Cheap Seats

On this date in Cardinals history: Jan. 4, 1942

Sometimes being great just isn't enough. Rogers Hornsby's gruff personality nearly came back to bite him after his playing days were over. On this date in 1942 he was elected to the Hall of Fame --with only 78.1 percent of the vote.

And it was his FIFTH try!

Check out this clip on Hornsby from Ken Burns' Baseball

Hornsby failed to get enough votes every year from 1936 (46.5 percent), 1937 (26.4 percent), 1938 (17.6 percent) and 1939 (64.2 percent.) It was clearly a slap in the face to one of the best players in the history of the game.

Hornsby has the highest career batting average for a right-handed hitter (.358) in the history of the game. He was a two-time MVP, he won seven batting titles, he led the National League in slugging percentage nine times and is one of the few players in the history of the game to win the triple crown, hitting .401 with 39 homers and 143 RBIs in 1925

But Hornsby was so disliked that he was traded away by the Cardinals in 1926 -- just after he led the team as player manager to its first World Series -- in a salary dispute when he demanded an unheard of at the time five-year contract.

Here's a clip of Hornsby explaining his batting stance and hitting philosophy.

Players for his next team, the Giants, hated Hornsby so much that the players chipped in to buy the general manager a trophy as a thank you for trading him away after one season.

Hornsby managed the St. Louis Browns is two stints, the first from 1932-37 for Bill Veeck Sr. and the second in 1952 for Bill Veeck Jr. When the younger Veeck hired The Rajah his mother allegedly wrote him a letter asking junior why he thought he was smarter than his daddy. When Hornsby was fired 52 games later, mama sent junior a shorter note: "told you so!"

Apparently baseball writers, who vote for the Hall of Fame enshrinees, didn't like Hornsby much better. I wonder what they would have thought about Mark McGwire.