Hall of Fame voting is still many months away, but we will take a brief look now, during the “dog days of summer”, at who will be on the ballot and who is a likely candidate to get voted in for 2019.
For those who are uninitiated, the Bull League’s Hall of Fame allows for fairly brief entry. Players need only be retired for two complete seasons before becoming eligible to be named on the ballot. They require just five years of playing time (though all inductees have much more), but are only kept on the ballot for five years.
A vote of 75% or more is required to be inducted, and players failing to attain 10% of votes are dropped off the balloting. Inductee announcements are made in the third week of January.
Still on the ballot from 2018
The 2018 ballot had 13 eligible players, 7 of whom were on it for their second year, and the rest for their first time. Only Jacques Papierclip, the legendary lefty for the Chicoutimi Cinquantes (now Detroit Motorheads) and Seattle Salts, an 8-time all-star and one-time Gold Crown award winner, back before the DH rule was introduced, was inducted.
Papierclip led all Bull League pitchers in home runs batted, and hit an impressive .270 in 1997, the year he won his Gold Crown. In his first year of eligibility, 2017 (when the eligibility time was 5 years after retirement), he garnered 66.8% of the votes, close but not good enough to make it in. However, though he never won a Sandy Koufax Award or a Bull Cup, he did come close, placing 2nd in voting for the SKA twice (2002 and 2007), 3rd once (2003), and had several playoff appearances with the Cinquantes and the Salts.
He was inducted this year with confidence, taking 82.5% of the votes. Two players, Nick Dune and Adam Gordon, were dropped after failing to achieve 10% of the votes.
Among the top names still on the ballot from last year are Prennick Argon, a long-time infielder for the San Diego Seagulls (now St. Petersburg Admirals), and speedster Dave Norman, the all-time stolen base king of the Bull League. Argon was just shy of induction at 73.3% in the last ballot. A solid player during his career, and the all-time single-season batting leader for the Admirals (.401 set in 1999), he nevertheless didn’t have the type of career numbers normally found in the Hall. However, he will likely earn an induction next year.
Dave Norman may have to wait another year. Other than dominating the base paths with his blazing speed, and hitting generally above .300 most of his career, he had few distinguishing events or awards during his career. Norman did not win an MVP or Bull Cup, was frequently injured, and only made 5 all-star appearances.
Still, Norman is deserving for his all-tie stolen base feat alone, a total of 303 that more than 80 above the next active player (Miguel Ortega, who is ranked 3rd). His single-season record of 44 stands unopposed with Nate Morris the net active player on the leaderboard, ranked 19th, with 31 steals (in 2006).
Joining Norman as a first time ballot this year was Richmond Ravens and Chicago Pit Bulls veteran Arturo Davila, one of the league’s best-ever relievers. Davila also spent some time with Ohio and Montreal, where he won two Bull Cups. But it was his Ravens and Pit Bulls years that won him a Rookie of the Year in 2005 (with Richmond) and four of his five Woodchuck Trophies for being named the best reliever (the fifth was awarded while with Ohio).
Davila is 5th on the all-time career saves leaderboard, though as a reliever he did not rate enough innings to appear on the ERA and WHIP leaderboards, despite holding a career 2.07 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He struck out batters at a blistering 10.4 K/9IP pace, 440 during his career, over just 365.1 career innings in 321 relief appearances. Davila is certainly worthy of the Hall but may not get in until near the end of his 5 years on the ballot, as the Hall is unforgiving for relief pitchers.
The New Faces of 2019
Three players are newly eligible for the first time in 2019: Ricky Terrazas, Eric Tessier, and Donovan Ball. Little needs to be said of Terrazas. The Chicago and Montreal great is absolutely among the greats, having won nine Sandy Koufax Awards during his 17-year career, a number that many doubt will ever be reached again. Add to that three MVP awards, ten All-Star appearances, two Bull Cups and a Bull Cup MVP, and he is by far the most trophied pitcher ever to play in the Bull League.
Terrazas does hold some single-game and career pitching records worthy of note, particularly his single-season hits allowed per 9 IP of 4.80 set in 2008, and his career low opponent OPS of .580, but he appears in the top 5 or 10 names of nearly every pitching leaderboard, a testament to his elite level athletic skills. Terrazas was a #1 prospect who blossomed, and he is only the second pitcher to ever achieve two Triple Crowns (the other is 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Jack Stevens).
Terrazas is almost certainly going to be a first ballot inductee in 2019, and many look forward to the day when his name is permanently cast into a Hall of Fame plaque.
Tessier, a 41-year-old from Montague, PEI, played 21 years in the Bull League, nearly all of it with the Toronto Ducks (now Nomads). Tessier was so close to the city that he came back and played his final season there in 2016, hitting a respectable .241 despite his best years being well behind him. Tessier was a Rookie of the Year in 2000, and was later named an MVP, picking up 9 all-star appearances and six Gold Crowns during his career, and set many Toronto club batting records along the way. He also hold Bull League single-season batting records for OBP, Slugging, OPS, runs and home runs, among catchers (though 2017 inductee Mike Lapi holds many of the career catcher’s batting records).
Donovan Ball is another closer who will try for the Hall, a decent enough arm during his career, even accumulating more saves and K’s than HOF candidate Davila. But Ball had many more rougher outings, allowing many more runs to score and dampening his ERA and WHIP, highly prizes stats for relief pitchers. Ball is unlikely to gain admission into the Hall, but time will tell.
Ballots open to Bull League GM’s in December.