By: Jim Tsapelas
Yes, Vada Pinson belongs in the Hall of Fame! This remarkable athlete and man, my hero, is a true Hall of Fame Player. As a sixteen year old, I became quite excited on October 11, 1968. It was on that date I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals traded Wayne Granger, a relief pitcher who had a nine-year MLB career, and Bobby Tolan, an outfielder-first baseman with a thirteen season MLB career, to the Cincinnati Reds for Vada Pinson.
Vada Pinson is one of my boyhood heroes. A left-handed center fielder who hit with power, patrolled the outfield fearlessly, and ran the bases with speed. Vada Pinson who played the game with a demonstrated reputation for strong defense was now a Cardinal.
As a child in the 1950’s, my late father instilled in me an appreciation and a love for the game of baseball. My father came to this country around 1939, from Greece, and lived for a while in the Great State of Ohio.
Back when there were only eight teams in each league, no divisional nor inter-league play, teams in the American and National Leagues played one another in their respective leagues a bit more frequently. Whenever the Cincinnati Reds were in St. Louis, my father and I would attend the games.
For me, the Cardinals playing the Reds was fun. There was a carnival like atmosphere. The Reds had a large group of fans who followed them to St. Louis. This group of fans were known as the Cincinnati Rooters. Somehow, my father and I seemed to always sit near the “Rooters.” The Rooters usually dressed alike and were, generally, a friendly and entertaining bunch.
It was through my father’s appreciation for Cincinnati, that I was exposed to Vada Pinson. Watching Vada Pinson play was magical. I remember, as a child, it seems that whenever Vada Pinson was on the field he was smiling. Or, at least, that is my childhood recollection.
Pinson did not play during the ESPN era, if he had, he would have been a nightly human highlight reel. Sadly, he played prior to the time baseball players in particular, and athletes in general, were compensated, fully, for their talent and performance.
In the summer of 1969, I attended somewhere in the vicinity of forty to fifty Cardinal games. During the summer of 1969, Pinson played right field. Hall of Famer Lou Brock played left. The all too often forgotten Curt Flood played center. Brock, Flood, Pinson, perhaps one of the better-if not the absolute best outfield in baseball. I consider it an honor and a privilege to of had the opportunity to see Vada Pinson play a game that I respect and love.
In 1968, the last year prior to Major League Baseball instituting Divisional Play, the Cardinals won ninety-seven games, winning the National League Pennant, losing the World Series to the Detroit Tigers four games to three. In 1969, the Cardinals finished fourth in the National League East, winning eighty-seven games.
It is my belief and position that Vada Pinson belongs in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Pinson’s career record speaks for itself:
1,170 runs batted in
256 home runs
305 stolen bases
485 career doubles.
268 lifetime batting average
Pinson’s 2,757 hits are more than ninety-seven HOFs. His 485 career doubles are more than ninety-nine HOFs. Vada Pinson’s 1,170 runs batted in-are more than thirty current HOF’s.
Yes, Vada Pinson belongs in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame!
Thanks for reading!