Thursday, December 2, 2010

Will New System Help Get Miller and Steinbrenner to Hall?

      By Ross Newhan

      The impact of a new voting procedure in the Hall of Fame's veterans category will be determined this weekend when a 16 member committee composed of executives, writers and Hall of Fame players votes on 12 candidates as selected by a historical overview committee.

      The 16 member committee will meet and vote Sunday in Orlando, Fla. with results announced Monday morning as a prelude to baseball's annual winter meetings starting in that city the same day.

     Any candidate receiving 75 % of the votes will be inducted during the annual Cooperstown ceremonies in July of next year.

     The Hall has been experimenting with the veterans process for several years, attempting to find an equitable system that, as Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said will allow voters "to compare apples to apples"---the respective candidates basically coming from the same era.

     Saturday's vote involves 12 candidates--eight players, three executives and a former manager--coming from what the Hall is calling the expansion era, ostensibly starting with the introduction of the designated hitter in 1973 through the present. Another voting committee will consider players, managers, umpires and executives from what the Hall calls the Golden Era, starting with integration in 1946 through 1972, and a third committee will consider players, managers, umpires and executives from what the Hall calls the pre-integration era (1871-1946). Each voting committee will meet only every three years, so that the eras rotate from year to year.

    The historical committee, comprised largely of members of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America, selected the following 12 players for consideration by the expansion era electorate:

     Former Players: Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub.

   Former Executives: Pat Gillick, Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner.

   Former Manager: Billy Martin.

   The players had to have played 10 years in the major leagues, and had to have been retired for 21 years or more (obviously none of the eight received the required 75% while they were on the ballot voted on by the general BBWAA electorate each December). The managers had to have worked for 10 years in the major leagues and have been retired for five years. The executives had to have been retired for five years, or were at least 65 years old.

    The 16 people who will vote on the 12 candidates includes former players Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; executives Andy MacPhail, Bill Giles, David Glass and Jerry Reinsdorf, and baseball writers Bob Elliott, Tom Verducci, Tim Kurkjian and myself.

    The Hall has been experimenting with a veterans committee in various forms starting in 1953. Idelson insists that the new committees are not aimed at getting more players, managers, umpires and executives in the Hall or lowering the standards.

    "By comparing apples to apples," he reiterated, "the voters can ask themselves, 'Is this era incomplete without the inclusion of these people?'"

    The 2010 electorate replaces a veteran committee that in 2003-2007 was composed of writers, broadcasters and Hall of Fame players. Then, in 2008, the membership was made up of only Hall of Fame players voting on players who played after World War II. Those committees voted three times and didn't elect anyone, including Miller, who was executive director of the Major League Players Assn. from 1966 to 1982 and probably did as much to change the baseball landscape--economically and otherwise--as any executive.

    It has been suggested that the new voting breakdown will make it easier for Miller and Steinbrenner, the late New York Yankee owner, to reach Cooperston, but Idelson disputed that.

    "It serves no purpose and there is no value in developing a system which benefits only one or two people," he said. "I have complete confidence in the electorate and the sanctity of the process."   

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