I’ve been a bit remiss in keeping up with my interest (OK, perhaps mania) with Mormons in sports. Baseball selected the newest members to the Hall of Fame early this month, and both men and women’s soccer have had their drafts, but I’ve missed them both. So, its time to catch up.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I missed anything in either case. As for Mormons in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jack Morris, known as the best pitcher of the 1980s, came still closer to being inducted, with votes on 67% of the ballots. For fans of perhaps the best known Mormon among former Major League players, Dale Murphy, he received votes on just 14% of ballots — a bit more than he has had recently, but not near his highpoint, and no where near what he needs to make the Hall of Fame.
Will either man eventually be inducted? It is looking significantly less likely. Getting 14% of the vote puts Murphy on the ballot again next year, but that will be his last year of eligibility (unless the veteran’s committee decides to choose him at some point). Morris is less than 10 points short of being inducted and still has two years of eligibility left — which might seem to make it likely. But unlike this year, the writers who vote will be faced with many highly-regarded and well-known new candidates next year and in succeeding years. In 2013 Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa all become eligible, making it hard to see how Morris could be selected. His only hope is for a negative reaction to the steroid use among the players in this class.
But Morris’ final year, while the competition from new candidates remains tough, will also bring another possibility for a new (third) Mormon in the Hall of Fame. In 2014, along with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Kenny Rogers, Frank Thomas, another Mormon player becomes eligible: Jeff Kent.
As for soccer, I noticed that one player from Sandy, Utah, Jacob Hustedt, was drafted by the San José Earthquakes as part of the Major League Soccer draft. But, I can’t find any indication that he is Mormon. And my searches of the players drafted into the MLS and the women’s professional league, WPS, didn’t turn up any other possibilities.
I did find one potential future player. Austin Neil is currently serving an LDS mission after playing for the University of Tulsa Hurricanes for 3 years, where he earned College Soccer News and Soccer America Preseason All-America honors. Assuming he returns to the team after he returns from his mission later this year (and assuming he can quickly get back in shape to play), he may be able to get some interest from MLS teams next year.
As always, I’m very interested in suggestions or reports of other Mormons on the professional level.