by Clark Groome
Even before Pat Burrell was officially inducted onto the Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame a couple of weeks ago, predictions and wishes were expressed about who else from that 2008 World Series team should be honored by inclusion on the Wall.
The names that came up most often, and likely would be non-controversial additions to the Wall, were – not surprisingly – Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Brad Lidge.
But hold on: According to the rules, Lidge isn’t eligible.
The rules state “Phillies players with five or more years of service are eligible. In addition, position players require a minimum of 700 games, while pitchers need a minimum of 180 games to be eligible. Managers and coaches need four or more years of service.
“With rare exception, all candidates must be retired for three years before they can be eligible … . Consideration is given to longevity, ability, character, and contributions to the Phillies and baseball, plus special achievements.”
Lidge isn’t eligible because he was only on the Phillies’ roster for four years, not the required five. During that time, he appeared in 214 games, 44 more than the minimum required of pitchers, saving 100 of them. His save record was 41-0 in 2008, making him, as much as anyone on that team, a key to its ultimate success, certainly a “special achievement.”
So what to do?
Make an exception. Waive the five-year requirement and allow Lidge – whose “ability, character, and contributions to the Phillies,” clearly make him worthy of recognition – to be included on the Wall.
If that were to happen, it wouldn’t be the first time exceptions were made.
There are no official provisions for Phillies other than players and coaches/managers to be included, yet in 2009, the year he died, longtime announcer Harry Kalas was the popular and right choice for enshrinement.
Just last year, only a year after he was replaced as manager, Charlie Manuel was put on the Wall.
So they have exercised flexibility before and could very well do so again.
In addition to Lidge, I would again propose that three former players and a former manager be considered for inclusion.
Roy “Doc” Halladay belongs on the Wall. Because of his career-ending injury, Halladay is a year and 77 games short.
His time with the Phillies was, however, outstanding. It included a perfect game May 29, 2010, against the Florida Marlins (the 20th in baseball history) and a post-season no-hitter, only the second ever, on Oct. 6 of that year, the year he was the unanimous choice for his second Cy Young Award. Talk about more “special achievements!”
In what might be more of a stretch, Jim Thome should be up there too. He was only here for parts of four seasons and appeared in 391 games, slightly more than half the required 700. He was, however, the player whose acquisition began the team’s turnaround from NL East also-ran at the Vet to years of division dominance at Citizens Bank Park. He was the reason Charlie Manuel came to the Phillies.
Jim Fregosi managed the team from 1991 to 1996 and led the 1993 squad to the World Series just a year after it had been last in its division.
Lefty Carlton’s designated catcher and Hall of Fame broadcaster Tim McCarver should be there too. He played in Philadelphia from 1970 to 1972 and again from 1975 to 1980, when he retired. He’s 72 games shy of the mandated 700, but when he was working with Carlton he was a major contributor to his success. He began his broadcasting career with Kalas here in Philadelphia.
The Wall of Fame is special, but it doesn’t need to be inflexible when there are people who deserve recognition even when they don’t quite meet the established criteria. All halls of fame do that on occasion, and, as long as it’s rarely done, it doesn’t diminish the honor but enhances it.