Back in 2010, the Pioneer Press wrote a little blurb about how Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly was finally being voted on to join the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Not only that, but the feeling at the time was that it was a matter of when and not if Kelly would reach baseball immortaluity. Over a decade since first appearing on the Veteran's Commitee ballot, Kelly continues to wait for the phone call every player and manager hope to one day get.
It's starting to look like more emphasis needs to be placed on if Kelly gets in.
MLB released the finalists for this year's Era Committee -- the latest in the sport's ever evolving rotation of Hall of Fame committees -- and Kelly's name isn't on the list. Contemporaries such as Jim Leyland, Cito Gaston, and Lou Piniella all made the cut and could get voted into Cooperstown in December.
Not having Kelly's name on that list, especially one with so many of his colleagues, continues to be an absolute travesty.
Tom Kelly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame
Kelly is only one of 66 managers in baseball history to reach 1,000 wins and ranks only 18 spots behind Leyland on that list. Something that should be working in his favor but seems to have been tossed aside is the fact that Kelly managed two World Series winners -- teams that he helped build and then help fulfill a promise on.
Only 23 managers have ever won multiple World Series titles, with Cito Gaston being among them as well. Tommy Lasorda and Dick Williams both won two World Series during their careers and both are in the Hall of Fame.
Leyland, Gaston, and Pinella all feel like obvious Hall of Famers, but if they get in then the case for Kelly must be revisited.
Trying to figure out how the Hall of Fame committees vote is a fickle thing. Subjectivity plays such a crucial role that it's hard to say there's a scientific method to determining with fairness who gets in. One thing that might be working against Kelly is the optics of his .478 winning percentage, which ranks fifth-worst among managers with 1,000 or more wins.
It's not impossible to get into Cooperstown with a losing record as a manger, though, as Frank Robinson has a lower winning percentage than Kelly but got elected -- although his overall career in the game was more impactful.
A closer comparison would be guys like Connie Mack (.486) and Bucky Harris (.493), which seems wild to say out loud until you consider the similar context. Mack is arguably a Mt. Rushmore figure in the history of baseball, that's not the comparison to make here. Both Mack and Harris won multiple World Series and did so by building their team -- just like Kelly.
When Kelly took over the Twins in 1987, he was managing a team he had helped construct through his work in Minnesota's minor league system. That team Kelly built won two World Series titles in five years and it could be argued he helped put in place the foundation of the farm system that continues to produce impactful young talent to this day.
Those 2000s Twins teams were Tom Kelly teams through and through, having come up in the system during the 90s and being managed by him for a few seasons. Had he not resigned in 2001, he might have solidified his Hall of Fame case by managing the team back to greatness -- something he still deserves credit for despite stepping aside.
Kelly is so absolutely crucial and pivotal in the story of the Minnesota Twins that his consideration for Cooperstown should be obvious. There's a fairness to comparing statistics but a voting process so obviously slanted toward subjectivity should have already recognized the importance Kelly had on the game.
It's shocking, and downright disrespectful, that the only way Tom Kelly can get into the Baseball Hall of Fame is with a ticket and not a bust.