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Neighbors make Hall of Fame push to help Tony Oliva get into Cooperstown

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This could finally be the year for former Minnesota Twins great Tony Oliva.

Oliva is again eligible to be considered for Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame by baseball's 16-member Golden Era Committee.

A charge being led by his friends and neighbors to urge members of the committee to "Vote Tony O" has been gaining support in Minnesota.

Three years ago when Oliva was considered by the committee he came four votes shy of the 12 needed to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Mike Murphy, who along with his brother, Dan, and niece Erin, helped to found the Tony O Foundation remembers that day.

"Back when they decided not to put him in the Hall of Fame, it was devastating," Murphy said to Twins blogger for MLB.com, Rhett Bollinger. "And it was devastating, not because Tony feels like it's a right he belongs in there, it was devastating because his first concern was that he let his fans down. But really he didn't let anyone down. His numbers haven't changed since 1976. But that's just the way he thinks."

Oliva's accomplishments on the diamond certainly make a strong argument for his inclusion.

  • He hit .304 with 220 home runs, 329 doubles and 947 RBIs
  • Played in eight straight All-Star games between 1964-71
  • Named American League Rookie of the Year in 1964
  • Became the first player to win a batting title in each of his first two seasons.

But knee injuries hampered Oliva during his career and eventually ended it, hurting his Hall of Fame chances.

Prior to Oliva's last opportunity, Dan Murphy, his neighbor, started the campaign to encourage fans and supporters of Oliva to write letters and encourage his election to the Hall of Fame. Minn Post notes that nearly 2,000 letters were written in support of Oliva.

While the campaign didn't get Oliva elected, Murphy took the momentum it created and has grown "Vote Tony O" into a licensed non-profit corporation that has helped to send more than 14,000 letters and postcards to the committee urging it to take a look at Oliva's Hall of Fame case.

We will find out if the fruits of all that work pays off when the committee announces the Hall of Fame selections on Monday.

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