There are only ten third
basemen in the baseball Hall of Fame, by far the least of any position.
There are guys in there like Fred Lindstrom and Pie Traynor and George
Kell, and well-known greats like Frank "Home Run" Baker, Brooks
Robinson, Eddie Matthews, George Brett, and Mike Schmidt. Graig Nettles is
clearly in the company of the players there. I'm sorry but who'd you
rather have on your team -- Fred "Who?" Lindstrom or Graig
Nettles? Like Brooks Robinson, Nettles was one of the great defensive
third basemen of all time. Incredibly, he only won two gold gloves (the
same amount that Wade Boggs won as a Yankee) -- they used to give it to
Buddy Bell every year in the late seventies and early eighties even though
Nettles was at least his equal. Like Robinson, Nettles won a World Series
with his defense, although to much less fanfare. Robinson became a
household name in 1970 for his defensive heroics in the World Series.
Nettles' heroics came in 1978, when he speared line drive after line drive
with acrobatic, ballet dives to his left, or behind him to his right down
the third base line, and then would come the perfect lob throw to first to
always just nab the runner.
always felt that Nettles could gun the ball to first to beat any
runner by a mile, but was so good he'd toy with everyone -- runners,
fans, and George Steinbrenner alike -- in casually launching his
semi-arc to first, perfectly timed to just beat the runner by a
stride, every time.
At the plate, Nettles had
league leading power -- he led the league once in homers (32 in '76) and
just missed once (37 in '77), and perennially was amongst the top 5 to 7
in the league in homers, even though that number was generally in the
twenties. His average was usually around .250. Now before you dismiss
those numbers, remember that the ball was dead -- D E A D -- dead in the
seventies. It was so dead, they invented the designated hitter. It was so
dead, they seriously thought about introducing orange baseballs at night
games so the hitters could see the ball. So Nettles' .250 would probably
be a .280 average today. And his 20-something homeruns would be
40-something every year today. And if he did that, how many career home
runs would he have hit? As it was, he approached 400, finishing with 390.
That's a lot of homeruns for a player who played in the dead-ball 70's.
There are only two third basemen in history who finished with more
homeruns than Nettles -- Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews. Nettles holds
the American League record for homeruns by a third baseman (319)! He's also
currently 24th all-time in games played with 2700. Think about that -- of
all the players to ever play major league baseball, only 23 have played
more games than Nettles -- and he played most of them at freakin' third
base, the hot corner, playing great defense there to boot.
once hit a homerun (or maybe it was two doubles) for a kid in the
hospital. The stupid announcer said that the kid was dieing. The kid was
watching/listening to the game on TV/radio and it was news to him
that he was dieing. The mom said it turned out to be a bad night.
The good news is the kid didn't die. -- submitted by John Letizia
uniform number was #1 during much of his first stay with the
Yankees. When he was traded back to them in the late seventies, he
took #2 because Billy Martin had #1 at that point.
What About Bobby Murcer?
brings us to Bobby Murcer... if Graig Nettles belongs in the hall of
fame, as I've surely proven, what do you do with Bobby Murcer?
Murcer was the star of the Yankees throughout the early seventies --
not Nettles. Murcer was the straw that stirred the Yankees'
fourth-place drink; Munson was number 2 star, and Nettles was number
3. Murcer was the next Mickey Mantle, the hope of the future for a
baseball franchise that was mired in mediocrity and was being
mismanaged by middle management at CBS. None other then Ted Williams
described Murcer in 1972 as baseball's best chance for a triple
crown (leading the league in homers, rbis, and average).
People talk about Bernie
Williams as the consummate star these days; the current-day DiMaggio,
combining centerfield defense with hitting for average with hitting for
power. I don't deny that -- remember, DiMaggio played in the lively-ball
30's and 40's, so Williams lively-ball-90's statistics compare well to
DiMaggio's. Williams won the batting title in 1998, hitting .334 with
26 homers and 96 RBI, his best overall season until this year. Ironically,
those were almost identical numbers to Murcer's 1971 campaign, when he hit .331
with 25 homers and 94 RBI. But those were the dead-ball 70's remember.
Murcer nearly led the league in all categories, sparking Ted Williams'
comments. Those numbers projected in today's
lively- ball era might equate to like 45-50 homers and 140 RBI and a .355
batting average. Do you think a Yankee centerfielder putting up those numbers
today would be the talk of baseball?
Murcer has been quoted as
saying if he hadn't been traded by the Yankees, and played his whole
career at Yankee Stadium, he would have made the Hall of Fame. Sounds
insane, but you know what, he's not far off, especially if he didn't play
ball in the dead-ball '70's. Still, those are big 'ifs'. Murcer was
traded, a bunch of times. He didn't play in the '90's. He finished
with 252 homers and a .277 lifetime average. Tough luck Bobby.
Why Tony Perez?
So now Tony Perez has been
inducted into the Hall of Fame. This galls me. Why Tony Perez? Was
Perez better than Murcer? No. Was he better than Nettles? No way. And yet
Nettles never comes close to getting one tenth the votes necessary for
induction. What gives? Tony Perez was a nice first basemen. No
defensive responsibilities there. His job was to hit. He hit 379 homeruns
to Nettles' 390. Perez was mostly known as a big RBI man. He drove in
1,652 RBI on the big Red machine; Nettles 1,314. Perez hit .279; Nettles
.248. But Nettles played third, an important defensive position, and
played it with style. No contest.
Hey, you want to know who the
Yankees recently named as greatest all time third baseman in the history
of their illustrious team? Graig Nettles. 'Nough said.
Update: As of July 27, 2014 --
Graig Nettles STILL holds the American League record for home runs by a
3rd baseman -- 319.
Tell Us What You Think: If
you'd like to respond to this article,
The Readers Respond
Wow, came across this blog by chance and it meant a
great deal to me. I loved both Murcer and Nettles. I cried when my father
told me Murcer got traded and Nettles is my all time favorite Yankee.
Growing up in the 1970s was filled with both these guys. I have always
hoped Nettles would get into the Hall.
-- William Krebs
Valhalla, NY, USA
Did you know that Graig Nettles is going to be the
guest retired Yankee at the Mickey Mantle Classic in April (2012) which is
held behind the high school Mickey went to in Commerce, OK? The Classic is
a baseball tournament of high school teams where they use only wood bats.
The bats come from Hoosier Bat Company in Valparaiso, Indiana. Many major
league players have used the Hoosier wooden bats. Like Sammy Sosa in his
home-run race against McGuire. Sammy hit #62-63 and 64 with it as I
Graig will be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs
plus he will be at the awards banquet on Saturday night. I know I will be
going and you should check out the Classic on the Mickey Mantle Classic
-- Lance Burris
I loved this article! I thought Bobby Murcer was a
class act as a player and a broadcaster! I have met many Yankees and ball
players but I never met Bobby Murcer in person. I wish I would have met
him! :( It was very sad to see him pass so young.
-- Jerry Grimes
I have been on this crusade for years . If you think
about some of the guys that got in , and some rather easily like Ozzie
Smith it can make you sick. Smith got in for his defense . Nettles is one
of the greatest of all time fielding his position but put up superior
stats to some of the guys already in. He belongs in and we need to do
something about it. Nettles HOF ! What do we need to do to help ?
-- Mark Willey
I loved your site. I grew up a Yankees fan in Virginia and loved Murcer
and Nettles. Nettles clearly belongs in the Hall
of Fame. I think his antics involving reporters over the years
resulted in him not getting votes for the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, the veterans
committee will correct
-- Woody Anderson
As a kid growing up in central NJ I wore # 9 for one
reason and one reason only: Graig Nettles. I idolized the man; the way he
played the hot corner and handled pitchers was a thing of beauty; he was a
magnet at the bag -- nothing got by him. So I wore # 9 and played 3rd base
all through high school & my men's league. He should be in the Hall of
Fame as much as anyone; case closed.
Graig is my favorite player of all time. He should be
in the Hall of Fame without a doubt, and his number is not retired by the
Yankees but for Roger Maris when it should be for both.
I like the article, and I really appreciated Greg
Nettles! Man he played on the dream team with Reggie Jackson! To me
regardless that was the best Yankee team ever! Yes, put Greg in the Hall
of Fame -- Please do!!!!!
-- Monte Petersen
Greenwich, CT USA
Bobby Murcer was the reason I loved baseball so much. I
lived in DC, but would visit Yankee Stadium with my grandfather (who lived
in Manhattan). And in the early 70's, when I was between 10-14, nobody was
better than Bobby Murcer.
And I remember being so annoyed when he barely lost out
to Tony Oliva for the batting title.
-- Andrew Kennedy
Washington DC, USA
I understand your feelings about Graig Nettles and I
think a better argument can be made that he is better than Bill Mazerowski
who is in the Hall. Don't get me wrong, we loved Bobby Murcer (my wife's
favorite player ever) and think he was not only an outstanding ball player
but a terrific human being. However, Bobby doesn't merit consideration
for the Hall of Fame and was not better than Tony Perez. Don Mattingly's
#s are very much similar to Kirby Puckett's and he and Thurman deserve
Chuck and Randi McGivney
My name is Charles P. Nettles and I can remember my dad
telling me when I was a kid that we had a cousin that played M.L.B. I
asked him 'well, who is he' and my dad said Graig Nettles. I might have
responded something like 'well I would like to meet him at a family
reunion'. My dad said that he didn't know where he was. Graig looks like
one of my grandfather's brothers. I would like to find out
what side of the Nettles he is from? My dad was a vet in St.Tammany Parish
for 28 years and was born in McComb, Ms. and his uncles where from Auburn,
Ms. and Summit, Ms. plus all over the state of Mississippi. If you know
who John "Webb" Nettles is or Dr. C.P. Nettles D.V.M. please email me [see
editor's note]. I would like to hear from you so if you are not too busy
please drop me a line or two.
-- Charles Nettles
Editor's Note: We have published this letter so that,
in the event Graig
Nettles reads it, he can get in contact with Charles. We do not post
email addresses on this board, but if Graig Nettles would like to contact
Charles, we will facilitate through the Contact Us form.
BOBBY MURCER -- A BALLPLAYER'S BALLPLAYER.
-- Kenny Naughton
Northport, New York
NICE WORDS ABOUT MURCER, A CLASS GUY.
-- LARRY G./ L.B., N.Y.
Great article. I came across your website after
Googling "Nettles hall of fame." I was talking about this at work
yesterday. Nettles absolutely deserves to be there. Why is defense
always overlooked? It bothers me that Reggie Jackson, a one-dimensional
player, was a shoe-in and Nettles always gets overlooked. (Jackson was
a great HR hitter, but was a defensive liability.) Ask any player or
coach from the 70's Yankees who they would rather have on their team
(Nettles and Jackson), I bet 100% would pick Graig.
Bobby Ray Murcer -- RIP
You made me realize I had a heart when I was 4 --
What a crush I had on you -- Dad had me watching the Yankees since I can
barely remember -- You were the reason I kept watching -- Your record
speaks for itself -- So whether they decide to put you in their Hall of
Fame or not -- You will be in the Hall of Hearts for thousands to
cherish -- Thank you Bobby Ray Murcer for filling my life with true All
American Ideals. My deepest repects for your families loss and finally.
At the All Stars? THEY SHOULD HAVE SPENT MORE TIME
DEVOTED TO YOUR MEMORY THEN THEY DID.
There, enough said
A female fan since 1969
-- Tami Palladino
I ran across your site while looking for Bobby Murcer
info. Great site! Enjoyed "Willie" and being on the fence!
I specially enjoyed the Oldsmobile article as the
marquee has many fond memories for me. The first car I drove was a '48
Olds convert with three on the tree. I took my driver's test with a '56
and the first car I ever got it on with a fem was in (ample interior
room) an Olds.
Oh yeah....the Bobby Murcer and Graig Nettles stuff
was good too. Remember when he cut his hand doing some gardening? Martin
(?) told him he made enough to hire a landscaper!
Longwood, FL (lifelong NYer)
I grew up a Graig Nettles fan. To me there was no one
better. He was a hard ass. Tough for fans to get to. Even myself as a
fan of 10 years old. I finally got him to sign my copy of Balls just 3
years ago. I was so happy I could not even speak to him. My greatest
Yankee ever. I am now 40. What a glove.
-- Tim Brown
Clicked on BobbyMurcer.com to see how he is
doing; your site came up..
Anyone who watched the Yankees knows Murcer and Nettles should be
in the Hall of Fame!!!!!! Bless both of them as they blessed us as Yanks!!!!
-- J George
There are more Murcer fans than people realize. He was my boyhood hero, and off
the field, a class act.
After The Mick limped off into the sunset in March of '69, Bobby Ray
became my ( and my buddy Chuck's) center of affection on River Ave. The Yanks
couldn't draw flies in the early 70's, but we were there 35-50 games a year as teenagers.
In those days, players were still accessible and still working class
heroes. I hung out many a time after another Yankee loss watching Rusty Torres drive out of the players lot in has jacked up Plymouth or "Rocky"
Swoboda tool away in his beat up white VW Beetle.
Yet it was Murcer, although an All-Star and true star nationally, who always had time to
talk to us and give out an autograph (not for E-Bay purposes, but as a prized FAN possession). I was there against the Rangers when he hit for
the cycle the first game of a doubleheader, and a single and a homer in the nightcap, and when he hit 3 homers against KC. I witnessed him swing
and miss pitifully against his nemisis, lefty Norm Angelini. When I was given a game-used bat in '74 (complete with pinetar) he graciously
signed it and is my most prized Yankee artifact. At this moment waiting for news on his neurosurgery, we can only hope that Bobby has a full
recovery allowing us to continue to acknowledge his genuine humanity as a
person, not secondary to the wonderful memories he has provided to millions of Yankee fans over the decades.
-- David Zimmerman
great new music, stuff you might not necessarily hear on commercial
radio, because of the sad state of the music industry today.