It seemed, for a while, that the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was inducting players who were true legends of the game. Then, Pat Burrell's eligibility came up, and it became clear that no players had been truly deserving of the honor until now.
Most players listed on the Hall of Fame's 2017 eligibility page have several lines worth of accomplishments to explain their presence. Burrell got two, with the Hall presuming that the rest of his life's accomplishments will speak for themselves.
He's also listed first, which many would argue is due to "alphabetical order," a fallacy we can all laugh at dismissively. Burrell easily secured a place on the Phillies' own Wall of Fame over Alumni Weekend this past July. Just look at how Burrell's fame and success caused waves of joy to wash over him and his loved ones after his induction was announced.
"I figured over the next four or five months, ex-teammates, friends, neighbors, and so on would call and be happy that I was coming back and congratulations. Actually, none of that happened. Ironically, the only people that were happy to see me back were the local bartenders around town."
Yes, he is a man loved and appreciated throughout the game, whose exploits are legend. He is one of the only players to ever yell at Roy Halladay in anger, and even Halladay respected him enough to not vaporize him into a pile of ash.
The day of his Wall of Fame induction, Burrell's love of Chase Utley came through as he got the crowd to applaud his former teammate, and when the cameras found Utley, he was forced to use one of the ten smiles he is permitted to show in his life (the ten-smile limit is a self-imposed exercise in emotional discipline). There are not many players who have been deemed worthy of an emotional response from Chase Utley. Pat Burrell is one.
"All right Chase you can do this, all eyes on you, just smile, it's fine, just do it like a human would do it, c'mon" pic.twitter.com/zPq3CAxUpc— Justin Klugh (@justin_klugh) August 1, 2015
Like most people touched by Pat Burrell, the game he played for years might never recover from his effects. As insightful and intelligent as the BBWAA that determines who gets into the Hall of Fame is known to be, they surely won't overlook this World Series champion when he becomes eligible to join the ranks of the game's elite.
What's the over/under on Pat Burrell votes? One? I'll still take the under. But ya never know https://t.co/HWXUEX0IVu— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 7, 2016