Numerous readers had sent me follow-up emails with their earlier ballots expressing excitement regarding the 1980s ballot for the DoU Hall of Greatness project that we began a couple weeks ago. As it turns out, restricting the ballot to only ten names left a couple players who I expected to reach the 65% plateau on the outside looking in.
Ultimately, readers voted five players into the DoU Hall of Greatness: Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas, and Rollie Fingers. Both Yount and Molitor were unanimous selections, while Cooper narrowly missed a couple ballots and fell short of the perfect ballot.
Robin Yount is considered the greatest player to ever don a Milwaukee Brewers uniform. He played 20 seasons in Milwaukee and is the only two-time MVP in franchise history. He’s only a three-time All Star — which surprised me — and finished with a career .285/.342/.430 slash line. The 1982 season will always be a special season in Brewers history, but that was the year that really put Yount on the national map. He hit .331/.379/.578 with 29 home runs and compiled an otherworldly +10.5 WAR. Between 1974 and 1993, only six players had more wins above replacement than Yount. He was not only an elite player in Milwaukee, but he was one of the elite players of that generation. It’s only fitting that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Paul Molitor made his big-league debut with the Brewers in 1978 at only 21 years old, hitting .273/.301/.372 and finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. He ultimately played 15 seasons in Milwaukee and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. The Minnesota native played second and third base for the Brewers throughout his career, but he was never really known for his glove. Instead, he was known as one of the most professional hitters of the 1980s — finishing his career in Milwaukee with a .303/.367/.444 slash line. If it weren’t for Yount, Molitor would possibly be the leading candidate for best Milwaukee Brewers player in the history of the organization.
First baseman Cecil Cooper played six years for the Boston Red Sox to begin his professional career, but he didn’t become a feared hitter until he came to Milwaukee in 1977. His years between 1979 and 1983 were tremendous. In those five seasons, he hit .320/.359/.517 with 123 home runs and 535 RBI. He even stole 41 bases in that time frame. The only first basemen with more home runs in those five years were Eddie Murray and Dave Kingman. Unlike those two, though, Cooper rarely struck out with an 8.3% strikeout rate. Ultimately, he played 11 years with the Brewers, but it was that five-year stretch that made him an elite player in franchise history.
Gorman Thomas really struggled in his first four years in Milwaukee from 1973 to 1976. He showed some pop, but didn’t make enough contact to really matter. After an entire year in Triple-A Spokane in 1977 — where he hit 36 home runs in the Pacific Coast League — he returned to Milwaukee and became one of the best power-hitting players in baseball. Between 1978 and 1982 (his last full season with the Brewers), only Mike Schmidt hit more home runs than Thomas’ 175 homers. The South Carolina native led the league in home runs in 1979 and 1982. He hit for a low average and struck out a ton, but drew walks and hit for impressive power. He was the Carlos Pena of the late-70s and early-80s — which certainly caused him to stick out in a league that didn’t have many premier power hitters. Quite simply, Stormin’ Gorman was a three-true-outcomes type of player before that was fashionable.
Right-hander Rollie Fingers only spent four seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, but they were memorable. He came to Milwaukee in 1981 and won both the Cy Young and the MVP, compiling a pristine 1.04 ERA in 78 innings and leading the league with 28 saves. Fingers was one of the premier closers in all of baseball throughout the 70s and 80s — and he simply brought those skills to Milwaukee in the early 80s. He saved 97 games in four years and finished with a 2.54 ERA, which includes an unsightly 5.04 ERA in his final season (when he was 38 years old). Fingers was a two-time All Star with the Brewers and was a large part of the legendary ’81 and ’82 teams. His statistics in Milwaukee would have only improved, too, if he wouldn’t have missed the 1983 season with an arm injury. Fingers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992.
Many people received votes in this ballot, with Jim Gantner and Teddy Higuera narrowly missing the 65% plateau needed for induction. They will be leading candidates for next year’s ballot. On the other side of the coin, Charlie Moore unfortunately did not receive enough votes to remain on the ballot next winter.
Here are the complete voting results:
|Player||% of Vote|
I’ve greatly enjoyed this project thus far, and I hope everyone else is enjoying it as well. I admit that I’ve learned a lot and have found myself researching players I haven’t thought about in years. It’s certainly been an entertaining way to pass by the snow-filled weeks of January and February.
Voting will open for the 1990s ballot either later Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.