By: Holly Horning
For the first time in 43 years, someone who actually played for the Tigers was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cue the fanfare. Drop the balloons. Throw the confetti.
The only problem is that he, Ivan Rodriguez, will be wearing a “T” instead of a “D” on his hat when he is enshrined in Cooperstown. And for many fans, this is a bittersweet moment with feelings of happiness commingling with frustration.
But let’s look on the bright side. It’s been only 25 years since a full-fledged Tiger was voted in, but belatedly, by special committee.
You got a problem with that? I do.
For one of baseball’s oldest organizations, the Tigers have one of the lowest totals of Hall of Fame members wearing the Old English D. Nine players. Count ‘em. It amounts to one player getting inducted every 14 years.
And who knew that Al Kaline would be the last player to enter on a regular ballot for many decades? Especially when the Tigers put together what is considered one of baseball’s 10 best lineups back in 1984. Remind me just how many of these guys got in?
And with the Hall of Fame snub, combined with the infamous MVP one, Alan Trammell is probably hoping the third time is the charm.
So why is this happening? Do other teams just have better stars? Is it just a NY media bias thing?
For the most part, this is a self-inflicted injury perpetuated by the Tigers’ organization upon themselves. Decades of being quiet, leaving it up to other people to make the necessary moves and being stingy with the words and recognition. This was expected behavior back in the 1970’s.
Maybe it’s time for the Tigers to enter the 21st Century and step up to what savvy organizations are now doing – even if they are already a decade and a half+ behind.
A significant number of MLB teams have their own Hall of Fame. The Tigers don’t. And when it comes time to consider Hall of Fame candidates, most teams present binders and videos of their players on the ballot to the voters. The Tigers don’t. Many high-ranking executives make a push for their former players in the media. The Tigers don’t. And the majority of teams retire players numbers without waiting for them to enter the Hall, if at all. The Tigers don’t.
Sense a pattern here?
Over the past month, the Texas Rangers’ President was making the rounds during Hall of Fame voting to push for Pudge. And on his last day playing in Boston, the Red Sox retired David Ortiz’ number.
Just why the heck are the Tigers waiting? Why do they continue to sit on their hands and do nothing – and then wonder (silently, of course) why their players don’t get the recognition they deserve? Don’t they see that this is one of the biggest hot buttons for their fans?
When you aren’t vocal about players’ records or historical relevance, how important they are to the organization or offer any kind of official recognition within your own organization, don’t be surprised when others also gloss over your candidates in lieu of others. Especially when the majority of the voters now aren’t old enough to remember seeing your guy play. If you don’t think enough about your guys to go to bat for them, why should anyone else think they are special and deserving?
And as a branding consultant, I gnash my teeth when I see this. (I also swear but our blog rules prevent me from including them.) Not keeping up with modern times renders you obsolete fast. You fall behind. You become less relevant. And your value falls. Not branding your organization plays havoc with your finances, clients, reputation and sustainability. This is especially important when all teams inevitably take that turn from consistent winning to troubled, rebuilding years.
What I can’t understand is the business end of it. Branding your organization increases your perceived and actual value significantly. It’s one of the best ways to draw new clients (or fans) and increase your bottom line. I simply can’t fathom why an organization refuses to adequately brand themselves so they may increase revenue. For over a decade, the Tigers have consistently had payroll exceed revenue. You’d think they would want to resolve that issue.
I believe we can safely add this lax attitude about branding and refusal to support former players to our list of greatest Tigers mysteries.
How many more fans would come to the ballpark so they could visit the Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame? Maybe even pay an extra admission? To visit the promenade near the outfield to touch the conjoined statues of Tram and Lou turning two?
So much potential. So little attempted. And too few Tigers in the Hall as a result.