That is if you didn’t vote for Jim Konstanty.
Look, when one thinks of the greatest players in franchise history Konstanty’s name isn’t too high on the list. In fact, Konstanty doesn’t show up on too many of the team’s all-time leaders lists and after seven largely mediocre seasons, he was released by the Phillies and signed by the Yankees and only saved more than nine games in a season twice.
But I have this foolish notion that players should be rewarded for historically great seasons. For instance, the 1961 season should be enough to send Roger Maris to Cooperstown. It’s probably not a popular sentiment, but at the very least they ought to come up with a special wing of the Hall of Fame for anomalies like Maris in ’61 or Don Mattingly from 1984 to 1986.
Dialing that down, Jim Konstanty very well might have been the most important player on the 1950 National League champions and he gets a vote simply for that one year. During that year, as a relief pitcher, Konstanty appeared in a then Major League-record 74 games and was National League's MVP. When the Phillies got to their first World Series since 1915, Konstanty took the ball and started Game 1for his first start in approximately four seasons.
Ultimately Konstanty only won 51 games and saved 54 in 6½ seasons for the Phillies, but he was one of the pioneers in the game as a true relief specialist, yet was also versatile and strong enough to pile up more than a 100 innings.
Don't tell me the Phillies wouldn't like to have a relief pitcher to toss 70 or so innings this season.
Oh, but that wasn’t the best part about Konstanty in 1950. With pitching ace Robin Roberts spent from pitching 10 innings in the National League clincher in Brooklyn on the final day of the season, the Phillies needed a pitcher to step up in Game 1 of the World Series at Shibe Park.
You know, why not throw a guy out there who hadn’t started a game in nearly five years out there in the biggest game of the year? And why not expect him to allow just one run and four hits through eight innings?
Imagine if Charlie Manuel sent Brad Lidge to the mound for Game 1 of the World Series. All we see is the box score and the stats from the 1950 season without the context. At least that’s the way I always looked at it until Robin Roberts talked about the 1950 World Series before the start of the 2009 series. Of all the Phillies’ legends and Hall of Famers, Roberts is the least crazy. He also has a sharp memory and tells fantastic stories along with the uncanny ability to throw 300 innings for six seasons in a row while getting complete games in more than half of his starts for 19 seasons.
So when Robin Roberts talks about pitching, it’s a good idea to shut up and listen.
“The Konstanty thing was a miracle,” Roberts said about the league’s top reliever making his starting debut in Game 1 of the 1950 World Series. “(Manager) Eddie Sawyer gave him the ball and he went out there like he was doing it his whole life. … That really was a miracle. If he would have won that would have been something they talked about forever, but because he lost people kind of forgot about it.”
It’s funny how that works, huh? Maybe if Konstanty had won that Game 1 he very well might have been enshrined on that brick wall in Ashburn Alley already.
So, yes, Konstanty would get a vote from me. So too would Darren Daulton and Gene Mauch.
I don't think I have to get too into why Daulton should be enshrined. Simply, he may have been one of the most important players—for his time—the franchise ever had. Importance of a player, of course, belies simple things such as numbers on a stat page and in that regard Daulton is both simple and complex. He led the league in both RBIs and knee operations... then moved to the outfield after two decades of squatting.
Better yet, he was the straw that stirred the drink in '93. Go ahead... ask anybody.
Mauch, on the other hand, was regarded as one of the best baseball minds as well as the most star-crossed, perhaps ever. He has managed more seasons without reaching the World Series than anyone else in the history of the game. Worse, Mauch had come so excruciatingly close to getting there so many times only to fall through a trap door.
There was 1964, which people around here remember, but then in 1982 he guided the California Angels to 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series only to drop the final three games to the Milwaukee Brewers. That was the first time such a dubious feat had ever happened.
In 1986, Mauch's Angels were one pitch away from beating the Boston Red Sox in five games of the best-of-seven ALCS and marching on to face the Mets in the World Series before Donnie Moore served up the famous home run to Dave Henderson. The Red Sox went on to win Game 5 and then games 6 and 7 to further extend Mauch's curse.
Yet for the Phillies, Mauch turned a laughingstock into a contender by winning 646 games in a little more than eight seasons. From 1962 to 1967, Mauch's Phillies finished .500 or better in every season, which was a rarity for the franchise.
After 26 seasons as a big-league manager and 1,902 wins, Mauch’s longest tenure was spent in Philadelphia. No one managed more games or won more games for the Phillies than Mauch and, bygolly, that ought to count for a plaque on a wall at Citizens Bank Park.