Tony Womack for the Hall of FamePosted: January 3, 2012
At some point in the next few days, the name(s) of the people elected to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame will be announced. There has been much banter about who should or shouldn’t be elected as always. Honestly, I haven’t looked into it deeply enough to form my own opinion about some of the borderline players. However, there is one player that I have yet to see a vote for who I believe has earned consideration, namely, Tony Womack. Here we go.
I know what you’re saying: “Tony Womack was at best just above replacement level and should probably not even be on the ballot.” Maybe you’re right. But let’s take a closer look at his career, shall we?
Womack led the National League in stolen bases three consecutive years. You know who else did that? Lou Brock, Willie Mays, Kiki Cuyler and Max Carey among others. That’s some good company. His 363 career stolen bases ranks above Hughie Jennings, Buck Ewing and Rod Carew – three more hall of famers. He is one of only 19 players to exceed the 60 stolen base mark more than once in the expansion era. Simply put, Womack was one of the most prolific base-stealers of all time.
Baseball Prospectus says: “…Womack is a track star…”
Womack was also versatile. He played three key defensive positions for over 100 games each and two more for 40 games each. Though he never won a Gold Glove, he was certainly more than adequate each place he played. Not only was he versatile on the field, he was also versatile in the batting order, accumulating at least 100 plate appearances in five different lineup spots. A majority of his time was spent at the most important spot — leading off.
Baseball Prospectus says: “As a child, I […] believed that Tony Womack was a great leadoff man…”
In 1995, a year where Womack did not play in the Major Leagues, the Pirates went 58-86. In 1996, he played in 17 games and they went 73-89. In 1997, he got into 155 games, went to the All-Star game and received NL MVP votes. The Pirates finished 79-83, their best season since letting Barry Bonds walk in free agency.
Baseball Prospectus says: “[Womack was]…a major reason why the Pirates finished in second place…”
Womack has never been and will never be linked to steroids, even though he played in the peak of the “Steroid Era.” He had integrity and played the game to the best of his ability.
Does it get any more clutch than being down by one in the bottom of the ninth inning in game seven of the World Series facing the best relief pitcher of all time? That’s where Tony Womack was on November 4, 2001. All he did was hit an RBI double to tie the game and allow Luis Gonzalez to knock in the World Series winning run. He had the highest winning probability added in that game.
Well there you have it. Tony Womack was the whole package. He was versatile, clutch and a winner. But most importantly, he cared for the game and always tried his hardest. He has the integrity and resume to earn a plaque next to the greats of this old game.