01/06/2003 11:14 AM ET
Trammell doesn't expect induction
DETROIT -- Don't expect Alan Trammell to wait by the phone Tuesday for a call from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
While Detroit's baseball community continues to debate Trammell's credentials against those of 2002 Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, Trammell has made his peace with the process.
"I think in my mind it's just a remote possibility," Trammell said. "If it happens, it's going to be years away. I'm not really thinking about it. I have so many other things on my mind. But I think even if I wasn't in this position (as Tigers manager), I wouldn't really be thinking about it. I'm fine with that. I'm not even going to campaign."
Trammell is one of three former Tigers on the baseball writers ballot, the results of which will be announced Tuesday. Two ex-teammates, Jack Morris and first-timer Mickey Tettleton, join him on the 33-player ballot.
Trammell's sentiment comes from how few votes he received in his first year of eligibility. A candidate must be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast by baseball writers to be elected to the Hall. Had he received 40 percent in his first year, he would've felt good about his chances. Instead, he received 15.7 percent, enough to stay on the ballot for this year but not enough to produce hope he'll be there much longer.
"I guess after having been through it, my expectations of hoping last year to maybe get more of a percentage, that's kind of a process for most of the guys," Trammell said. "But it looks like a Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Goose Gossage they got a certain percentage and they were building on it."
That low vote total last year sparked a rather passionate argument among Tiger fans and some writers about what Trammell didn't have that Ozzie Smith did.
"I definitely think he deserves to be there," Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell said of Trammell. "He didn't have the flash that Ozzie Smith did, but he was an excellent defensive player day-in and day-out over the course of his career. I can't think of anyone else I'd want the ball hit to with the game on the line."
Trammell's career defensive credentials don't have to take an honorable mention. He won four Gold Gloves in a five-year stretch from 1980-84 before Tony Fernandez and later Omar Vizquel put a stranglehold on the award. When he retired in 1996, his .977 fielding percentage was higher than any from a Hall of Fame shortstop.
Offensively, only Robin Yount and Ernie Banks among Hall of Fame shortstops have more home runs than Trammell's 185. Only eight Hall of Fame shortstops have 1,000 runs scored and 1,000 RBIs, a mark Trammell reached by three RBIs.
The argument persists, however, that Trammell is remembered more as a duo with Lou Whitaker than as an individual player. While that may overshadow Trammell's credentials on their own, he believes Whitaker has more of a case to gripe about being snubbed than he does.
"If you want to put a case for myself, I think you can really put in a case for Lou," he said. "And nobody even brings his name up. That bothers me. I may be biased, but I definitely think he's worthy of the Hall of Fame. Whether he is or not, he deserves to be on that ballot.
"I actually enjoyed that it was both of us," he continued, "that it was Lou and Tram. That really hasn't happened in the history of baseball. We were a long-running double-play combination and we went about the way of business that was our way. Maybe we didn't get recognized, but that's not what we played for. We were taught the game the right way. We were very happy. But to be known as that kind of duo is very special. Nobody can take that away."
Trammell's new job as manager will put him back in the public eye and back on the minds of fans and writers. If he can lead a turnaround of the Tigers' fortunes on the field, he might start to build a Hall of Fame career as a skipper. He doesn't expect, however, that the publicity will make much of a difference in voters' minds, nor would he want it to.
"The way they rated me was that I was a fine player, but not worthy of the Hall of Fame," he said. "If that's the way it is, I can live with that. I feel like I accomplished a lot, I'm happy with it, but I feel like I'm on the edge. I don't know what else to say.
"Do I think I'm worthy? I'm worthy."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.