When I heard yesterday that Joe Nuxhall had been hospitalized, I got to thinking about Joe and the Hall. I pondered two questions, one of which is "Well, does he belong?" and the other question being, "Well, how could he get in?"
As far as the second question of how Joe could get in, there's two distinct ways that seem plausible. First, he could be awarded the Ford C. Frick Award - the Broadcaster's Wing of the Hall - and be inducted as a Hall of Fame Honoree, the same award that Marty Brennamen won in 2000 for his role of broadcasting. It is an award that is handed out annually since 1978, and other than the original year of 1978 when Mel Allen and Red Barber won it jointly, there has been one Ford C. Frick Award each year.
Secondly, Joe could be inducted as an actual Hall of Famer as a baseball pioneer for his lifelong contributions to the game (also the same category as an executive). There have been 27 people inducted as an executive or pioneer, and the first inductees occurred way back in 1937. Currently, the format is set up so the Veteran's Committee votes on umpires, executives and pioneers every four years, with the next vote scheduled to occur in 2007 (the current screening list for the 2007 ballot for umpires/executives/pioneers has 60 people on it, and Joe is not among them).
Now as to whether or not Joe truly belongs, that's entirely subjective. As a Reds fan, and knowing Joe's contributions to the Reds, I would wholeheartedly support his induction to the Hall, and of the two ways for him to be inducted, winning the Ford C. Frick Award and going in as a broadcaster would likely be more realistic.
Of course, I'm a Reds fan so I'm heavily biased in the regard of supporting Joe for the Hall, and most other Reds fans likely sit alongside me in that regard. This isn't a situation like individual players where we can scan over a statistical record and aim to be as objective as possible. It's subjective and emotional; we know what Joe means to us, and scores of Reds fans have loved Joe for several decades.
Does he belong in Cooperstown in our minds? You bet. Does he belong when comparing him to other pioneers associated with other organizations? That's an extremely difficult question to answer, and possibly impossible to answer, since it's a much, much larger issue. Certainly in my mind, Joe Nuxhall in the Hall of Fame would raise the standards of the Hall collectively, but that's just my biased take as a lifelong Reds fan.
All that said, I do know one thing for certain: Joe's a Reds icon who has been a part of Reds baseball for roughly six decades, and except for brief periods during his player career when he struggled in a Reds uniform, he's been immortalized in our hearts. When you can accomplish what Joe's accomplished, you're certainly doing something right.
Get well soon, Joe, we can't wait to hear you back again on WLW.