Owners, execs and skippers, oh my!

The Hall of Fame's non-player Veterans Committee ballots are out, and both are chock full o' interesting candidates:

    Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Gene Mauch and Danny Murtaugh are among the former managers who will be on the ballot when the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee votes next month.

    Tom Kelly, Davey Johnson, Hank O'Day, Steve O'Neill, Charlie Grimm and Steve O'Neill also are on the 10-man ballot for managers and umpires. The Hall released the names Tuesday.

    The only former ump up for consideration is Doug Harvey.

    A separate ballot for executives and pioneers includes former owners Gene Autry (Angels), Ewing Kauffman (Royals), John Fetzer (Tigers), Jacob Ruppert (Yankees) and Sam Breadon (St. Louis Cardinals) along with former players' association head Marvin Miller.

    Retired National League president Bill White and former general managers Bob Howsam, John McHale and Gabe Paul also will be considered.

Doug Harvey is ridiculously overqualified, by the historical standards of the institution.

Which is just about the only reasonable way to approach these questions. Why did Bowie Kuhn deserve election two years ago? Because every other commissioner with a significant tenure had previously been elected. Why did Walter O'Malley deserve election? Because every similarly influential owner had previously been elected.

Well, most of them anyway. There are a number of owners on the ballot this time around, and I'm sure that a decent case could be made for each of them. What set O'Malley apart, though, is that he pioneered Major League Baseball on the West Coast, and also that he sort of ran the National League for a number of years (if unofficially). Oh, and owning the NL's most successful franchise for decades didn't hurt. None of the current crop's owners can match O'Malley's résumé, though all were significant figures in their own right.

As I've written before, baseball executives have been terribly neglected -- there are only three general managers in the Hall -- and electing Bob Howsam would be a great start to addressing that obvious deficiency.

Regarding the managers, who of course will get most of the ink and elections, if any of them were great candidates they'd already have been elected. I probably would vote for Billy Martin and Danny Murtaugh, though, with Herzog deserving further study. And Mauch, for all his supposed talents, lost more games than he won and never managed in a World Series. It's often been said that Mauch did the best with what he had -- well, maybe not in 1964 -- but I like my managers to work the occasional miracle, and the only miracles I see in Mauch's record involve his team losing.

Postscript: Two years ago, I argued for the elections of (among others) Breadon, Harvey, Howsam, and Ruppert. And I'm now wondering why longtime Dodgers executive Buzzy Bavasi -- who, unlike Howsam, is still around to enjoy such an honor -- isn't on this year's ballot.