Breaking down the HOF Contemporary Era candidates

December 1st, 2023

Expect a big announcement on Sunday at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., as the Contemporary Era Committee will meet that day to determine whether any of the candidates on an eight-name ballot will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame next July.

Four managers, two executives and two umpires comprise the Contemporary Baseball Era Managers/Executives/Umpires ballot, which features candidates whose primary contribution to the game came since 1980. The ballot includes Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West and Bill White.

Any candidate who receives a vote from at least 75% of the 16 committee members will earn induction. The results will be announced live on MLB Network at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Here is an overview of the candidates:

Manager: Cito Gaston
Bio: Gaston was a trailblazer. His impact on the game came after his Major League playing career ended in 1978. He became a respected hitting coach with the Blue Jays, starting in 1982, and helped develop hitters such as George Bell, Tony Fernandez and Jesse Barfield. During the 1989 season, Gaston became the manager of the Blue Jays and ended up as the winningest skipper in their history, with 894 victories.

Significant moment: It was the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1992 World Series. With two outs, Braves outfielder Otis Nixon tried to bunt his way on, but right-hander Mike Timlin quickly grabbed the ball and threw it to first baseman Joe Carter to make the Blue Jays the first Canadian team to win a World Series title. The clincher also put Gaston in the record books, making him the first Black manager to win a World Series title. He guided Toronto to another title the following season.

Manager: Davey Johnson
Bio: Johnson started making a name for himself as a second baseman with the Orioles. He was an integral member of those teams that won four pennants and two World Series titles in the 1960s and ’70s. However, his best season came as a member of the Braves in 1973, when he hit a career-high 43 home runs -- then a Major League record for a second baseman. Eleven years later, Johnson found himself in the manager’s chair for the Mets and became the winningest manager in their history. Johnson also made an impact as a skipper with the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers and Nationals. By the time his managerial career ended in 2013, Johnson had won 1,372 games, five division titles, one pennant and one World Series title.

Significant moment: Johnson was known to be an extremely confident manager -- so confident that before Spring Training started in 1986, he told his players that they were going to dominate on the field. They did, of course, winning a Major League-leading 108 games. The second-place finisher in the National League East that year -- the Phillies -- ended up 21 1/2 games behind New York. With the help of a Bill Buckner error, the Mets defeated the Red Sox in the World Series.

Manager: Jim Leyland
Bio: Leyland never played in the Majors, but he learned his craft as a Minor League manager while in the Tigers’ organization in the 1970s and early ’80s. Then, with the White Sox, Leyland was the third-base coach and learned a thing or two from then-manager Tony La Russa. By 1986, Leyland was manager of the Pirates. In 22 seasons, which included stints with the Marlins, Rockies and Tigers, Leyland won three Manager of the Year Awards (1990, ’92 and 2006), 1,769 games, three pennants and one World Series title, in 1997.

Significant moments: Leyland had two. The first came in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. He won his first and only World Series title in the bottom of the 11th inning, when Edgar Renteria singled up the middle against Cleveland right-hander Charles Nagy, driving in Craig Counsell. Twenty years later, Leyland came out of retirement to guide Team USA to the World Baseball Classic title. He watched his team pound Puerto Rico, 8-0, at Dodger Stadium in the final.

Manager: Lou Piniella
Bio: “Sweet Lou” made his Major League debut with the Orioles in 1964. He won American League Rookie of the Year honors while playing with the Royals and helped the Yankees win two World Series titles, in 1977 and ’78. But it was his impact as a manager that could make Piniella a Hall of Famer. In his first year as manager of the Reds, the team pulled an upset by sweeping the A’s in the 1990 World Series. Piniella then went to Seattle and became the winningest manager in Mariners history, with 840 victories. His best season was in 2001, when he guided Seattle to 116 victories, a Major League record. Piniella also won two NL Central Division titles with the Cubs, in 2007 and '08.

Significant moment: At the end of the 1995 schedule, Seattle was in a first-place tie with the Angels. The Mariners won the American League West by beating California, 9-1, in a tiebreaker game. Seattle then beat the Yankees in five games in the AL Division Series before losing the ALCS to Cleveland in in six games. The playoff run convinced lawmakers to approve a new stadium for the Mariners. The first game at Safeco Field was on July 15, 1999.

Executive: Hank Peters
Bio: Peters spent 42 years in baseball front offices, but it was his years as a general manager that stood out. As the head of baseball operations for the Kansas City Athletics, Peters signed Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers and John Odom to their first professional baseball contracts. Those players helped the Oakland Athletics have their World Series run in the early 1970s. Peters’ best work came as GM of the Orioles in the late 1970s and early ’80s. They won two pennants and a World Series title, in 1983. His best Draft pick with the Orioles turned out to be Cal Ripken Jr., in the second round in 1978. While Peters, who died at age 90 in 2015, did not win anything as Cleveland’s general manager from 1988-91, he traded for Sandy Alomar Jr and Carlos Baerga, drafted Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, and hired Mike Hargrove as manager. All five helped Cleveland to the World Series in 1995.

Significant moment: It came on Oct. 16, 1983, when Phillies center fielder Garry Maddox lined out to Ripken to help the Orioles win their first World Series title since 1970. Eddie Murray highlighted the scoring by hitting two home runs in a 5-0 victory.

Executive: Bill White  
Bio: White’s career moved from the batter's box to the broadcast booth to a stint as National League president. His big league playing career started with the Giants in 1956. White was an eight-time All-Star and drove in 90 runs or more five times in a season. He won seven Gold Gloves and played a big role in helping the Cardinals win a World Series title over the Yankees in 1964. After his playing career ended, White became the first Black broadcaster to do play-by-play for an AL or NL team. From 1971-88, he was one of the voices of the Yankees. White wasn't through when his broadcasting career ended. He was the president of the NL from 1989-94 after replacing Bart Giamatti.

Significant moments: White had exciting moments during his days as a Yankees broadcaster. He called Bucky Dent's famous three-run homer during the 1978 American League tiebreaker game between the Yankees and Red Sox. The year before, White was in the winning clubhouse interviewing Reggie Jackson, who put himself in the record books by hitting five home runs against the Dodgers to help the Yanks win their first World Series since 1962.

Umpire: Ed Montague
Bio: Montague debuted as a National League umpire in 1974 and became a full-time crew member two years later. Drawing his first postseason assignment in the 1979 NLCS, Montague went on to work seven LCS, seven Division Series and six World Series, including serving as crew chief in the Fall Classic four times. Montague also worked four All-Star Games.

Umpire: Joe West
Bio: There is a reason West is one of the most recognizable officials in North American sports history: West umpired the most games -- 5,460 -- in MLB history. He made his National League debut on Sept. 14, 1976. He joined a regular crew in ’77 and earned his first postseason assignment in 1981 between the Dodgers and Expos in the NLCS. In total, West worked five Wild Card games, eight Division Series, 10 LCS, six World Series and three All-Star Games.