A Tribute to Mr. O and the Bonds of Western Pennsylvania

By Nick Deiuliis

Movie fans marvel how actors on the big screen are famously linked within six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

Western Pennsylvania is far from Hollywood, both geographically and culturally. It’s been home all my life, a place where the connections and relationships run wide and deep. A place where everyone is connected not by six, but only by a degree or two of separation.

In western Pennsylvania communities, the good fortune of one is often enjoyed by many, and someone’s misfortune is willingly shouldered by many. We look after each other as extended family. A big, boisterous, dysfunctional, loving clan of yinzers.1

And no one epitomized the essence of these exceptional people more than “Mr. O.”

I first met Mr. O when I was 13 and his house sat at the beginning of my route that I tended as a paperboy. The street he and I lived on was a long line of modest ranch and split-level homes neatly kept by no-nonsense, middle class, blue-collar types. Real people living normal lives.

He was a good tipper, a trait this old paperboy never forgets. Mr. O was one of those rare adults who could put a teenager at ease while keeping it clear who was boss.

Mr. and Mrs. O had two daughters who I went to school with, the older a year ahead and the younger a few years behind. The girls and their friends would hang out with my friends and our brothers and sisters. When I traded the paper route for another job, and graduated high school to move onto college, I may have from time to time ended up in Mr. O’s backyard at night with friends, sipping adult beverages and playing music.

All that socializing through the years led to wonderful things. Before you knew it, one of my best friends ended up dating Mr. O’s younger daughter. Their wedding ended up being a reunion of the same group of people from decades earlier in that South Hills backyard on my old paper route; just older, better dressed, and less fit.

Mr. O sadly lost his wife too early, but never moved. His girls lived close by (that’s Pittsburgh for you). His home enjoyed a few updates to the exterior through the years, but it still looked much the same as it did in the mid-1980s: happy, neat, and reflecting pride.

A few years ago, I was back at the old childhood homestead working in the front yard when Mr. O drove up in his vintage 1960s-era Volkswagen Beetle. He stopped and as was his custom, started to chat. As I watched him drive away, I experienced an incredibly strong sense of déjà vu, back to 1986. And it felt good.

I continued to see Mr. O each summer at a July picnic party his daughter and my old friend would throw at their house. It was evident Mr. O was taking full advantage of the little things in life. He couldn’t be happier.

Then news came down about a month ago that Mr. O wasn’t doing well. His health took a turn for the worst, and it wasn’t looking good. Thankfully, he was resting comfortably at home.

I asked the family if it would be ok for me to stop by and visit, and one sunny spring afternoon I made that familiar drive of a few miles, parked the car on my old street, and walked up those steps to Mr. O’s front door that I traversed daily for years as a teen delivering newspapers.

‘C’mon in’ I heard after knocking on the screen door. In I went and there in the living room was Mr. O, reclined in a hospital bed. ‘Hey, Nick! Why aren’t you at work?’ That was classic Mr. O and so…Pittsburgh.

We talked. About everything. How he met his wife. His time in the army. All those clean-ups after storms when he worked as a utility lineman. I found out he and I both hailed from the Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh before we moved to the South Hills, albeit he made the move south as an adult about twenty years before I did as a kid.

Mr. O knew his time was short. But he was grateful for his long journey. He was happy his kids were married to good men. He was content with his eighty-five years of living a genuine life.

Two days after my visit, Mr. O passed away.

Reflecting on the man and his life, I think I stumbled on what he meant to me. He wasn’t a mentor I looked to for advice. He wasn’t a father figure or friend as much as a friend’s father.

Mr. O, when it is all said and done, was a role model.

He showed how to live a complete life. A life not measured by awards, scores, or account balances; but one measured by being comfortable within your own skin and being content with your decisions.

Next time I drive down my old street, as is often my habit, I will come to the house at the start of my old paper route. The old Beetle won’t be in the driveway, the house exterior might wear a different color, and the new owners will be strangers. But to this old paperboy, that house will always remain Mr. O’s home.

Whoever said you can’t go home again sure as hell wasn’t from western Pennsylvania.2

1. yinzer (noun) – a native or inhabitant of the US city of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. “I walked over to a table of yinzers and instantly felt at home.”
2. Apologies to one of my literary heroes, Thomas Wolfe.

Nick Joins “The Whole Truth with David Eisenhower”

In this episode of “The Whole Truth with David Eisenhower,” Nick joins host David Eisenhower to discuss energy and climate policy.

Nick leads off the discussion commenting he believes the most critical issue of our time isn’t climate change, but rather the policies that are being forced upon society in the name of climate alarmism. He then explores those policies and their impact on the middle class, individual freedom, grid reliability, and the developing world.

Nick also stresses the importance of civil discourse and “always wrapping yourself in the math, in the chemistry, in the physics, in the science of things, not ‘the science,’ but the scientific method,” to ensure we’re pursuing sound energy policy as “the policy paths we’re on right now are the absolute ones we should be avoiding at all costs.” Nick calls for a free-market approach to addressing environmental challenges as private sector innovation and ingenuity will lead to more efficient solutions than government intervention.

For daily insights and commentary from Nick Deiuliis, follow Nick on Twitter at @NickDeiuliis and on LinkedIn.

Harvesting History: Farmer Activism is Democracy’s Early Warning System

By Nick Deiuliis

Elites have a long history of looking down on and patronizing the working classes. It’s a sad social truth that extends back to America’s founding. Europe’s history of confrontation between the two classes stretches back centuries.

Today’s elites labeling the working class as Deplorables, Flyover Country, and Bible-and-Gun-Clingers is nothing new. It seems the more things change in America and Europe the more they stay the same.

You see the self-perpetuating dynamic with perhaps the original working-class demographic: farmers.

One of America’s first confrontations between the working class and elites was western Pennsylvania farmers initiating the Whiskey Rebellion during George Washington’s presidency. Indeed, farmers have a proud history of being first within the working class to confront excessive government control and elites looking to disenfranchise citizens.

And true to form, farmers across Europe are once again raising the alarm for the rest of society when it comes to loss of individual rights and constriction of liberty. Because the Left, the radical environmental theocracy, and the bureaucrat just can’t stop messing with society’s doers.

With so much at stake, a refresh of farmers’ movements in the United States and a discussion of the current farmers’ uprising in Europe is warranted.

American Farmers: A History of Political Activism

The latter half of the 1800s saw American farmers achieve a new, higher level of political activism that had national implications lasting to this day.1 It all started with disruptive technology.

The 19th century brought unprecedented economic advancement and groundbreaking technology, combining to drastically affect industry and agriculture. Steamships and railroads were game changers.

Along with new, advanced machinery and growing foreign trade, they disrupted everything across the American economy, from the factory floor to the farm field.

But net-net, manufacturing and urban areas benefited much more from the innovation and economic revolution than agriculture and rural areas. The individual farmer and small town were especially hard hit. Cities got bigger, industry became more profitable, but individual farmers found themselves struggling more.

Despite the innovations, farming still lacked scale. And competition was global when it came to demand and pricing for crops. Farmers were affected by global developments out of their control for revenue but had costs set by an inefficient local or regional market. The worst of both worlds created a financial pinch of low, at-risk revenue and high cost.

Adding to the farmer’s difficulty was a reliance on credit and a run-up in debt. As well as having to carry the risks of crop storage and transportation, lease rents for land, and speculators preying on micro-markets.

Indeed, the American farmer was facing seemingly impenetrable headwinds in the latter half of the 1800s.

Farmers decided it was time to unite and become activists to support their cause. Initially they looked to the labor movement in larger cities as the model to follow. The industrial labor unions were posting some impressive successes, so why not copy the playbook?

But farming is not the same as, say, coal mining or steelmaking. Thus, farmers quickly realized they would need their own brand of activism.

Just after the Civil War, the Patrons of Husbandry, also known as the Grange, appeared in the rural South and West.

It was the first national political movement for farmers—focused on setting rate caps on rail rates, which were a key point of contention and major financial risk for farmers in the South and West. The organization is alive and well today, with a Washington, D.C. headquarters and roughly 1,700 local chapters across America’s farming communities.

I feed you all!” lithograph by American Oleograph Co., Milwaukee, 1875.
(Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

After the Grange came the Greenback Party, focusing on addressing the problems of currency and inflation that troubled farmers. The party advocated for a break from the gold standard, fiat money, and a cheaper dollar, reflecting aspects of today’s modern monetary theory, or MMT. It was hoped that such an approach would grow farm revenue while making debt more manageable.2

Although the Greenback Party ran presidential candidates over three national elections (1876, 1880, and 1884), it wasn’t very successful politically. But it was quite successful in calling attention to the shortcomings of the US monetary system.

Around the same time of the Greenback Party, the Farmers Alliances in the Northwest and South were created. The idea was to unite farmers, becoming a force in established party politics and taking on the Gilded Age. The Southern Alliance focused on commandeering the dominant Democratic Party by electing candidates to run for state offices and for Congress. While in the Northwest, the Farmers Alliance started to behave as a separate third party that was populist.

The fourth and most impactful farmers movement was the Populists, centered in the West and also having support in the South. It was known as the People’s Party, the Populists, or the Populist Party. Lack of rainfall got things moving as drought devastated farmers in the Plains in the late 1880s and farms began to fail.

Farmers felt that business interests of railroads and bankers were contributing to, and feeding off, their plight and wanted to do something about it. That started a passionate movement, with followers preaching populism. The People’s Party candidate for president, James Weaver, won 22 Electoral College votes in the 1892 election, winning four Western states outright and winning electoral votes in two others. The party eventually merged into the Democratic Party in the next presidential election of 1896.

Although the People’s Party ultimately died, many of its ideas lived on. Subsequent policies in the coming years affecting conservation, trusts, railroads, and banking trace roots back to the populism of the farmers in the late 1800s. Including the creation of the Federal Reserve and many of President Teddy Roosevelt’s positions and accomplishments.

Europe’s Farmers Rise Up in 2024

The American farmer acting up in the late 1800s shares a lineage to European farmers acting up in 2024. Despite over a century and an ocean between the two, the movements have much in common.

Indeed, history is once again rhyming. Because today’s European farmers find themselves under siege by the arrogant elites.

Farmers are protesting across Europe. Spain, UK, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, France, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, and Poland; from Ireland to Romania. It’s become a truly pan-European movement.

Videos populate the internet of tractors and convoys of farming equipment blocking roads. Clips abound of farmers dumping wine and feed in front of government buildings.

And the protestors aren’t just the farmers in these nations, but also organizations that are affiliated with farmers and agriculture. These institutions have joined what was originally a grassroots protest and morphed it into something bigger and better organized. The movements are starting to win elections, from the local to the national, as seen in the Netherlands.

Typical of governments run by elites, the continent’s bureaucracy is making things worse and not listening.

For example, Spain issued thousands of sanctions or violations against citizens under its Orwellian Citizen Security Law (commonly referred to as the Gag Law). Yet Barcelona was still brought to a standstill by the protests. And Spanish farmers dumped wine in front of a municipal water authority to protest water restrictions.

Italy saw 1,600 tractors poised to enter Rome. A Milan protest saw a cow join in the march. Italian farmers were angered by the expiration of an income tax exemption. Italy’s Prime Minister ultimately relented and agreed to not let the exemption expire.

Greece is experiencing protests everywhere, with a major highway to Athens blocked. The Netherlands got things rolling on the continent with the Farmers Citizens Movement.

Germany is an especially interesting case. The government desired to camouflage the cost of climate policies by using pandemic emergency funds to fund its forced energy transition. Nice idea, but the courts deemed it unlawful, reasoning quite correctly that climate change is not Covid. So, the government decided that the climate policies would continue and that the cost would be offset by removing diesel fuel subsidies to German farmers.

Following the increased costs to farmers from all the other climate polices within the German net zero nightmare, the removal of the subsidy was the last straw. It stripped away the pretend veneer of the myth that net zero plans don’t hurt anyone. German farmers reacted; roads were blocked, from Munich to Berlin, and the world viewed images of farm tractors blocking the approach to the iconic Brandenberg Gate in Berlin.

Farmers protest at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Jan. 15, 2024.
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

European politicians are finally paying attention and assuring that they feel for the farmers being victimized by the EU bureaucracy and the elites who run it.

Enter the Spin of the Elites

With the farmer protests undisputedly in plain view for all to see, those looking to divert attention from the root cause jump into spin mode.

Mainstream media and politicians caught off guard by the agrarian working-class protests now blame five root causes for catalyzing these protests: climate policies, inflation, food imports, the urban-rural divide, and economic inequality.

Which is sort of true, but not entirely. Because only the first item, climate change policies, is the true root cause. The remaining four are symptoms of those climate policies. Much like the farmer protestors themselves.

Certainly, the European Green Deal is wreaking havoc on European farmers. One of the primary objectives of climate policies is to make it uneconomic to farm, to provide food, and to eat. At least without government support and approval.

A goal of climate policies is empowering the bureaucrat and the state to dictate what one eats and how much. Under the false flag of saving the planet and the pleasant-sounding optical cloak of ‘sustainable farming.’

Farmers understand climate policies will soon eradicate them, just as such policies initially targeted (and are on their way to eradicating) the fossil fuel industry, power grid, and gasoline-powered cars across Europe. But the farmers aren’t taking this lying down; they refuse to make the same mistakes the complacent domestic energy industry, autoworkers unions, and consumer advocates made when allowing the radical environmental movement to roll over their interests.

What about the other cause of the protests identified by the elites: inflation, food imports, the urban-rural divide, and economic inequality?

Of course, the cost of living and inflation are up. Natural gas costs are up and so is fertilizer cost, which requires natural gas as a feedstock. Farming requires carbon-based energy and products like just about everything else in a modern economy. Thus, if you create energy scarcity while inflating energy costs through climate policies, you do the same for the inputs of farming. Farming soon becomes uneconomic.

The European mainstream media point to inflation and pin it on Russia invading Ukraine, which increased energy costs. Or the media blames drought, caused by (you guessed it) climate change, as raising costs.

Climate policies enabled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and catalyzed general inflation. And yes, somewhere in Europe, right now, there will be drought. And somewhere in Europe, right now, there will be floods. It is a large continent, after all. But change in weather isn’t causing the existential plight of farmers or inflation. Despite media and academic experts wanting it to.

Farmers are hurt by food imports, but that is yet another symptom of climate change policies that dictate who makes and uses what on a global scale. Nations and the private sector within national economies ultimately lose autonomy under all variations of climate policies, from domestic energy industries to the domestic providers of food.

Climate policies are designed to make European-grown food too expensive. Which then has the desired effect of creating food scarcity. The food supply shifts from mostly European to mostly foreign providers, with Europeans now having to look to places like North Africa and Ukraine. Not exactly geopolitically stable places to get your dinner from.

Then there’s the popular elite excuse of the rural-urban divide stoking these protests. Which is ironic.

It’s not that urban elites don’t care about rural citizens. The government bureaucrat and the experts care greatly; the problem is they care about placing the rural, or what we call Flyover Country here in America, in economic chains and assigning them to a life of reliance on the state. Is it any wonder that rural Europeans tend to be more Euroskeptic? They are more astute than the urban elites give them credit for.

And when it comes to economic inequality, that fifth and final excuse proffered by the media as a cause of the farmer protests across Europe, one is hard pressed to think of anything that is a more regressive tax and regressive value appropriator than net zero plans and climate change policies.

Net zero plans radically catalyze income inequality. Like these other red-herring issues, the media wants to label economic inequality as a root cause of the farmer protests. Yet economic inequality is a symptom of the singular, true root cause: climate policies and their net zero scams.

Where Do Farmer Protests Go From Here?

One should be quite optimistic regarding the implications of European farmers standing up for themselves. Wider society stands to benefit three ways.

First, the farmer protests secured shorter-term successes when political leaders in nations such as France and Italy backed off planned moves that would’ve hit farmers disproportionately and that would have increased the cost of food. That’s created an incentive for farmers in other European nations to join the movement. Which is why the protests quickly spread across Europe, why they’ve extended into March and will likely continue. What’s good for the farmer is good for the consumer and the overall economy.

Second, the reaction of the farmers to climate change policies created a deterrent for European politicians and bureaucrats—forcing them to think twice before unleashing additional and similar draconian moves on other sectors of the European economy and society.

As they’ve done for centuries, the farmer has provided a great service to a host of others. This time their resistance and advocacy for common sense has stymied the consequences of climate policies for countless businesses and families.

Third, the farmer protest movement is winning elections, from the local to national level, as seen in the Netherlands. Candidates opposed to economy-killing climate policies trounced leftist parties obsessed about climate change, Code Red, and irreversible state control of the individual.

Despite these realities, a complicit media is still trying to cover for the bureaucrat in Europe. The overwhelming political upheaval and protest by farmers is precipitating a disingenuous discussion about who pays for climate change policies and net zero plans.

Which is nonsensical to debate, because everyone pays for climate change policies and net zero plans in a modern economy. It is not a question about who pays. Instead, it comes down to how transparent will the costs that are being borne by all be brought to light, and how soon.

Do people wake up before reaching the point of no return? Or do the policies become so embedded within an economy and society that it doesn’t matter what happens once society awakens?

European farmers have performed a noble duty for all Europeans. Following a rich history of American farmer movements. Let’s hope the current protests serve as both a moral and economic alarm clock to wake up society to the threat of climate change policies. Before it’s too late.

1. In the 1930s, historian John D. Hicks was a leading voice on populism and farmer movements.
2. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.
3. Climate change is nothing new; been happening for millions of years.

Nick Joins the Forgotten America Podcast

In this episode of the “Forgotten America” podcast (available here on Apple Podcasts), Nick joins Cardinal Institute President & CEO Garrett Ballengee for a thought-provoking and entertaining discussion.

The conversation starts with a look back on Nick’s regional ties, career path, and his intellectual/philosophical influences. Nick then revisits his concept of the ongoing struggle between value-creators (the Creators, Enablers, and Servers) and value-appropriators (the Leech) of society, and how the struggle was the catalyst to writing Precipice.

Expanding upon Precipice, Garrett asks Nick about where the energy industry would fit into the four segments of society, which continues into exploring the importance of advocating for America’s energy industry. Also discussed is CNX Resources‘ social responsibility, including its focus on workforce development through the Mentorship Academy, as well as its environmental commitment evidenced by its new Radical Transparency initiative.

For daily insights and commentary from Nick Deiuliis, follow Nick on Twitter at @NickDeiuliis and on LinkedIn.

It’s Time: Five Baseball Greats Deserving Spots in the Cooperstown Lineup

By Nick Deiuliis

Listening yet again to Billy Crystal and the rest of the geriatric New York-centric elite wax on endlessly about how great the 1950s were for baseball is exhausting. If I have to hear about Willie, Mickey, and the Duke one more time, my head is going to explode. We get it: New York City had three teams back in the day and they all had great players.

My generation knows the greatest of eras in baseball history was the 1970s and early 1980s. Epic dynasties, compelling rivalries, and memorable stars. The best time to be a fan, especially a young one, no matter where in America you called home.

Major League Baseball is the stingiest of pro sports when it comes to allowing entry into its Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Last year only one individual, manager Jim Leyland, was inducted. And there have been nine years when no players were voted in.

That leaves deserving players on the outside looking in. Most troubling are greats who made their names during the 1970s and early 1980s, and whose window for conventional induction has closed.

Blame those who never played the game but are self-anointed experts at judging those who did: journalists.

Getting into Cooperstown under the standard track requires 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America to vote to allow it. Media can block any player for any reason. And it does.

There are five players who ruled the 1970s through much of the 1980s that deserve a second look by Cooperstown. Ones that didn’t gamble on the game (by the way, he should be in, too) and that predated the steroids era. They performed at a high level over long careers, with the five resumes ranging between 17 and 20 years.
Consider their cases and ask yourself how Cooperstown is complete without them.

Keith Hernandez (aka The Boyfriend from Seinfeld’s 3rd season)

Hernandez clearly checks more than a few boxes for Cooperstown.

An accomplished winner over his 17-year career. Two World Series titles for two different teams, first the Cardinals and then the Mets. Batting title the same year he was league MVP (1979).

A great contact hitter, finishing just shy of the career 0.300-mark for batting average (he bested the 0.300 threshold in seven seasons). And Hernandez had a great eye in the batter’s box, amassing over 1,000 career walks at a rate of nearly 15% of at-bats. Although he only managed 200+ hits one time, he reached base 250+ times eight different seasons.

Many consider Hernandez the greatest defensive first baseman in history. He won eleven consecutive Gold Gloves at the position. He has 1,682 career assists, third all-time. He single-handedly took away the option of bunting. A player in any sport should be in its Hall of Fame if they were the greatest ever at a key aspect of the game.
Hernandez sports an impressive, Hall of Fame-worthy 60+ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) that reflects his all-around strengths and attributes.

There are two criticisms of Hernandez that contribute to him remaining on the outside of the Hall of Fame looking in. First, he lacked power expected for his position, hitting only 162 home runs over 17 seasons. Cooperstown likes first baseman noted for the long ball. Second, he was one of the players caught up in the Pittsburgh drug trials, with his cocaine use catching up to him.

But this is the National Baseball Hall of Fame, not the Clean-Living Hall of Fame. And the game of baseball consists of more than the home run. Get Hernandez in there.

Dave Parker (aka The Cobra)

During the 1970s, Dave Parker stood above everyone on the field, literally, at a towering 6 feet 5 inches tall. And weighing in at 230 pounds, Parker looming in right field or rounding the bases toward home was an intimidating sight to behold. He would warm up in the batting circle with a sledgehammer (following a practice employed by teammate Willie Stargell).

Add to his physical presence key achievements: two titles with two teams (Pirates and A’s) and a league MVP award.

The Cobra got his nickname from his coiled stance and unleashed strike from the left side of the batter’s box. He was capable of inflicting massive damage with his bat, as his two back-to-back batting titles attest. He could hit for power, amassing over 300 career home runs and nearly 1,500 RBIs, both at impressive at-bat rates. And he could hit for average, finishing with a cumulative 0.290 batting average and over 2,700 hits.

And despite his size, he had impressive speed early in his career. His over 150 stolen bases over 19 years are easily the highest of any of our five induction-worthy players.

Parker won three Gold Gloves, and base runners learned quickly to think twice before testing his arm from right field. Just watch the highlight video of his two legendary throws in the 1979 All Star Game for exemplars; throws that earned him the game’s MVP award. His defensive play tapered off drastically later in his career, but in his prime he was about as electric as it got in right field.

So, what’s keeping a player who passes the eye test out of upstate New York? Parker’s WAR is respectable, at just over 40, albeit not Hall of Fame-caliber. His relatively low walk rate might have detracted from his WAR score (by way of comparison, Hernandez amassed almost 400 more career walks despite having nearly 2,000 fewer at-bats).

Like Hernandez, Parker succumbed to drug issues during his career. He also enjoyed a level of confidence that came across to fans as arrogance, and becoming the first million dollar-a-year athlete in Pittsburgh and then under-achieving at a time when steel mills were being shuttered left and right didn’t help his image.

Fortunately, Parker rebounded from his struggles and today serves as an inspiration for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. And anyone who had the pleasure of watching The Cobra knows Cooperstown is not complete until his name is in it.

Steve Garvey (aka Mr. Clean)

If you would ask just about any player or sportswriter circa 1982 if Steve Garvey was destined for the Hall of Fame, they would have answered in the affirmative. He was amassing the necessary stats, he played on great teams in a big market, he accomplished the career milestones, and he had the image.

If you doubt that to be the case, consider a Sporting News poll of National League managers in 1986. Garvey came up fifth in the answer to a question about which players would deserve a Hall of Fame plaque if their careers came to an end right away. The only names in front of Garvey’s: Pete Rose, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, and Nolan Ryan.

Over 19 seasons, Garvey accumulated one hit shy of 2,600 hits and finished with a career batting average of 0.294. Garvey reached the 200-hit mark in six seasons, something achieved by 13 other players in history at the time of Garvey’s retirement. All 13 are in the Hall of Fame, except for Pete Rose. And Garvey had good power, hitting home runs at an impressive per-at bat rate.

Garvey was a very solid fielder, winning four Gold Gloves at first base during an era when Keith Hernandez was stringing eleven Gold Gloves in a row at first base in the same National League.

But what makes Garvey most deserving of the Hall of Fame are his career accomplishments beyond the traditional stats. He won a title with the Dodgers in 1981, beating the hated Yankees. He was a league MVP. His playoff performances earned him National League Championship Series MVP, twice. And he was a perennial all-star, winning the MVP award for that game, twice.

But here is the most impressive accomplishment of Garvey’s that not many appreciate: he is the all-time National League iron man. Garvey sits fourth on the all-time consecutive games list, behind American Leaguers Ripken and Gehrig (and lesser-known Everett Scott), making him the National League iron man, with over 1,200 consecutive games played. That streak, spanning nine seasons, exceeds the next closest National Leaguers and legends: Billy Williams and Stan Musial.

Garvey’s career produced a WAR of only 38, below the Hall of Fame norm. A contributor was his desire as a hitter to swing away instead of taking a base on balls. In fact, Garvey has the lowest walk ratio of any of the five on this list. He placed a premium on RBIs at a time when that was the norm.

And some critics hold Garvey’s personal drama later in his career against him. Probably because it was in stark contrast to his polished image. But consider what gets ignored today: celebrated stars despite allegations of domestic-abuse, excessive philandering, and exhibiting boorish behavior toward fellow humans.

Garvey certainly wasn’t perfect off the field, but his faults were quite mild by today’s standards. His stats get him close, and his accomplishments put him over the top. Time for Cooperstown to call.

Al Oliver (aka Scoops)

This is probably the most surprising name of the five when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration. But Oliver had an incredibly impressive career that was overshadowed by bigger names on his great teams or that unfolded in ignored baseball backwaters.

He won a World Series with the 1971 Pirates. That championship team during the ’71 season would enjoy an outfield of Willie Stargell in left, Oliver in center, and Roberto Clemente in right. Talk about a field of dreams, as well as a pitcher’s nightmare.

But then Oliver was off to the Rangers and Expos. Six seasons in total. Yet moving from great lineups with the Pirates Lumber Company to lesser ones to the south and north didn’t hurt Oliver’s offensive production. It improved.

Scoops was a great contact hitter and is the only player of the five that broke the 0.300 mark for career batting average. Oliver has the most career hits of the bunch, at 2,743. His power was good. He won the league batting title in 1982 with the Expos.

Oliver is an interesting study when it comes to Hall of Fame inclusion. He wasn’t an exemplary fielder, never having won a Gold Glove. He didn’t walk enough, similar to the popular criticism of Garvey. And his WAR of just under 44 is lower than that of most players who landed in the Hall of Fame.

But there is a sadly ironic aspect about Oliver’s story that is crucial when considering his Cooperstown credentials. His career was effectively cut short due to baseball ownership colluding to keep him off a major league roster toward the end of his career (which was legally affirmed and resulted in Oliver being awarded damages). His career ended from boycott, not diminishing on-field performance.

If he was given the chance to play out his career to the extent his abilities allowed (especially as a designated hitter), it is safe to say he would have surpassed the 3,000 hit mark. Which would make him a sure-fire hall-of-famer because those with 3,000 career hits that are not in the Hall of Fame are either not yet eligible, are tainted with steroid abuse, or are named Pete Rose.

Major League Baseball’s restitution to Oliver will not be complete until he is in the Hall of Fame.

Dwight Evans (aka Dewey)

Perhaps we saved the best and most surprising for last with the case for Dwight Evans. He played on great Red Sox teams and was oft overshadowed by stars like Yaz, Rice, and Fisk. Evans spent 19 of his 20 years in the major leagues with the Red Sox; he is second on the all-time games played list for the Red Sox, surpassed only by Carl Yastrzemski.

Three attributes place Evans in the Hall of Fame discussion.

First, he had great power. His home run-per-at bat is easily the best and highest of the five up for consideration. Dave Parker is next best and is a distant second to Evans. Evans didn’t start out as a great hitter; he was viewed more as a defensive specialist who then worked himself into being a great hitter.

Second, he had a great eye as a batter and his career walks tally proves it. He accumulated nearly 1,400 career walks, at a rate rivaled only by Keith Hernandez within the group of five. Evans is an impressive combination of power and eye.

Last, he was excellent with the glove in the field. Eight career Gold Gloves don’t happen by accident or luck. His arm in rightfield was matched only by Dave Parker’s, and Parker could only do so in his prime.

All three attributes contribute to Evans’ excellent WAR of over 67, the highest of the five deserving players. That tally is beyond respectable for Hall of Fame inclusion, better than Duke Snider’s (take that, Billy Crystal!) and just a tad under Ernie Banks’.

Evans’ argument for entry to Cooperstown is simple. His case isn’t the what-if of Oliver, or the eye-test of Parker, or the resume of Garvey, or the greatest-ever at some aspect of Hernandez. He was incredibly consistent with his strengths, and those strengths over twenty years constructed a great career case.

Take all the names, videos, and awards away. Leave only the numbers. An objective baseball afficionado will look at Evans’ career stats and wonder how such a player is not in the Hall of Fame. The answer remains elusive.