Lets understand one thing. When players get selected into the Hall, it is important that what got them there has more to do with baseball than anything else. Gowdy played parts of 17 seasons in the big leagues, but only played over 100 games three times in his career. The majority of his career was spent as a backup or platoon catcher (the use of platoon was not intended as a pun). The numbers just do not add up as he had just 738 career hits and was not a power hitter, run producer or run scorer.
Gowdy was the leader of the 1914 Boston Braves team that shocked the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series that season. Though he was 6-11 with 1 2B, 1 3B and 1 HR, he only hit .243 for the regular season. If there were World Series MVPs at that time, Gowdy would have been it. But still, his accomplishments are not enough for baseball's highest honor.
What Gowdy will forever be known for is the fact that he was the first major league baseball player to enlist during World War 1. This was in 1917, after the best stretch of baseball of his career and caused him to miss the entire 1918 season. He returned to Boston to play for the Braves in 1919 and stayed there until he was traded to the Giants in 1923. Gowdy stopped playing after the 1925 season. He would play in major league games again for the Braves in both the 1929 and 1930 seasons.
In WWI, Gowdy saw action in the 2nd Brigade of the Ohio National Guard. He was also a member of the 166th infantry of the 42nd division. After finished serving, and he was finished playing, he joined the Braves coaching staff in 1929 and stayed there through the 1937 season. He joined the Reds coaching staff and stayed there from 1938-1942. World War II would break out and Gowdy once again joined the military, this time as a Captain in the US Army. According to records, Gowdy is the only MLB player to serve in both World Wars. While some name players get a lot of credit (all of it deserved), Gowdy did it twice, something that no others can likely say.
I think it has been a sympathetic charge led by the baseball writers to get Gowdy into the Hall. The fact that he received votes in 17 years, in my opinion, is absurd. I understand that what he did for this country is incomparable, but it has nothing to do with what he did as a baseball player. I recently wrote a story about a Washington Senators SS named Cecil Travis which talked about how his career was destroyed by his service in the military. He was on pace to be a Hall of Famer, but that chance was eliminated when he could not be the same player. Travis is more of a HOF than Gowdy, but I agree that both players fall short of qualifications.
For the record, the player who owns the record for the most times on a Hall of Fame ballot is Edd Roush, who played 18 years in the big leagues, including two in the Federal League in 1914 and 1915. He hit .321 in his career and had 2376 hits, while winning NL Batting Titles in 1917 and 1919. Of course, he was part of the 1919 Cincinnati Reds team that won the World Series in surprising fashion over the Chicago White Sox only to find out that the White Sox were in on a fix with gamblers and threw the World Series. Roush was on the BBWAA ballot for 19 seasons and was not selected. However, in 1962, he was selected by the Veterans Committee into Baseball's Hall of Fame.