That 6 PM Phone Cooperstown Call: The Hall of Fame Wait

COOPERSTOWN, NYBilly Wagner treated his ninth year on the Hall of Fame ballot like any other day. There was no way he was going to stay home and wait for that 6 p.m. phone call, which would inform him if he’s in the Class of 2024.

Wagner took his fungo bat and headed to the field where the team he coaches held practice. Most of the players at Miller School of Albermarle in Virginia didn’t have a clue on what the day could have meant for Wagner. He chose to be with his players rather than hold a get- together at his home while waiting for that 6 p.m. phone call. Wagner let it be known that if the phone doesn’t ring it could be embarrassing.

I personally knew what Wagner meant, as I was at a get-together on January 6, 2010 while Roberto Alomar waited for that 6PM. phone call. When I showed up to Robbie’s home in Malba, Queens, a truck with a big satellite was parked outside. The truck had the MLB Network logo on its side, and the sight of that vehicle got my adrenaline flowing. I just knew something special was soon going to happen.

Inside the house, Robbie had the best food spread possible, as he waited for his invited guests to share this supposedly special day. Everyone made their way to Robbie’s house and some even brought their own friends. Before you knew it there was at least two dozen guests munching away and posing for pictures with the guest of honor.

The lifetime .300 hitter and bearer of 10 Gold Gloves (the most ever by a 2nd baseman). Robbie took it all in stride, as he nervously awaited that 6 PM. phone call. The crew from the MLB Network took over the living room as they rearranged the furniture, while setting up the lights and cameras for the potential live feed. Robbie was as patient as one can be as the crew would have him sit on the couch numerous times, so they could get the perfect angle of the next HOF’er.

The only reporter in Robbie’s home was Newsday’s Ken Davidoff. He jotted down notes as the clock was ticking towards that phone call.

It was getting closer and closer and with that the room was getting quieter and quieter. Robbie’s lifelong friend Ray Negron started emulating farting sounds as he looked towards my direction. His line of, “Damn Aris, are you okay?” had everyone laughing as the silence was broken. Robbie chimed in, “It must’ve been the spicy food,” as more laughter followed.

It was now 5:55 pm and you could feel the tension in the air. With one minute to go Robbie’s home turned into the school for the deaf. It was 6 pm. and no phone call yet. We all thought that everyone’s watch was a little off. By 6:02 it was a wrap. The MLB Network crew started to dismantle the set. They took Robbie’s mic off without saying a word. The tense home suddenly turned cold. The visitors started dispersing. Others were teary eyed as Robbie was comforting them.

Aristostle “Mugsy” Sakellaridis

The look of disappointment was in Robbie’s face, as he missed out by at least two votes. One needs 75% of the votes, Robbie’s tally was 73.7% “We’ll get ‘em next year,” was all Robbie could say.

The next day’s newspapers centered on Robbie’s snub instead of Andre Dawson’s election. Davidoff even wrote about the feigned fart incident.

One year later Roberto Alomar got 523 out of a possible 581 votes for 90%. He is enshrined in Cooperstown, while Wagner waits. In his ninth season on the ballot Wagner got 73.8% to miss being inducted by five votes. Next year will be Wagner’s last year on the ballot.

Save yourself the agony Billy, keep living your life.

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About Aristotle "Mugsy" Sakellaridis 113 Articles
Aristotle "Mugsy" Sakellaridis is the junkiest of baseball junkies. He plays in 4 leagues, well past his 40th birthday, and spends the winter in Florida shagging flies at Yankees minor league complexes. He's also a retired Riker's Island Corrrection Officer - having worked the night shift for 20+ years.