Vets Committee votes Herzog into Hall
Former Royals owner Kauffman falls short of induction
INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a split decision for the Kansas City Royals when the Veterans Committees' selections for the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced on Monday at the Winter Meetings.
Former Royals manager Whitey Herzog was chosen for induction, but franchise founder Ewing Kauffman fell short of election.
Herzog, who won three division titles for the Royals but gained his greatest fame with the cross-state Cardinals, was named along with umpire Doug Harvey by the Veterans Committee on managers and umpires.
Herzog received 14 of 16 votes, with 75 percent -- or 12 votes -- necessary for election. Harvey got 15 votes.
Kauffman was considered by a second Veterans Committee on executives and pioneers, which elected none of its 10 candidates. With 75 percent -- nine votes of 12 -- needed for election, Kauffman received six and finished behind Tigers owner John Fetzer (8), union director Marvin Miller and Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert (7 each).
Braves president John Schuerholz, a member of the latter committee, worked for Kauffman as Minor League director and later as general manager.
"I'm proud of the fact that he got the number of votes that he got, from the small, Midwestern city of Kansas City," Schuerholz said. "I think it really shows positively for the impact that he had, not only on baseball in Kansas City but how people recognized and respected him around the nation."
In the 2007 vote by the committee, Kauffman finished fourth with five votes, and the three candidates ahead of him all were elected to the Hall. Current Royals owner David Glass is a member of the committee and championed the election of Kauffman, who can be considered again in ''11.
Under Kauffman, the Royals became a division winner within seven years.
VETERANS COMMITTEE VOTING MANAGERS/UMPIRES BALLOT
|Davey Johnson||Fewer than 3|
|Tom Kelly||Fewer than 3|
|Billy Martin||Fewer than 3|
|Gene Mauch||Fewer than 3|
|Steve O'Neill||Fewer than 3|
"If you worked for him, you better come up with a winner," Schuerholz said. "You talk about a winner in life, Mr. K was a winner in everything he did -- whether it was in business, baseball, industry or card-playing. Whatever it was, he was a winner, and he expected you to be the same when you worked for him."
Herzog was a winner for Kauffman, posting consecutive American League West titles for the Royals in 1976-77-78.
"He got there after [Jack] McKeon got fired, and we made a little run on the world champion Oakland A's that year and the next year we knocked them off," said George Brett, a Hall of Fame star for Herzog. "It's a pretty good compliment when you knock off the three-time defending world champions."
Herzog, though, was dismissed by Kauffman after a second-place finish in the 1979 season, finishing with a 410-304 record and the best winning percentage, .574, in club history.
"Then he went over to St. Louis and traded some of their most popular players, and at first they wanted to hang him," Brett recalled. "Then they started to win, and the people said, 'Hey, this guy's pretty good, he knows what he's doing.' And the Cardinals have been contenders ever since."
The late manager Gene Mauch once said of Herzog: "He's better at assembling the parts of a winning team than anyone in baseball."
Schuerholz, who worked closely with Herzog in KC, saw that first-hand.
"He did have that knack as all of the great ones do, and he also had a knack of getting those guys to play well and play with enthusiasm. He played the game to win," Schuerholz said.
Schuerholz noted that Herzog's arrival helped the Royals' organization grow and that, as he did later in St. Louis, he adapted to the contours and artificial turf of what was then called Royals Stadium.
"We all adapted to it. You had to have athleticism and speed and we tried to create a roster like that and he managed the heck out of it," Schuerholz said. "He was effervescent, aggressive, confident -- all the things that made him a great and now Hall of Fame manager."
Getting word of Herzog's election took Brett back to the day in 1999 when he got his Hall of Fame news.
"I'm very, very happy for him," Brett said." "You kind of forget, when it's not your day, you don't realize that somebody is going to get a phone call that's going to impact their life for their rest of their life, and today was Whitey's day."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.