Hall of Pretty Good Candidate Sid Gordon

Baseball’s Hall of Fame is designed to recognize the game’s best players. All-time greats are present, such as Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. Top players of various generations appear, giving fans a chance to review the careers of the likes of Ken Griffey, Jr., Derek Jeter, and Willie Stargell. There’s even what I believe to be a humor section that includes Bud Selig.

Omission from the Hall does not imply a player isn’t good. In many cases a player established a reputation for performance that simply did not play out across a long enough timeline to warrant inclusion. Other times players are steady contributors who consistently help their team win while not quite dominating the competition themselves. These kinds of players dominate what I often refer to as the “Hall of Pretty Good.”

Sid Gordon is not in the Hall of Fame but deserves consideration for the Hall of Pretty Good. His career was shortened due to military service and his underlying stats don’t quite meet expectations for inclusion with the game’s all-time greats. However, he was cheered like one when his baseball cards appeared in the ’52 Topps set. That year marked the culmination of a five year stretch in which he outhit almost every other position player. His 137 home runs in 1948-1952 were just one shy of Gil Hodges and ahead of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Duke Snider. For three years he managed to homer in every single ballpark in which he played. Advanced metrics such as wOBA show he was one of the hardest hitting non-HOF batters appearing on cardboard at the time. If one were to construct a team of non-HOF members appearing in the ’52 set, Gordon would likely be batting towards the middle of the lineup.

1952 Topps Sid Gordon #267. This example has sharp corners but was unfortunately part of a scrap book at some point. Not a lot of cards have this many trees shown in the background of a photo.
Above: The photo from Gordon’s 1952 Topps card appeared two years earlier on his 1950 Drake’s Cookies issue.