CHAPTER 2‎ > ‎

(3) Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Entrance Qualifications

     For this section the Hall of Fame website, (http://baseballhall.org/), proved valuable.

Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame is possible through one of two ways. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) considers the candidacies of players who have played at least 10 major league seasons and been retired five seasons. The Veterans Committee considers those players whose careers concluded no later than 21 seasons ago, along with managers, umpires and executives ("BBWAA Election Rules," n.d.).

 

     There are multiple committees for voting players into the Hall of Fame; each votes in different years and has their own rules:

1) Veterans Committee - Pre-World War II Players,

2) Veterans Committee - Post-World War II Players,

3) Veterans Committee - Umpires and Managers and

4) Veterans Committee - Executives and Pioneers.

     The yearly elections that usually cause a stir are from the Baseball Writer's Association of America.  These elections are governed by the following rules:

1. Authorization: By authorization of the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) is authorized to hold an election every year for the purpose of electing members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the ranks of retired baseball players.

2. Electors: Only active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, who have been active baseball writers for at least ten (10) years, shall be eligible to vote. They must have been active as baseball writers and members of the Association for a period beginning at least ten (10) years prior to the date of election in which they are voting.

3. Eligible Candidates -- Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:
      A. A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning twenty (20) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election. 
      B. Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3 (A). 
      C. Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball. 
      D. In case of the death of an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five (5) full years, a candidate who is otherwise eligible shall be eligible in the next regular election held at least six (6) months after the date of death or after the end of the five (5) year period, whichever occurs first. 
      E. Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.

4. Method of Election: 
      A. BBWAA Screening Committee — A Screening Committee consisting of baseball writers will be appointed by the BBWAA. This Screening Committee shall consist of six members, with two members to be elected at each Annual Meeting for a three-year term. The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee. 
      B. Electors may vote for as few as zero (0) and as many as ten (10) eligible candidates deemed worthy of election. Write-in votes are not permitted. 
      C. Any candidate receiving votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of the ballots cast shall be elected to membership in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted. 

7. Time of Election: The duly authorized representatives of the BBWAA shall prepare, date and mail ballots to each elector no later than the 15th day of January in each year in which an election is held. The elector shall sign and return the completed ballot within twenty (20) days. The vote shall then be tabulated by the duly authorized representatives of the BBWAA.

8. Certification of Election Results: The results of the election shall be certified by a representative of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and an officer of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. The results shall be transmitted to the Commissioner of Baseball. The BBWAA and National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. shall jointly release the results for publication.

9. Amendments: The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time ("BBWAA Election Rules," n.d.).

 

     Rule 5, which says, “voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played ("BBWAA Election Rules," n.d.)” turns out to be the most relevant topic to the thesis.

     “It was only when it was realized by the Cooperstown guardians that there was a great danger (Pete) Rose (Appendix A) might be elected to the Hall while banned from baseball that the rules were amended (in 1989) (Vass, 2008)” to include “Rule 3 (E). Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.”

     There have been extenuating circumstances in the Hall of Fame voting in the past to ignore one of the most important qualifications under the “Eligible Candidates” heading.  “3.C. Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election ("BBWAA Election Rules," n.d.).”

     For Roberto Clemente (Appendix A), the “Baseball Writers Association of America held a special election and the mandatory five-year waiting period for the Hall of Fame was waived. On Aug. 6, 1973… (he) was posthumously inducted into the Hall (Schwartz, "Clemente," n.d.).”  To date, Clemente is the only player to have a special election called for.

     When it comes time to sit and fill out the Hall of Fame ballots, many of the voters ignore on-field accomplishments and replace it with character of the player instead.  Dave Parker (Appendix A), former outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, admitted that he would not be surprised if he never got inducted because of his drug use in the 1980’s (Lackey, 2009).

     “It's the Baseball Hall of Fame. That's all. Are people coming to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame without some of the greatest players of the last 20 years? Will people still view it seriously (Posnanski, 2009)?”

     "Could he play or couldn't he play (Posnanski, 2009)?"  Negro Leagues player, manager, scout and spokesman Buck O'Neil (Appendix A) asked. "That's what matters (Posnanski, 2009).”