There will now be one composite ballot consisting of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players divided into three eras, rather than four categories with separate electorates.
The new divisions are as follows: Pre-Integration (1871-1946), Golden (1947-1972) and Expansion (1973-1989 for players; 1973-present for managers, umpires and executives).
The changes are part of the Hall's desire to ensure that all deserving candidates receive their chance, while still maintaining the high standards of Cooperstown's hallowed halls.
"The procedures to consider the candidacies of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players have continually evolved since the first Hall of Fame election in 1936," said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election."
There will be one ballot for all managers, umpires, execs and long-retired players considered in each era. The Expansion Era ballot will contain 12 names, while the Golden and Pre-Integration ballots will have 10 candidates each. The era distinctions will be assigned based on the time of the candidate's greatest contribution.
To be elected to the Hall, a candidate must receive at least 75 percent of votes from a voting committee comprised of 16 members appointed by the Board of Directors each year. The committee will be made up of Hall of Fame members, Major League executives and historians/media members.
One election will be held each year at the annual Winter Meetings, but the eras rotate, resulting in one era per year. The Expansion era will be first, followed by the Golden Era election in 2011 and the Pre-Integration Era election in 2012.
The new rules take effect immediately and will be put into practice at the first election at this year's Winter Meetings, to be held on December 5, 2010, in Orlando, Fla., with the Expansion Era up first.
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.