Pre-Integration vote yields no Hall inductees
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the second consecutive year, a Veterans Committee for the National Baseball Hall of Fame did not elect any of the 10 candidates on its ballot, Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark announced on Monday.
This year it was the 16-person Pre-Integration Committee, which evaluates players, managers, executives, umpires and pioneers whose careers all began before Jackie Robinson integrated the Major Leagues in 1947.
Last year, it was the Golden Era Committee, which evaluates candidates whose careers encompassed all or part of 1947-72, that did not elect anyone from a ballot that included Dick Allen, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Gil Hodges.
But this is the way the committee era system is supposed to be working, Clark said.
"I think the process is working very well," she said after the announcement on the first day of the Winter Meetings. "We think this went as well as it could and the process was good."
Doc Adams, widely credited for creating the position of shortstop while playing for the New York Knickerbockers in the 1840s and '50s, received votes on 10 of 16 ballots for a percentage of 62.5, while 19th-century players Bill Dahlen and Harry Stovey each received votes on eight of the 16 ballots (50 percent). To earn election, candidates need to be named on at least 12 -- 75 percent -- of all ballots cast.
Cardinals owner Sam Breadon, shortstop Marty Marion, pitchers Wes Ferrell and Bucky Walters, Reds president August "Garry" Herrmann, first baseman Frank McCormick and 19th-century St. Louis Browns owner Chris von der Ahe all garnered three or fewer votes.
Last year on the Golden Era Committee balloting, Oliva and Allen were one vote shy of election and Kaat two. At the time, there was a lot of disappointment and anger among the 16 committee members for not electing anyone, with Hall of Famers Jim Bunning and Ferguson Jenkins being the most vocal. Not so this time around, though, as the committee spent the better part of nine hours on Sunday discussing the candidates.
"There was a thorough vetting of everyone on the ballot," said Bert Blyleven, one of four Hall of Famers along with Joe Niekro, Pat Gillick and Bobby Cox on this year's committee. "We spent a lot of time on all 10 candidates. We were in a locked room, in a vault, yesterday and we talked about each individual. And as the meeting adjourned, we voted."
"It was great. It was my first committee," said Cox, the former Braves manager who was elected two years ago by the post-1972 Expansion Era Committee along with contemporaries Joe Torre and Tony La Russa. "I enjoyed it. It was in depth. I mean, the historians have all the information and everything, clippings out of newspapers from the 1800s, the whole bit."
The committees change in composition every year, but Blyleven was a member of the Pre-Integration Committee that in 2012 elected 19th-century catcher Deacon White, umpire Hank O'Day and Yankees seminal owner Jacob Ruppert.
"We did fine back then," Blyleven added. "I think this just shows how hard it is to get in."
It's certainly not the end of the week for the Hall of Fame, which is just beginning its awards and induction season.
On Tuesday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce its annual winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for a noteworthy career in baseball writing. And on Wednesday, the Hall will announce its winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for meritorious service to baseball broadcasting. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and late Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher are returnees to the Spink ballot.
The 10 finalists for the 2016 Frick Award are all from the Broadcasting Dawn Era, which began with the first baseball broadcast and ended in the 1950s. The candidates are Jack Graney, Harry Heilmann, Al Helfer, France Laux, Tom Manning, Graham McNamee, Rosey Rowswell, Hal Totten, Ty Tyson and Bert Wilson.
At the same time, approximately 475 eligible members of the BBWAA are pondering their choices among players largely now with 10 years of eligibility. Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman are the most notable first-timers on that ballot, with Mike Piazza having a chance to be elected in his fourth year.
Writers must submit their ballots by Dec. 21, and an announcement of any electees will be made in New York on Jan. 6.
Anyone elected from all the above ballots to the Class of 2016 will be honored or inducted during ceremonies to be staged in Cooperstown, N.Y., on the weekend of July 23-24.
It should be noted that since the current trio of Veterans Committees was introduced in 2010, only two players have been elected: White and Ron Santo, chosen in 2011 by the Golden Era Committee.
"It's tough. The process is meant to be tough," Clark said. "As I remind everybody, just one percent of all of the [18,000] men who have played Major League Baseball have a plaque in Cooperstown. It's meant to be a high honor."