Joan Payson Should Be Inducted Into The Baseball Hall of Fame
With yesterday being International Women’s Day, Sabr released a bio of Joan Payson, the woman who was the original owner of the New York Mets. The article written by Joan M. Thomas was quite enlightening about just how important a figure Payson is not just in Mets but also Major League history.
As noted in the article, Payson was a pioneer who was the first woman to ever purchase a baseball team. This opportunity presented itself when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to California. For her part, Payson was a minority owner in the Giants, and she was one of the people who sought to bring National League Baseball back to New York with her being the owner of the New York team of the Continental League.
Payson loved baseball listening to games wherever she went. As we know, she unofficially retired 24 in honor of Willie Mays, her favorite player. She was involved with the Mets top to bottom including the team getting its name in her apartment.
Under her stewardship, the Mets not only obtained Tom Seaver, but they would become the first ever expansion team to win a World Series. That would make her the first ever woman to own a team to win the World Series. Through and through, Payson was a true baseball pioneer.
In that way, she has a profile similar to Hall of Famer Effa Manley. Manley was inducted into the Hall of Fame because of her ownership of the Newark Eagles, a team who would win the Negro League World Series in 1946. More than that, she emerged as an important owner who helped legitimize the league. In fact, when Larry Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians, her team received compensation much in the same way we have seen NPL teams receive compensation when players like Ichiro Suzuki came to the Major Leagues.
With Manley’s induction, there was a precedent set. The Hall of Fame inducted Manley because she was a pioneer who was a winner. Manley was inducted because she was an important owner in the Negro Leagues. Ultimately, she was inducted because of her impact on the game.
No, Payson did not face the same societal problems Manley did. Far from it. However, Payson is an important figure in Major League history.
It was her involvement in the Continental League which helped drive expansion. She became the first woman to purchase a Major League team. She was the first ever woman to own a team which won the World Series. The effects of what she did as an owner are still present today.
Fact is, Payson is an important figure in Major League history, and her impact on the game should be recognized with her being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, when the Veteran’s Committee or Modern Baseball Committee convene later this year, Payson will not only be on the ballot, but she will also be elected.