Hall's Vets elect no one in 2007
Santo, Harvey lead balloting; no candidate receives 75 percent
Ron Santo inched a little closer to Cooperstown on Tuesday, but came up five votes short of baseball immortality.
Voting by the Veterans Committee for the National Baseball Hall of Fame resulted in another shutout as none of the candidates on the players or composite ballots received the 75 percent plurality required for election.
The former Cubs third baseman received the most votes on the players ballot with 57 (69.5 percent), followed by former pitcher Jim Kaat with 52 (63.4), former Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges with 50 (61.0) and former Twins outfielder Tony Oliva with 47 (57.3), the only players to be named on half of the 82 of 84 ballots cast with 62 votes needed for 75 percent.
The committee, which is comprised of living Hall of Famers, Ford C. Frick Award winners for broadcasting and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners for writing totaling 84 voters, has not elected anyone since the current process went into effect in 2003. This was the third players' ballot, which is voted on every other year, and the second composite ballot of executives, managers and umpires, which is voted on every four years.
The Veterans Committee vote capped the Hall of Fame's election season and finalized the Class of 2007. Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, elected by the baseball writers in January, will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 29. They will be joined by Spink Award winner Rick Hummel and Frick Award recipient Denny Matthews.
Santo and Hodges were also the leading vote getters in 2005 with 52 apiece, or 65 percent. In 2003, Hodges was first with 50 votes (61.7) and Santo third with 46 (56.8).
"That's a shame," said Billy Williams, who was Santo's teammate on the Cubs and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. "I really felt good about his chances."
There were 81 ballots cast for the composite ballot, which meant that 61 votes were required for election. As in the 2003 balloting, former umpire Doug Harvey received the strongest support with 52 votes (64.2). The only other candidate to gain mention on more than half the ballots was Marvin Miller, the first executive director of the Major League Players Association, with 51 votes (63.0).
"I'm sorry to hear that," Yankees manager Joe Torre said when told of the results in Tampa, Fla. Torre, who was up for election for his playing career, received 26 votes (31.7 percent). "I'm not exactly sure what process they use. Don't forget, you've got the old guard and the young guard -- people with different interests. There are names that you pull for, like [Ron] Santo and Marvin Miller. Personally, I'd love to see [Miller] get in. He made such an impact on this modern player, the game itself, and knowing the individual itself it is something that I feel strongly about."
Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark said that while the revamped process was not designed with the goal to necessarily elect someone, she acknowledged concern over three straight shutouts.
"We are disappointed that no one has been elected after three cycles of voting. We said we would go through three cycles before we would discuss possible changes in the process. We're not abandoning the effort. Maybe it needs a little bit of change."
The Hall's board will next meet March 13 in Cooperstown. Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, the Hall's vice chairman, said there would be discussions at that meeting about the Veterans Committee but took umbrage to a suggestion by one questioner that the Hall of Famers themselves may not be the best judges for who qualifies.
"I take offense to anyone saying the players aren't qualified to vote," Morgan said. "I don't think the writers over the years made mistake after mistake, but a lot of the players on this list went through 15 years of writers' voting without getting elected, so why get on the Hall of Famers for not electing someone?"
When asked if there should be a change from the 75 percent requirement for election, Morgan replied, "Do we lower our standards to get more people in? My answer would be no."
One area Morgan acknowledged where the Hall of Famers have the most difficulty is assessing the composite ballot.
"The most difficult thing for me is to look at executives and know how much of a contribution they made to the game," Morgan said. "It is difficult to evaluate executives on the Hall of Fame level."
Candidates were selected by a BBWAA-appointed screening committee of 60 writers, two from each of the 22 Major League cities with one team, and four from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles/Anaheim and the Bay Area, each of which has two Major League teams. Each writer was asked to select 25 individuals from a list of 200 players and 60 managers, umpires and executives. Simultaneously, a six-member screening committee of Hall of Fame members selected five players, two of whom were not selected by the BBWAA Screening Committee and were integrated into the final list.
The list of 200 players and 60 managers, umpires and executives was chosen by the Historical Overview Committee, which consists of 10 writers and historians appointed by the BBWAA's secretary-treasurer and meets every other December in the Giamatti Research Center at the Hall of Fame. The original list contained more than 1,400 Major Leaguers who played in at least 10 seasons, up to and including 1985.