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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.

4 thoughts on “Joan Payson Should Be Inducted Into The Baseball Hall of Fame”

  1. Rich Hausig says:

    Interesting idea. There is a podcast called, A Pod of Their Own, can’t remember the site, but they did a show about Mrs Payson, (she was Whitney Payson,:yes those Whitney’s) .

    I remember her well. She really was a big deal back then as a leading woman of the times. I can remember how my mother, also a Mays fan (he was my guy too) really looked up to Mrs. Payson. I think it would by justifiable to put her in. She brought back National baseball to NYC for God’s sake. Go watch Ken Burns Baseball I think inning 7, its impossible to believe MLB let those teams and leave. People were devastated.

    MD, you should run a poll and ask people if they think they would have been Giant or Dodger fans had they not left.

    I always thought I’d have been a Giant fan because of Mays. But now I think I would have been a Dodger fan. Half my family is from Brooklyn the other half upper Manhattan. But I’m a sports loser (Mets Jets Rangers Knicks) and the Dodgers were great losers except for 55′.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      My grandfather was a New York Giants fan, and my father was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I think I ultimately would’ve wound up a Dodgers fan, but there definitely would’ve been a Giants push.

      1. Rich Hausig says:

        My dad is a Yankee fan, God that would have been so much easier. But I started, really, in 1971 as a fan and went to my first game in 72 when Willie came back to NY with the Mets. Plus the Yankees were terrible. By 1975 (I think) I really hated George and I just could never like the Yankees. Even now I respect them but hate them and would root for anyone against them. However, I am for George getting into the Hall too. He was as important and owner as MLB has ever had and the players should worship him. He single handily drove salaries up when the other chintzbag owners would screw players for a nickel. Additionally, like it or not, he is the architect of the business model which has made the Yankees more valuable than any other team in US sports.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I think what George did to Winfield would be enough to keep him out of the Hall.

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