There are Facebook groups out there for just about anything.
Some make perfect sense.
Some don't make any sense at all.
For Everett Bridgeford of Somers Point, New Jersey, there was only one group that seemed right…“Let's Get Luis Tiant into the Hall of Fame Now!”.
And with the Veterans Committee announcing their "Golden Era" Hall of Fame selection soon...there seemed to be no better time to tell Bridgeford's story.
HOVG: What made you start your grassroots effort to get “El Tiante” enshrined in Cooperstown?
BRIDGEFORD: I was arguing with a friend of mine who is a Yankee fan that knows everything about Tiant’s legacy. He told me I was nuts. I was up late one night and I sent (Angels broadcaster) Victor Rojas a message on Facebook asking him if he thought I was crazy too. He said I was right and if I believed in it then I should pursue it. I then went to (former Red Sox pitcher) Dick Drago, who was also on Facebook, and he quickly said that Luis Tiant is the best person he has ever met and I should definitely try to get him in. So I started a page and began inviting as many people as I could find in Boston.
HOVG: How did your love affair with BeanTown start?
BRIDGEFORD: I have been a Sox fan for as long as I can remember. Being 34, I was too young for the good days and had a long wait for 2004, but I was always a student of those teams in the 70s. I would use my Yaz swing and my Tiant windup in little league and Wiffle Ball and could never understand why none of my other friends in South Jersey didn't love the Sox as much as I did.
HOVG: And this carried over to the Hall of Fame too, right?
BRIDGEFORD: Right. I would wait every year for the Hall of Fame ceremonies, so I could see Ted Williams come up on stage. I successfully begged my parents to drive the eight hours to Cooperstown so I could see Yaz get inducted. And then I waited and waited. Why wasn't Tiant getting in? Why weren't Rice and Evans getting in? It was driving me nuts. I was a kid, these were my idols and I still couldn't understand why no one else got it. I watched the children of .260 hitters from 50 years ago accept awards for their fathers and it caused me to lose faith in the Hall of Fame.
HOVG: All in all, what’s your goal?
BRIDGEFORD: My goal is to continue adding mew members through all means possible…the website, Facebook, word of mouth, TV and radio. This is truly grassroots. I have done this so far at no cost and have not earned a single cent from my efforts. I know we can do this based on the huge numbers of people that believe in this man getting in the Hall. The end game will consist of an all out marketing assault on the Hall's Veteran's Committee and getting that 75% from letters, phone calls, interviews and statistics that stand up to anyone.
HOVG: What would it mean to you for “El Tiante” to get the call from the Hall?
BRIDGEFORD: What would it mean for me? Wow, for one, I think it will be the greatest thing ever to see him on stage with a huge smile and cigar with thousands of fans chanting “LOU–EEE LOU-EEE”! I have never had this much passion in my life for anything and I believe it will happen. Ask anyone that knows me…I am not like that. But something is making me do this and it continues to grow. I do know that the coolest thing will be able to sit back and say that I changed things for the better and mean it. I could not believe that no one had tried this before and now it seems like a done deal and we are just waiting for the ceremony. There is a lot of work left and no shortage of people or ideas. I love waking up in the morning knowing that this will happen.
If you’re interested in helping Bridgeford get his message out about getting Luis Tiant in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, check out his Facebook group, join and then…invite your friends.
If you'd like to read this entire interview (yes, yes...this was originally posted in April 2010), click HERE!