Tiant awaits Veterans' Hall vote
Right-hander's record similar to other inductees
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before the Red Sox had Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling, they had another money pitcher who always seemed to come through when the pressure was at its most intense point. Luis Tiant -- the pride of Cuba -- gained so much popularity in his years with the Sox that he is still a revered figure around New England.
However, Tiant never received such warmth during the 15 years (1988-2002) he was on the Baseball Writers Association of America's Hall of Fame ballot. He peaked by receiving 30.91 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility, well short of the 75 percent necessary for election.
"El Tiante" has moved to a different potential pathway for Cooperstown, as he is on this year's Veteran's Committee Ballot, results of which will be announced on Tuesday.
"Luis is definitely a Hall of Famer," said former Sox right fielder Dwight Evans. "His numbers support it. When that bullpen door unlatched, [Fenway Park] would go crazy. It was the same way every time, the same way they do it for Schilling now. You talk about pitch counts. I remember in the World Series in '75 (Game 4), he threw 172 pitches. He had a big heart."
When you access Tiant's profile on baseballreference.com, the two pitchers the site says he's most comparable to are both in the Hall of Fame -- Catfish Hunter and Jim Bunning.
click player names for full bios:
Dick Allen (1963-77)
Bobby Bonds (1968-81)
Ken Boyer (1955-69)
Rocky Colavito (1955-68)
Wes Ferrell (1927-41)
Curt Flood (1956-69, 71)
Joe Gordon (1938-50)
Gil Hodges (1943, 1947-63)
Elston Howard (1955-68)
Jim Kaat (1959-83)
Mickey Lolich (1963-79)
Sparky Lyle (1967-82)
Marty Marion (1940-50, 52-53)
Roger Maris (1957-68)
Carl Mays (1915-29)
(1949, 1951-64, 76, 80)
Thurman Munson (1969-79)
Tony Oliva (1962-76)
Vada Pinson (1958-75)
Ron Santo (1960-74)
Luis Tiant (1964-82)
Joe Torre (1960-77)
Smoky Joe Wood
Maury Wills (1959-72)
Tiant split his 19-year career between the Indians (1964-69), Twins ('70), Red Sox ('71-78), Yankees ('79-80), Pirates ('81) and Angels ('82), going 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA. He was a 20-game winner four times and posted a ridiculous 1.62 ERA in 1968, which was, to be fair, a season in which offensive stats were down throughout baseball.
"All of the fans who watched me and players who played with me, they all know," said Tiant, who is an instructor in the Red Sox organization. "I don't have to tell you anything else. That's the way it was. Everybody who saw me pitch knows what I did. Everyone who talks to me says, 'Why aren't you in the Hall of Fame?'"
By comparison, Hunter -- who won five World Series rings and was fortunate enough to play on more good teams than Tiant -- went 224-166 with a 3.26 ERA while pitching slightly less innings (3449 1/3) than Tiant (3486 1/3). Bunning? He went 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA.
Because those pitchers were Hall of Famers, it's hard to say why Tiant isn't.
"Not too many people have [entered the Hall]," said Tiant. "Those are the best players in the world there. That's as big an honor as any player could have. I'm not going to lose a day of sleep. I'm proud of what I do. I did what I never thought I would do in my life. If they pick me, fine; if not, fine. The game gave me a lot, more than I ever expected. I'm still making money from baseball; I still work in baseball. I'm proud the way I did it because it took a lot of sacrifice."
He also takes pride in how much the savvy baseball fans of Boston appreciated his work.
"Boston is my town, my second country," said Tiant. "People there have been nice to me. People respect me, show me love. They show appreciation for what I did."
Tiant isn't the only player with Sox ties on this year's Veterans Committee ballot. Also up for election are Smokey Joe Wood, Elston Howard, Wes Ferrell and Carl Mays.
Right-hander Wood retired in 1922 with a 116-57 record. He spent eight of his 11 years in Boston and went an eye-popping 34-12 for Boston's second World Series championship team in 1912.
Catcher Howard is far more known for his years of excellence with the Yankees, but was an in-season addition to the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox of 1967.
Ferrell went 193-128 in his career, pitching for the Sox from 1934-37.
Before going on to do big things with the Yankees, Mays -- 207-126 in his career -- teamed with Babe Ruth on the great Red Sox teams that won titles in 1915, '16 and '18.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.