The line is very clear on the Baseball Hall of Fame website.
5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the players record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
We often forget that getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame is more than just about statistics. Sure, a player has to have great numbers. We live in a statistical world, and so much in sports is based on that and that alone.
But to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, according to its own criteria, a player should have more than just great stats.
This line is under scrutiny with more players who were linked to steroids now up for selection. Players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa definitely have the stats, but the other words in the criteria outlined by the Hall of Fame make their candidacy tricky.
If, in fact, they used steroids, how can they go into the Hall? That would be a knock on their integrity, sportsmanship and character.
But if the writers who vote for the Hall of Fame are going to keep those types of players out for those reasons, they must also consider voting for the type of player who had very good stats and was exemplary in the other areas.
There is no one more worthy of consideration for the Hall than former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy.
His stats are very good. Yes, his career was basically over when he was 35. Thats how old Murphy was in his final full season in the big leagues. He had injuries curtail a career that could have easily had even better numbers if he had been able to play near his 40th birthday.
Murphy was one of the games best players in the 1980s. He led the majors in total bases, was first in home runs and RBI among all outfielders and was second overall in home runs (308) and runs scored. Murphy won two straight MVP awards (1982 and 1983), appeared in seven All-Star games, won five Gold Glove awards and won four Silver Slugger awards.
But when it comes to integrity, sportsmanship and character, you wont find anyone better than Murphy who wore a Major League Baseball uniform who best displayed those three aspects which defines a Hall of Famer.
Murphy is in his final year of eligibility for the Hall. He has been passed over 14 years by the writers. If he fails to get in this year, he can go in if the Veterans Committee selects him -- and thats very probable if the writers still pass on him this winter.
There is an aggressive movement underway to educate voters on Murphys overall qualifications for the Hall of Fame and to remind them of how the Hall defines who should get in. Some are probably stuck on the fact that Murphy only had 398 home runs, and it is obvious stats mean a lot to voters who are trying to select baseballs best players of all-time.
Chad Murphy, Dale Murphys 31-year-old son, has led the charge by writing each voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He passionately made the case for his dad in a heartfelt, four-page letter that outlined both the statistical and additional reasons Murphy should be in Cooperstown.
It was a tremendous gesture, and whether Dale Murphy ever makes the Hall of Fame or not, hes a very rich man to have his son do something so sincere on his behalf. But heres the thing -- Chad Murphy is not just doing it because Dale Murphy is his father. He did it because hes 100 percent right.
Its the Hall of Fame that has defined a Hall of Famer should be based on more than just statistics. The Hall says integrity, sportsmanship and character count. Sure, were not going to be very objective around these parts, since we saw Murphy on and off the field for so many years. But how can a voter look at all of Murphys qualifications and not vote for him?
If writers decide to not vote for Clemens or Bonds, they then must vote for Murphy. They contradict the reasoning for not voting for the players who are linked to steroids if they pass on a player who, as defined by the Hall of Fame, is exactly the type of player they are looking for.
If Dale Murphy is not a Hall of Famer, who is?
Listen to The Bill Shanks Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.