Chick Hafey’s selection to the Hall of Fame is puzzling. A veteran of 13 MLB campaigns, Hafey played in as many as 100 games in seven seasons. Only twice did he play in as many as 140 games in a year. When it came time for the baseball writers to consider him for the Hall of Fame, Chick Hafey topped out at 10.8% of the vote, well below the 75% required for induction.
Ten years after he dropped off the ballot, the Veterans Committee with chairman Frankie Frisch opened the doors to Cooperstown and ushered Chick Hafey into baseball immortality. Most observers agree that Hafey’s five seasons alongside Frisch as a teammate in St. Louis are what put him in the Hall.
After a no-doubt Hall of Fame playing career in which he established the highest lifetime average among inducted switch hitters, Frisch became a voting member of the Hall’s Veterans Committee. Once there he ascended to the position of committee chairman, wielding his substantial influence to induct men who played alongside him.
Frisch’s legacy with the Veterans Committee is a dark chapter in the Hall’s history as he played the leading role in electing former teammates who fall well below Cooperstown standards.
Shown above is a letter written by Frisch to Paul Kerr, president of the Hall of Fame from 1961-1978. Frisch writes, “I want to thank you Uncle Paul for selecting the Old Flash as a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame Committee on Veterans. I feel it quite an honor, and I am proud, and I do hope I can do a thorough job.”.
The letter continues before Frisch pens his remarkably consistent signature at the bottom. The Old Flash would serve on the committee from his appointment in 1966 until his death in 1973.
Baseball historians agree that the selections of Jesse Haines (1970), Dave Bancroft (1971), Hafey (1971), Ross Youngs (1972), and George Kelly (1973) are among the most glaring errors in the the history of Hall of Fame.
My name is Robert Santoro, but my grandfather’s name was Richard Heafy and we have believed for many years that Chick Hafey is a distant relative of ours. My mother’s maiden name was Heafy and her dad was Richard Heafy. He told us a story of visiting a cousin one time in St. Louis who was a ballplayer. I am a huge baseball fan and my grandfather looks exactly like Chick at similar ages. We believe that perhaps when the relatives came over to America the last name was somehow botched and was mispronounced and spelled differently by the people on Ellis Island. My grandfather, grandmother, and now my mother most recently, passed away without being able to solve this puzzle. I have done some personal history searching and I believe Chick had two children, who both passed away prematurely young. I also have found out his mother lived till 1997. I only wish I had been able to contact her. I am looking for someone who can possibly help me link our family trees and was wondering if you have any knowledge of Chick’s family, his kids or anyone who may have donated items to the hall that I could try and find and contact? Any names of relatives or people who are on record with the hall of fame who might be able to get me in touch with the family would be helpful. I also have come to realize that he had at least 1 maybe 2 cousins who also played in the majors. Tom Hafey was one of the cousins. My mom recently passed and I am trying to unravel this story in her honor. If you could see a picture of my grandfather you would understand why we feel the name somehow got changed or mispronounced to record keepers. That story my grandfather told me was when I was very young so I did not think to investigate it, nor did I have the ability to research it in the pre-computer age. I am hoping you can help me. Thank you in advance.
Robert Santoro, possible 3rd cousin to Chick Hafey, and huge baseball fan and historian of the game.