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Nationals announce Ring of Honor

Along with recognizing Montreal Expos Hall of Famer Andre Dawson tonight, the Nationals will unveil tribute to players associated with Washington baseball with a Ring of Honor high above the field at Nationals Park behind home plate.

The Nationals worked with the National Baseball Hall of Fame to develop the three criteria to honor players:

1. The player had to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

2. The player had to have played with the Washington Nationals, Washington Senators, Homestead Grays or Montreal Expos.

3. The player had to have played significant years with those teams.

And so, the first group of players -- which does not include Frank Howard -- is right here:

-James "Cool Papa" Bell (outfielder, Homestead Grays)

-Ray Brown (pitcher, Homestead Grays)

-Gary Carter (catcher, Montreal Expos)

-Joe Cronin (shortstop, Washington Senators)

-Andre Dawson (outfielder, Montreal Expos)

-Rick Ferrell (catcher, Washington Senators)

-Josh Gibson (catcher, Homestead Grays)

-Goose Goslin (outfielder, Washngton Senators)

-Clark Griffith (executive, Washington Senators)

-Bucky Harris (manager, Washington Senators)

-Harmon Killebrew (first baseman, Washington Senators)

-Walter Johnson (pitcher, Washington Senators)

-Buck Leonard (first baseman, Homestead Grays)

-Heinie Manush (outfielder, Washington Senators)

-Cumberland Posey (executive, Homestead Grays)

-Sam Rice (outfielder, Washington Senators)

-Jud Wilson (third baseman, Homesteady Grays)

-Early Wynn (pitcher, Washington Senators)

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 10, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
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Rules 2 & 3could have been combined into one:
The player had to have played SIGNIFICANT YEARS with the Washington Nationals, Washington Senators, Homestead Grays or Montreal Expos.

Man, I should've been a PR guy...

Great list there, with the the Big Train headlining...

Posted by: -CN- | August 10, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Only the Lerner's could botch something like this. This team has no idea how to celebrate the rich baseball history in D.C. Pathetic. Nobody cares about Dawson or Carter.

Posted by: mjwies11 | August 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I love the concept but I really wish they would broaden the criteria. would love to see Frank Howard, Eddie Yost, Micky Vernon and Roy Sievers. Also would not object to Frank Robinson or Harmon Killebrew. I guess I could go on and on. What do you guys think?

Posted by: sjm3091 | August 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I'll add that "executives" and "managers" are not players.

It is a shame that Frank Howard is not on that list.

Posted by: summerandwinter | August 10, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Most cities and fans arent fake fans like they are in DC. I lived there for 5 years so I know. I however grew up an Expos fan and Expos fans still do support the Nationals.

Posted by: valade | August 10, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse


I do. Grew up an Expos fan and followed the team to DC. You might not care, but there are a lot of people who do. Thanks for your input though. people just look for stuff to crab about?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | August 10, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Based on the criteria, there appear to be two omissions that were likely considered but ultimately declined:

Cyclone Joe Williams, Harmon Killebrew

I suppose the weight of Killebrew's case turns on the phrase "significant years" with those teams. But I believe that when they honor Cool Papa Bell, it opens the door for Killebrew.

Cool Papa Bell played a season with the Grays for part of a season in 1932 and then resigned with them 1943 and remained with the team through 1946. He had a significantly longer tenure with the St. Louis Stars (10 seasons) and an equal amount of time with the Pittsburgh Crawfords. So the question then becomes, does 5 seasons (4 of them after the age of 40)? The Grays won 3 pennants during that time and Bell was in the running for the batting title in 1946. So, the answer here is probably yes. Keep in mind that his Negro League statistics say that he spent 13.40% of his playing time with the Grays and that was enough for the organization.

Cyclone Joe Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. He played for the Grays from 1922 through 1931 and despite his advancing age, remained one of the top Negro League pitchers during that time. Tens years of service with the Grays would seem to qualify him under the enumerated criteria. However, it could be said (though I don't know if anyone has said it) that the Grays had yet to establish D.C. as their "home away from home" during Williams' time. I don't know whether that would be a factor but based on these criteria, Williams seems like a pretty obvious snub.

Harmon Killebrew is remembered as a Twin and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Twin. But he did play 7 of his 22 professional seasons with the Senators (31.82%) and 390 professional games with the team (16.02%). Killebrew also led the American League in HRs while a Senator and represented the team in the 1959 All-Star game at Forbes Field. So while it's easy to dismiss Killebrew as a Twin, I think it's hard not to argue that he was more of a Senator than Cool Papa Bell was a Gray.

Posted by: Bauschz | August 10, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Why would you put Frank Robinson on that list? For 2 seasons as the Nats manager?

He was a great player, but not in DC.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 10, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse people just look for stuff to crab about?

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | August 10, 2010 4:12 PM

Naugatuck, you've been around here long enough for me to know that was definitely a rhetorical question.

I think this is a good idea. The only question I have is, based on the criteria listed by Adam, how will the Nats add to this list? Will they have to wait for the Hall to select people with a DC/Expos connection to add new names? If so, this will be a one-time event. It would be nice to figure out a way to make legitimate additions to the list on a regular basis.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 10, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"Why would you put Frank Robinson on that list? For 2 seasons as the Nats manager?"

No, because he was the founding manager of the Washington Nationals, and before that he managed the Expos. This is all about not losing the Expos legacy, remember?

"He was a great player, but not in DC."

Same could be said of Early Wynn, who somehow made the cut. 300-244 career, but only 72-87 in DC.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 10, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I feel no connection to the Expos at all. How are they DC?

Nice post, Bauschz.

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I want to preface my remark by saying I really don't care much about this. But if you can honor an executive of the Senators or Grays, why not add Frank Robinson to the list, especially since it will be a long time before any Washington National is added to the Ring? Frank is in the HOF and he was our first manager (and managed the Expos too). And it would be nice to try to heal the rift.

Posted by: Section222 | August 10, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the inclusion of Homestead Grays! Pretty good list, but Killebrew should be on it, in my opinion. I don't think they need to include anybody from that dreadful 10-year second Senators team, 1961-1971 except Frank Howard. That team may be a nice memory of growing up for some people in the area, but it is way too prominent in the presence of the curly W or the name Nationals. The Grays were here longer than those 10 year second Senators, so I just don't understand the prominence that team is getting in DC baseball lore. It's just a ticket sales nod to nostalgia.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | August 10, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I'd have to guess that people like Frank Howard, Mickey Vernon, etc. were not excluded so much as the organization is waiting add them on special "Tribute to ~whomever" games in seasons to come. That might sell some more tickets (and I'm not saying that cynically; I'd love to take my old Senators fan dad to Frank Howard Night.)

Posted by: RightField | August 10, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

So, since "No, because he was the founding manager of the Washington Nationals, and before that he managed the Expos. This is all about not losing the Expos legacy, remember?"

Should we put Jose Vidro in because he was the Expos 2nd baseman and the first Nats 2nd baseman? Oh, he's not in the Hall of Fame. Well, Frank Robinson isn't in the HOF for his managing career.

As far as losing/not losing the Expos legacy, put me in the category of "meh" - I don't feel any connection to the Expos. It's fine if the Nats want to honor Carter and Dawson, just don't expect me to be "connected" to the Expos.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 10, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

This seems unnecessarily limited -- no idea why the Nats would need to consult with the HoF about honoring people in their own stadium.

I wasn't a Senator's fan, but this "ring of honor" is a joke without Frank Howard.

And of course Frank Robinson ought to be there, if for no other reason than to honor his epic stare-down with Jim Wolf:

Posted by: joebleux | August 10, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

No Wayne Comer?

Posted by: lowcountry | August 10, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

no frank howard=stupid

Posted by: arizonacardinalsfan1 | August 10, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

This post figured to generate a lot of response. And it should because it's about the team's identity.

Obviously opinions differ on this. Rather than get on the soap box, I'll just state my preference that the Twins and Rangers leave Senators history in Washington, and the Nationals leave Expos history in Montreal.

Posted by: KenNat | August 10, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

No Shirley Povich? His pal The Big Train wouldn't be pleased.

Granted, Povich wasn't a player, but the scribe is in Cooperstown.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 10, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It made sense for the Twins and Rangers to leave Senator's history in DC, because there figured to be another Washington team along shortly to claim it.

This isn't the case with Montreal. It's not likely that they're going to be getting a team back anytime soon, if ever.

It doesn't hurt for the Nats to have a little class and provide a place for recognizing Expo's players.

I hope Montreal does get a team someday, and if that happens, they can come and reclaim their stuff from the Nat's metaphorical basement.

Posted by: joebleux | August 10, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a good idea. The only question I have is, based on the criteria listed by Adam, how will the Nats add to this list? Will they have to wait for the Hall to select people with a DC/Expos connection to add new names? If so, this will be a one-time event. It would be nice to figure out a way to make legitimate additions to the list on a regular basis.

Posted by: baltova1


That's the key. The HOF requirement leaves out Hondo, which is ridiculous in terms of DC baseball.

And what to do with Pudge? Assuming that he plays out the last few years of his career in DC, and gets his 3,000th hit as a Nat...but he goes into the HOF wearing a different cap...does he go into the Ring or not?

Zimmerman will probably be the first "true" Nat of the new era to go into the 15-20 years. But what about great players who pass through here before then?

Posted by: js_edit | August 10, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Who cares? Junk the park up with the names of a bunch of guys that have not meant much to anyone here in decades, some of them never having meant anything ever to DC? Color me cynical, but this is a cheap attempt to mine and display false, fading or irrelevant history.

How's this for an idea: get some people to perform well for the Nats now, keep them for several years and then enshrine them in some ring of honor and don't water down their recognition by etching their names up along side of guys who never even played in this town.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 10, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Dunn is on pace for a HOF career, with well over 600 HRs potentially. Since Dunn is just 30, you could double his HR total of 346 currently. That's close to 700 = HOF, especially when coupled with his .382 career OBP and an OPS over .900 so far as a career average.

Let's say Dunn has two great years here, and then goes on to play for the White Sox or some other club. Would those two great years in DC be enough to make the Ring of Honor? In reading some of the above discussion, it might. Dunn would certainly have much more of a DC connection than did Carter or Dawson, who had no connection at all.

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I despise the Expo component. Honoring the Expos does no one any good - not the Nationals, not the players, and definitely not Montreal. It's insulting to everyone.

The Hall of Fame requirement is a great idea for retiring numbers, but not a Ring of Honor. If you're not going to include Frank Howard - a guy you built a statue of, by the way - why bother?

Way to go, NatsTown.

Posted by: Tank2 | August 10, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Dunn might well be a Hall of Famer in the Killebrew mode, but at 30 we can't project a doubling of his career homers.

Guys who are clean -- like Schmidt, Rice and Junior -- have a natural decline phase to their careers.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 10, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

This is a very public way for the Nationals to acknowledge a complicated legacy. There's no way the team could have made everyone happy here, but I'm glad they took a stand instead of hiding from the responsibility.

To me, to ignore the team's connection to Montreal is anything from irresponsible to frightening.

Support and heritage do not have to be binary. You can honor both. Longtime Senators fans may not care about the Hawk, just as Expos fans may not care about Hondo. But this is baseball, not politics. It's okay to be a fan of the game and appreciate a franchise history that's as complicated as the modern family.

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 10, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Like I said, opinions differ. Mine is that leaving Expos history in Montreal is the best way to handle this.

Even if Montreal never gets another team, the history is theirs.

Posted by: KenNat | August 10, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse


The doubling might be a stretch, I agree. But what often happens is that players come up during their twenties. So they lose a couple years at the beginning. Dunn had his 1st full year at 22, so he did not lose much off his first half (30 and under) totals by starting at that age, but he lost some. Plus many players ramp up slowly into big-time HR power. Dunn had his 1st 40+ HR year at age 24, when he banged 46 out, so he was a quick starter.

Players do decline in their latter years but they often get all of the decade of the thirties and maybe even a year or two of their 40s to build up their numbers. So they get more years after 30 than before in many cases, which helps the after-30 totals.

Someone should do a study of all HR hitters in the HOF and find what percent of HRs were hit after 30. I just looked at just two, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. Aaron hit 51.5% of his HRs after 30 (defined as 31 and later). Mays hit 52.9% at age 31 and later, even though he had embarrassing years in decline. But there are lots who fell short after 30, especially because of injuries.

What is the percent of HRs hit after 30 for HOF sluggers?

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Drew8: "No Shirley Povich?"

Look up at the broadcast area behind home plate. He has a whole media center named after him.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 10, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

For folks like me, who grew up here and waited 34 years for baseball to return, put Frank Howard on the list.

Posted by: HondoHomers | August 10, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Seriously people, quit your bit&h1ng. Shirley Povich has the Media Center, Frank Howard has a prominent statue in center. Both are also in the DC Sports Hall of Fame. I see tonight as an honorable, polite way of burying the Expos. Giving the new HOFamer Dawson his due from an active club. He deserves the respect for opting to go in with the Expos, akward or not. Carter too - and then you really don't have to broach the topic again.

I think Montreal should be a minor league city again - like it was for a long time with the Royals. Then that team can really be the home of the Expo memories + it could celebrate a very special time when Jackie Robinson was there.

Posted by: Kev29 | August 10, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

It's true that Aaron and Mays hit a majority of their homers after 30.

One thing to keep in mind is their body type. Those immortals were in mortals' frames.

Dunn is eight inches taller and 100 pounds heavier. That kind of physique has not aged as well. Hondo, my boyhood hero, was pretty much done at 35. That makes Dunn's future production harder to estimate, which surely is a factor in the extension issue.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 10, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Rick Farrell??

Posted by: -pj- | August 10, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse


For a different body type, I looked at the Babe.

Ruth hit 405 of his 714 HR at age 31 or later. Of course, he did not have his first big HR year until he was 25.

I'm not sure either of us could say unless we did the research. Taking all HOF players who hit 500 or more HR (sluggers), what percent of their HRs were hit 31 and older? I'm willing to say I don't know. It may be close to double. That would be my guess. I can't say whether it is above 50 percent or below. If you doubled Dunn's numbers (and he still has a long way to go in the 2010 season at age 30) you would get almost 700 HR. So even if he doesn't get double his numbers of HR, he would still end up well into the 600s at the usual HOF pace for sluggers, whatever that is.

By the way, another big body type guy, Frank Howard, had his last big HR year at age 34. Still, he hit 194 of his 382 HR at age 31 and after, or 50.9%.

I have only looked at 4 sluggers (Aaron, Mays, Ruth and Howard) and they were all over 50 percent in their percent of HR hit in ages 31 and later. I would like to see the numbers for all of the HOF hitters, age 31 and after, and age 30 and before. Without the data, it is just a guess.

As an aside, I do think people undervalue Dunn, perhaps even the front office of the Nats and Bill Ladson!

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

No Hondo? How about bringing that white RFK seat over and install it somewhere?

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | August 10, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

What about Youpi? THE WHOLE THING IS RIDICULOUS!!!!! The ring of honor should be for Nationals players only! The exception being Frank Robinson as only Manager allowed. The others should have been enshrined on highlight video boards, so people could actually know who they are. They could use the kind you see at the malls to display adds. Then get Bethesda Softworks, a local video game giant, to design a game where you can play as one of them. No wonder we're the joke of the league.

Posted by: hansenjo | August 10, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

One of Hondo's white RFK home run seats, along with Zimmerman's red RFK homer seat, is already enshrined at Nationals Park - in a glass case in either the Presidents Club or the PNC Diamond Club. I forget which one. I don't frequent those clubs, only saw it during NatsFest a year ago when they let us in there.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 10, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Great post, JiM.

Re. the HR chairs, I believe they're in the PNC Diamond Club (also saw them on a tour). I seem to recall hearing that it was a replica of a Howard white seat, but my memory could be playing tricks there. FWIW, it was a step, not a seat, that they painted red at RFK for the RZ homer, but that would have been a tad bit difficult to transport. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less about this or the Expos. I care more about whether the LernerStanks will actually spend some friggin' money in the offseason on FA's to move this team forward and out of the basement of the NL East.

Posted by: Section505203 | August 11, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Frank Howard: career 382 HR, .273 BA. In DC 237 HR, ~.278 BA. Hall of Fame: 1979 1.4%, did not qualify to remain on ballot. No thanks.

And I totally agree with the popncedeleroy comment above: "That team may be a nice memory of growing up for some people in the area, but it is way too prominent in the presence of the curly W." The Washington heritage we should be following is the original Senators. Block letter W, blue hats.

Posted by: OutsideTheLaw | August 11, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't give a runny crap about the Montreal Expos. I would like to just pretend that the long national nightmare never took place in that there was no baseball in the District. I suppose if you must include Carter and Dawson, have the decency to put up curly w's next to the names.

Posted by: 6thandD | August 13, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

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