photo: Vince Coleman, John Tudor, Lee Smith, Ray Lankford (Getty Images)
As the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame moves into its fifth year of existence, it will again soon be time to open the fan-driven voting process for “Modern Era” players – those greats who retired in the last 40 years.
To that end, the 2018 edition of the “Red Ribbon Committee” of Cardinals baseball experts met recently. Our mission was to evaluate the merits of over 20 former team greats, with the goal of whittling that list down to somewhere around a third.
That is never an easy job with so many more deserving candidates than votes allowed.
Modern era fan vote opens March 1
On Wednesday evening, the Cardinals disclosed the names of the 2018 Modern Era finalists – seven individuals delineated by the committee’s voting distribution.
2018 marks the arrival of four new choices. This is the first time that Vince Coleman, John Tudor, Lee Smith and Ray Lankford will appear on the fan ballot. They join returnees Keith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen and Scott Rolen.
Two are assured of entering the Cardinals Hall in 2018.
Fans will select the winners from this list via an online voting process that will run from March 1 through April 12. In August, the pair will be among the fifth elected class to be enshrined into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
When inducted, they will join the 2017 fan vote winners Tim McCarver and Mark McGwire, and veteran selection Pepper Martin, along with the 34 prior Hall of Fame members.
Steve Carlton and Edgar Renteria fell short in committee votes and did not return to the ballot this year, however, they could return later, unlike the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, Carlton left the fan ballot and returned once before.
Among other former Cardinals greats considered in the secret ballot process are outfielders George Hendrick and Brian Jordan and infielders Tom Herr, Jose Oquendo and Garry Templeton. Pitchers also under consideration for the Modern Era fan ballot include Joaquin Andujar, Al Hrabosky, Joe Magrane, Jeff Suppan and Todd Worrell.
Two other potential Hall additions
The “Red Ribbon” committee of Cardinals baseball experts has one other annual task. After considerable discussion, via another secret ballot, we voted in one individual from the “Veteran Era” category – those having completed their careers more than 40 years ago.
The merits of eight very strong candidates from St. Louis’ rich baseball history were considered in depth. They are first basemen Ripper Collins, Orlando Cepeda and Bill White, third baseman Whitey Kurowski, outfielder Ray Blades and pitchers Harry Brecheen, Mort Cooper and Bill Doak.
The final annual inductee may be an important figure from team history, such as a coach, broadcaster or member of the front office. This pick, if made, will be done at the club’s discretion and would be the fourth member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame Class of 2018. This selection was skipped in 2017.
These two final selections – the “Veteran Era” and the ownership selection – will be announced along with identities of the two “Modern Era” ballot winners following the close of fan voting.
What is next?
When voting is open, please participate. It is easy and logical to think that one vote does not matter, but it does. For example, in 2016, just two hundredths of one percent separated the second and third-place candidates – with one getting in and the other not. Just a handful of votes could have swung that election in the opposite direction.
Here are the key dates to remember. Voting opens on Thursday, March 1. The 2018 Class will be announced on Friday, May 4 during a Hall of Fame announcement special on FOX Sports Midwest, and also in a pre-game ceremony at Busch Stadium that evening. The formal enshrinement ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 18, culminating the Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
For details on each of the seven Modern Era candidates during the St. Louis segment of their careers, check out the following, provided courtesy of the Cardinals:
Vince Coleman (#ColemanHOF)
Years: 1985 – 1990 .265/.326/.339, 937 H, 549 SB, 556 R, 56 3B (878 Games)
Vince Coleman burst on to the scene in 1985 by stealing 110 bases as a rookie, a MLB record that still stands today, and winning National League Rookie of the Year honors. Coleman would continue to lead the National League in stolen bases throughout his six seasons as the Cardinals primary left-fielder while being named to two All-Star teams. A member of two National League pennant winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Coleman’s 549 career stolen bases rank him second all-time in franchise history behind Lou Brock.
Keith Hernandez (#HernandezHOF)
Years: 1974 – 1983 .299/.385/.448, 1217 H, 265 2B, 81 HR, 595 RBI, 662 R
Keith Hernandez played 10 seasons with the Cardinals, winning six straight Gold Gloves from 1978-1983 at first base. He was a National League co-MVP in 1979, batting a league leading .344 with 11 HR and 105 RBI. The two-time All-Star was a member of the 1982 World Championship team and batted .299 that season with 94 RBI.
Jason Isringhausen (#IzzyHOF)
Years: 2002 – 2008 217 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Jason Isringhausen spent seven seasons with the Cardinals. During his time with the team, the Cardinals won the Central Division in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with World Series appearances in 2004 and 2006, winning the World Series in 2006. He registered a National League-leading 47 saves in 2004, tying the franchise record which Lee Smith set, until Trevor Rosenthal broke the record in 2015. An All-Star in 2005, “Izzy” still holds the franchise record for saves with 217, and is sixth with 401 appearances with St. Louis.
Ray Lankford (#LankfordHOF)
Years: 1990 – 2001, 2004 .273/.365/.481, 1479 H, 928 R, 228 HR, 829 RBI, 250 SB (1580 Games)
Ray Lankford was known for his combination of speed and power during his 13 seasons in St. Louis. Lankford recorded five 20-20 seasons (with four consecutive from 1995-1998) and ranks fifth all-time in club history in home runs and stolen bases. He is the only player in Cardinals history with at least 200 home runs and 200 steals, and hit more home runs in Busch Stadium II than any other player (123). The long-time Cardinal center fielder was named to the All-Star team in 1997 and still ranks in the all-time Top-10 franchise leaders in Runs (9th), Total Bases (10th), Doubles (9th), Runs Batted In (8th), Walks (5th) and Game Winning-RBI (T-2nd).
Scott Rolen (#RolenHOF)
Years: 2002 – 2007 .286/.370/.510, 678 H, 421 R, 173 2Bs, 111 HR, 453 RBI (661 Games)
In his five plus seasons with the Cardinals, Scott Rolen dominated the hot corner winning Gold Gloves in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006, and a Silver Slugger award in 2002. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and named to the All-Busch Stadium team as the third baseman by vote of fans. In 2004, Rolen slashed .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBI. His stellar 2004 campaign continued during the postseason with his pennant-clinching, two-run homer off Roger Clemens in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series vs. Houston. In 2006, Rolen helped the club to its 10th World Championship, closing out the postseason with a 10-game hitting streak.
Lee Smith (#SmithHOF)
Years: 1990 – 1993 160 Saves, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 266.2 IP (245 Games)
Known as one of the most feared closers in baseball history, Lee Smith recorded at least 43 saves in three of his four seasons with the Cardinals, leading the league in 1991 and 1992. During his Cardinals career, Smith earned three All-Star selections and finished in the Top-4 of National League Cy Young voting twice. His 160 saves stood as a club record until Jason Isringhausen surpassed that total in 2007.
John Tudor (#TudorHOF)
Years: 1985 – 1988, 1990 62-26, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12 SHO, 881.2 IP (125 Games Started)
During his five plus seasons in a Cardinals uniform, John Tudor accumulated a .705 winning percentage and 2.52 ERA over 125 starts, both of which still stand as all-time Cardinals records (minimum 750.0 IP). The left-hander’s finest season came in 1985 when he won 21 games (went 20-1 after June 1) with a miniscule 1.93 ERA, including 10 complete game shutouts, and finished second in National League Cy Young voting. A member of two National League pennant winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Tudor won at least 10 games in each of the four full seasons he pitched for the Redbirds.
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