of retiring the last two years. Like Jeter and Rivera, it seems unthinkable he'd ever wear another uniform as a player.

And that leads us to the fourth player, who will not only have an asterisk on this list if he does go into the Hall with his current team, but also the one of this group most likely to play for a different team (but even that chance seems slight -- but not as slight as the other three), and that's Ichiro Suzuki. The asterisk is that of course he played the first half of his career for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan before coming to the Mariners in 2000. Some will debate whether he'd be in the Hall if he retired today, but I find it hard to believe he could be left out. Suzuki is in the final year of his five-year extension he signed in 2007 and with the Mariners going through a rebuilding phase, he may not fit into their plans. Another team could be interested, or he could return to Japan. However, it's been suggested he really wants to get to 3,000 hits in the United States. He's at 2,428 right now and would need at least three more years to get there -- that could be two with a different team.

There are some other players that aren't sure-fire Hall of Famers that could still get there and do it with one team, but there's still a lot to be proven. The closest to the end of his career is the Rangers' Michael Young, who would need to get to 3,000 hits before he had a shot at the Hall. Young, 35, has 2,061 hits, so even that seems unlikely. Then there are the young, talented players who have a lot more to prove before getting there. However, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria and Matt Kemp all have one thing in common -- long-term contracts with their current team. 

Here's the list of Hall of Famers who played for just one team, sorted by team:

Yankees: Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto.

Dodgers: Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson.

Giants: Carl Hubbell, Travis Jackson, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Ross Youngs.

Pirates: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor.

Red Sox: Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski.

Indians: Bob Feller, Addie Joss, Bob Lemon.

Orioles: Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson.

White Sox: Luke Appling, Red Faber, Ted Lyons.

Cardinals: Bob Gibson, Stan Musial.

Reds: Johnny Bench, Bid McPhee.

Tigers: Charlie Gehringer, Al Kaline.

Brewers: Robin Yount.

Cubs: Ernie Banks.

Padres: Tony Gwynn.

Phillies: Mike Schmidt.

Royals: George Brett.

Senators: Walter Johnson.

Twins: Kirby Puckett.

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Since: Jul 21, 2007
Posted on: December 19, 2011 2:12 am

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

I'd like to see the Cardinals say, "No albert, you can't wear St. Louis colors into the Hall. That honor is reserved for players or other personnel who end their careers with the team. albert's departure shows he was more concerned with "getting his" than winning. Sad too, there's no other profession a man can choose (perhaps acting) where he can make $14 million a season. I also don't buy this idea that the Angels is where "God" wants albert to play ball. Imagine the arrogance at assuming you could live up to the expectations of a 10-year deal? I think, given that size contract, St. Louis came out ahead by not tying up so much capital in albert.

But, he's a professional athlete and in the modern era that means shop your services to the highest bidder. I just hope the next superstar who stabs his home team in the back doesn't leave saying "it wasn't about the money." Justin Verlander, should you ever decide to leave Detroit for the East Coast, just be honest and say you wanted to play closer to where your family and friends live.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:11 am

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

Larkin will be by this time next year.

- Snyder

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:12 pm

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

BTW- As long as Phil Rizzuto is in the Hall, it's hard to imagine why Barry Larkin, Dave Concepcion, and Alan Trammel aren't.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:08 pm

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

If I were the Cardinals, I would object to Pujols in a Cardinal uni at the HOF. What's his signing say for his Cardinal legacy ? It wasn't about winning, it was about the money ? 


Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:50 pm

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

i agree he's a first-ballot guy, but there are others who do not...

and ichiro speaks english. i've spoken to him in english. he just doesn't like to do interviews in english because he's not confident he'll use the right words. but he speaks english.

i'm not so sure bobby v is 'fluent' in japanese.


Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:48 pm

Pujols won't join exclusive Hall of Fame club

Ichuro HAS to be a slam dunk first ballot HOF er. Look at his #'s since he has come over!  If MLB had actually been SERIOUSLY scouting japan 15 or 20 years ago and Ichuro would have come over at 20 or 21 he would be looking at 4000 hits by now. I'm not a big fan of him personly as I have heard he hasn't even bothered to learn English yet ( The much maligned Bobby valentine went over there to manage and he learned basicly fluent Japanese)The Japan league is not on the level of MLB but you must still give credit where it is due.

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