Alas, neither player will be entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame this year, it was announced on Sunday. Mattingly and Munson appeared on a 10-man ballot of candidates who were considered for enshrinement in Cooperstown, N.Y., through the Modern Baseball Era Committee. Of the candidates, longtime catcher Ted Simmons and late Major League Baseball Players Association director Marvin Miller received enough votes for entry.
The Modern Baseball Era Committee considers individuals who contributed to the sport from 1970-87 and are no longer eligible through the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) process. Players must receive votes on 12 of the committee’s 16 ballots to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Mattingly and Munson each received three or fewer votes.
Exact totals were not released by the Hall for Mattingly or Munson. Simmons (13) and Miller (12) reached the necessary 75 percent threshold, followed by Dwight Evans (8), Dave Parker (7), Steve Garvey (6) and Lou Whitaker (6).
In addition to Mattingly and Munson, Tommy John and Dale Murphy each received three or fewer votes.
Mattingly, the 1985 American League MVP Award winner, batted .307/.358/.471 with 222 home runs and 1,099 RBIs over a 14-year playing career that spanned from ‘82-95, all with the Yankees.
A six-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, Mattingly memorably edged teammate Dave Winfield for the 1984 AL batting title (.343). Currently the manager of the Marlins, Mattingly has 2,153 hits on his resume and led the AL in total bases in ‘85 and ’86. He appeared to be on a clear path toward the Hall before back injuries robbed his power during the latter half of his playing career.
“I just didn't play long enough,” Mattingly said in December 2018. “I wasn't able to stay healthy long enough to really put that pile of numbers together. There was a period of time that I could hit with anybody and do things on the field at my position and with the bat that nobody was doing.”
Munson, the 1970 AL Rookie of the Year and the '76 AL MVP, batted .292/.346/.410 with 113 home runs and 701 RBIs over an 11-year career with the Yankees that tragically ended with his death at age 32 in an Aug. 1979 plane crash.
A seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, Munson won two World Series (1977, ’78) in pinstripes. He is one of only two catchers in history to bat .300 with 180 hits and 100 RBIs over three consecutive seasons. (Hall of Famer Mike Piazza equaled the feat from '96-98.)
Diana Munson, the captain’s widow, said that she believes Munson would have gone on to a successful career managing the Yankees after his playing days were over -- a job that George Steinbrenner seemed to be grooming Munson for.
“He still had that little kid love for baseball in him,” Diana Munson said. “Baseball was what it was all about for him. He knew that George was kind of mentoring him to be the manager. I often laugh because I think the scenario would have been, he would hire Thurman, they’d get into a scuffle, he’d be fired and then Billy [Martin] would come in.
“And Billy would get into a scuffle and Thurman would be hired again. I wonder how many times he would have been hired and fired. Mr. Steinbrenner loved Thurman and Thurman loved Mr. Steinbrenner. It was almost a father-son kind of deal. I think they both had such mutual respect. I think it would’ve been a good marriage.”
The Modern Baseball Era Committee is comprised of Hall of Famers George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount, MLB executives Sandy Alderson, Dave Dombrowski, David Glass, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin and Terry Ryan, and media members/historians Bill Center, Steve Hirdt, Jack O’Connell and Tracy Ringolsby.