Should Albert Belle Be in Baseball’s Hall of Fame?
Albert Belle is a Shreveport guy. He was a Huntington High School standout. He was a career menace in the batter's box. Pitchers feared facing Belle in make-or-break situations. But, sadly, Belle was a menace off the field, too. He wasn't very popular with the Baseball Writers' Association. In fact, here is what journalist Bill Madden had to say about Belle following his retirement in 2001:
Sorry, there'll be no words of sympathy here for Albert Belle. He was a surly jerk before he got hurt and now he's a hurt surly jerk....He was no credit to the game. Belle's boorish behavior should be remembered by every member of the Baseball Writers' Association when it comes time to consider him for the Hall of Fame.
Basically, what Madden was saying is the writers would NEVER allow Belle to enter the Hall of Fame. And, they succeeded in that. In his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility (2006), he garnered only 7.7% of the baseball writers' votes, missing election by an extremely wide margin. But his vote total was high enough to keep his name on the ballot for the following year. In 2007, however, he garnered only 19 votes (3.5%).
Sadly, if you look at Albert's accomplishments and stats, he totally should have been in the Hall of Fame. He's a 5x All-Star. A 5x Silver Slugger award winner. He lead the American League in home runs in 1995. And, he was a 3x League RBI leader.
Beyond that, Belle was the first player in Major League history to break the 10-million-dollar per year compensation contract. He is the only player to ever hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in a season. Belle is one of only six players in MLB history to have nine consecutive 100-RBI seasons.
I mean his accomplishments are beyond impressive. If what outlined for you above is not enough, here is his career stat line: .295 Batting Average, 381 Home Runs, 1,239 RBIs, 88 Stolen Bases.
He certainly played the game with a mean streak. He hated the Indians for getting rid of him. He hated baseball writers for asking stupid questions. He hated opposing pitchers who thought they could get him out. He hated everyone and everything, and he took out every ounce of that frustration on a little white baseball.
There have been other pain-in-the-butt players that got into the Hall of Fame. But, for whatever reasons, their attitudes didn't keep them out. Sadly though, the writing community flexed their muscles to keep Belle out.
He should have been in. But, we here in Shreveport should do what the National Baseball Community didn't and that's celebrate Albert Joey Belle for being the phenomenal athlete and dominating player he was.