Bob Gibson, a lock. . . Juan Marichal and Harmon Killebrew, strong possibilities. . . Thurman Munson, a good dark horse as special exception . . . all in their initial year of eligibility for the Baseball Writers Association of America vote. . .
Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges, contenders previously. . .
Any or all of those, but probably none of 32 other candidates, will be announced as electees to baseball's Hall of Fame today. And note: not since 1972 have more than two made it at a time.
To gain induciton this summer into the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine, a candidate must be named on at least 75 percent of the approximately 400 ballots submitted by 10-year members of the BBWAA. When honcho Jack Lang announces the results today at 11, look for Gibson, the nonpareil 17-year St. Louis Cardinal right-hander for sure at the New York press conference. On the others, you can speculate over breakfast.
Longtime Twin belter Killebrew, who started his career in Washington, outhomered all but four other major leaguers. The late Munson, five-year waiting period waived as it was in the case of another plane crash victim, Roberto Clemente, in 1973, might be voted in right away, as was Clemente, but then again the Yankee catcher was no 3,000-hit man. And 243-game winner Marichal: his pitching records closely approximate those of Gibson, who won 251, but the all-encompassing memories of many of the writers might be nagged by the picture of the Giant pitcher, Dodger catcher John Roseboro and a bat smashing down on Roseboro's head. But we all make mistakes.