LOUISIANA'S 4 HALL OF FAMERS
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In January, the committee that elects legendary hardball players to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., pitched a shutout – no players received enough votes to earn a spot in the baseball shrine’s hallowed halls.
Thanks to the specter of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, a gloomy pall has settled over the national pastime’s recent past, with superstars such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens cast in hardball purgatory because of suspicions of PED use.
But decades before all that mess, when baseball wasn’t dogged by such depressing road bumps as steroids and labor strife and player contracts reaching into eight figures and beyond, there were athletes who competed for love of the game and loyalty to their teams, players whose on-field accomplishments weren’t clouded by controversy, whose exploits did earn them well-deserved spots in the Hall of Fame.
Of course, the existence of rigid segregation practices did, however, mar the first half of baseball history, but even then, the black players who were shut out from the Major Leagues still managed to thrive in the Negro Leagues and were legends made in their own right, legends who, beginning in the early 1970s, received the hard-earned recognition they deserved by finally entering the Baseball Hall.
Now, as it stands today, there are four Louisiana-born players whose plaques hang in the Cooperstown memorial’s hall of legends – Shreveport’s Willard Brown, Bastrop’s Bill Dickey, Vinton’s Ted Lyons and Gretna’s Mel Ott. Although the Pelican State has produced a relatively small amount of hardball Hallers, the ones from Louisiana who have been inducted into the legendary facility certainly earned those accolades.
Coming from all four corners of the state, each member of this superb quartet – all now deceased – has made his own unique mark on baseball history. Here is an alphabetical rundown of these four stellar stars.