Hall of Fame
The full name of the Hall of Fame is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It is located in Cooperstown, New York. The Hall was dedicated in 1939. It is one of the oldest Halls of Fame in the country.
It was established by heirs to the fortune of Edward Clark, one of the two founders of the Singer Manufacturing Company, known for its sewing machines. Members of the Clark family still sit on the Hall's board of directors to this day, including Board Chairperson Jane Forbes Clark. On a day-to-day basis, it is run by a President. The most recent holders of the position have been Dale Petroskey (1999-2008) and Jeff Idelson (since 2008). Idelson is slated to retire in 2019 and will be replaced by Tim Mead, who was previously public relations director for the Los Angeles Angels, on June 24th. One of the most prestigious positions at the Hall of Fame is that of official historian. The position has been held by top-notch researchers such as Ernest Lanigan (1946-1959), Lee Allen (1959-1969), Jerome Holtzman (1999-2008) and John Thorn (since 2011).
Currently, The Hall of Fame is made up of the museum, where notable baseball memorabilia is on display, the actual Hall of Fame, where plaques of inductees are displayed, and a library.
The Hall is open daily 9 AM to 9 PM in the summer and 9 AM to 5 PM in the off-season. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
In addition to players, managers, pioneers and executives have also been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Hall also awards the J.G. Taylor Spink Award to newspaper writers and the Ford Frick Award to broadcasters. Winners of these awards are not technically Hall of Famers, but they are recognized as having reached the pinnacle of their profession.
Rules For Election
There are two avenues to election to the Hall of Fame for players.
Election by the writers
A player is eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame if satisfies the following criteria:
- The player must have competed in ten seasons. A single game counts as a "season" in the eyes of the Hall.
- The player has been retired for at least five seasons. If a player comes back and plays in the major leagues, the clock restarts. The easiest way to figure out the rule is to add six to the last season the player was active. Therefore, players eligible in 2007 played their last game in 2001.
- A screening committee must approve the player's worthiness. Most players are given a token appearance on the ballot if they meet the ten year rule and they were a regular player for most of that time.
- The player may not be on the ineligible list (banned from baseball).
- If a player dies within the five year span, he is eligible six months after his death provided he meets the above criteria. If an active player dies, he is eligible six months after his death.
- To remain on the ballot, the player must receive at least five percent of the votes for any given year. If a player fails to receive 5%. He falls off the ballot until 16 years after his retirement (see below).
- A player is considered elected if he receives at least 75% of all ballots cast in an election.
- Any member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) who has been an active member for ten years is eligible to vote.
- The BBWAA is limited to writers for newspapers. Internet journalists, scholars, and television and radio personalities are not eligible to become BBWAA members and are ineligible to vote. Rules were loosened in the 2000s, allowing prominent internet-based journalists to become members of the BBWAA, in recognition of the fact that the number of newspapers in the United States was diminishing rapidly and that baseball coverage was taking on new forms.
Changes in The Voting Process
The requirements to make the ballot for the Hall of Fame have changed throughout the years. In the original 1936 Hall of Fame Election all players, including active players, were eligible for selection. From 1937 through 1945 Hall of Fame Election there was no waiting period, but writers were discouraged from voting for active players, though some still did. In 1946 the BBWAA started a one year waiting period. This would last until the 1954 Hall of Fame Election. The 1955 Hall of Fame Election was the first to use the current five-year waiting period.
Rule changes also happened on the other end of the spectrum: how long a player could stay on the ballot. From 1946-1956, the rule was that a player must have been active at some point in the 25 years prior to the election – it was increased to 30 years from 1956-1962, and was 20 until the 2015 ballot, when it was trimmed by five years as the Hall was facing an increasingly crowded ballot, because of the risk of players tainted by steroids who were likely to stay on the ballot for years with little hope of being elected by the voters, and taking votes away from other deserving players.
The Committee on Baseball Veterans
The Veterans Committee has taken on many forms over the course of the last half century. The current construction was established in 2011. Baseball's history is broken into a number of eras, with more recent ones getting more frequent consideration than more distant periods from which candidates have been considered many times. On a rotational basis each era is voted on by a sixteen-member panel and any candidate receiving at least 12 votes (75%) is elected.
- All players who competed in 10 seasons at least 21 years before the election and all Negro League players with ten years of total service are eligible for election.
- Members are urged to consider the entire career of the player. For example, Joe Torre was considered for his 18 years as a player and his career as a manager.
- When a candidate turns 65, he is eligible six months after retirement. This applies to managers, umpires and executives.
- Anyone receiving at least 75% of the vote is considered elected.
Throughout history, the Commissioner has appointed several special committees for another look at certain groups of players. The Hall has also issued special mandates and modified the rules for certain groups of players. For example, in the late 1990s, the old Veterans Committee was to elect one Negro League player and one 19th century player each year.
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- Kevin Warneke and David C. Ogden: The Call to the Hall: When Baseball’s Highest Honor Came to 31 Legends of the Sport, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2018. ISBN 978-1-4766-6408-8