For 15 years, the number of Negro Leagues legends in the National Baseball Hall of Fame has sat at 35. In 2022, the Hall will once again consider players who were excluded from playing in the American and National Leagues because of their race.
Both the Early Baseball Era Committee, which will consider candidates whose greatest contributions to the game came prior to 1950, and the Golden Days Era Committee (1950-69) will meet for the first time at the 2021 Winter Meetings -- with players from the Negro Leagues expected to be included on the ballots.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors has convened a group of five distinguished Negro League historians -- Gary Ashwill, Adrian Burgos Jr., Phil Dixon, Leslie Heaphy and Claire Smith -- as well as 10 members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who have previously served on the Historical Overview Committee. Major League Baseball Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig, himself a 2017 Hall of Fame inductee, will serve as the non-voting chairman of the Special Early Baseball Overview Committee. Members of the voting Committees are yet to be announced.
“The Early Baseball Era Committee ballot will be open to all who made their greatest impact on the game prior to 1950, including both Negro Leaguers and non-Negro Leaguers alike,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Since the induction of Satchel Paige in 1971, the Hall of Fame has included Negro Leaguers among the legends of the game celebrated within our Plaque Gallery. In light of Major League Baseball’s decision last December to recognize a number of Negro Leagues as Major Leagues, it is important that those who were barred from participating in the American and National Leagues be evaluated again for potential Hall of Fame election.”
Negro Leagues players were last considered for Hall of Fame honors in 2006, when the Special Committee on Negro Leagues voted to elect 17 Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues players into the Hall. Following that election, the Hall of Fame "indicated that that would be the final election for those who performed in the Negro Leagues unless new research came out that would warrant another look," former Hall president Jeff Idelson said in a 2016 interview.
The only two living candidates at the time of the February 2006 vote, Buck O’Neil, a first baseman and later manager who spent the majority of his career with the Kansas City Monarchs, and Minnie Miñoso, who played four seasons for the New York Cubans before debuting with Cleveland as the first Black Cuban player in the Majors and later becoming the first black player in White Sox history, will each be considered for possible posthumous elections. O’Neil passed away at the age of 94 in October 2006. Miñoso died at 89 in 2015.