"If you have to think about whether a player is a hall of famer—he isn’t” is a popular rule of thumb in voting a player into the Hall of Fame. A Hall of Fame player must be outstanding, leaving no doubts in anyone’s mind. If a voter has doubts about a player, then that player isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame.
“If you have to think about it, then the guy probably isn’t a Hall of Famer” was written in 1996 by San Jose (CA) Mercury News sportswriter Bud Geracie.
Google News Archive
18 December 1996, The News (Boca Raton, FL), “Hall of Fame voting no walk in the park” by Bud Geracie (San Jose Mercury News), pg. 3B, col. 1:
It was just last Jan. 10 that I wrote: “If you have to think about it, then the guy probably isn’t a Hall of Famer.”
26 July 2006, Rockford (IL) Register-Star, “Final pitch; Older players make late bids for Hall of Fame” by Mel Antonin (Gannett News Service), pg. 2D, col. 1:
But voter Jeffrey Flanagan, a columnist for The Kansas City Star, thinks players such as Vizquel and Kent could get lost in the shuffle.
“My philosophy is that if you have to think for more than a second or two, the player might not be a Hall of Famer,” Flanagan says.
Pro Football Reference Blog
Hall of Fame debates
Posted by Doug on August 7, 2006
2. When people say, “If you have to think about it, then the answer is no.” First, this doesn’t even make any sense. Wherever you draw the line, there will be people near it and you’ll have to think about those people. But that’s beside the point. They probably mean if you have to think about it given the current set of de facto standards, then the answer is no. So it’s just a sports-radio way of saying that the standards should be higher than they currently are.
OK, that’s fine. How exclusive the Hall ought to be is a subjective matter and everyone is entitled to an opinion. Personally, I don’t have a problem with a more inclusive Hall of Fame. Jerome Bettis was a heck of a football player, and I don’t see the harm in putting him in. Same with Terrell Davis and even Art Monk. But the higher-standards crowd seems to think that the inclusion of Bettis somehow trivializes the accomplishments of Jim Brown and Walter Payton. Just because Walter Payton = Hall of Famer and Jerome Bettis = Hall of Famer doesn’t mean Walter Payton = Jerome Bettis.
Bleacher Report—Major League Baseball
Baseball Hall Of Fame: If You Have To Think, They’re Not Hall of Famers
By James Stewart-Meudt , Correspondent Jan 5, 2011
If you need to think about whether or not a player is a hall of famer, then he’s not.
It really is that simple.
The players elected to the Hall of Fame should be the guys who give you goosebumps. The hitters who, when they stepped into the batter’s box, you stopped to watch. The pitchers who, when they took the mound, gave you a chance to see a no hitter or perfect game.
Is Mike Piazza a Hall of Famer?
By Dave Searles, NJ.com fan blogger
on January 10, 2013 at 4:07 PM, updated January 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM
My criteria for the hall of fame was always very simple, if you have to think about whether a player is a hall of famer ... he isn’t.
In the 60’s, when I first became a baseball fan, the hall of famers were obvious. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver required no thought. I did not need to know a player’s on base percentage or wins above replacement to determine if he was a hall of famer. I knew a hall of famer when I saw one ... it was as simple as that.
@JuMosq The old saying has always been “if you have to think about whether he’s a hall of famer or not, he probably isn’t”
4:11 PM - 22 Jun 2014