Board chairman Jane Forbes Clark and vice chairman Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman, said on a conference phone call on Feb. 27, the day it was announced that no one was elected this year, that the process by which the Veterans Committee operates may undergo a revision and would be discussed at the March 13 meeting. The board also meets every induction weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"We are disappointed that no one has been elected after three cycles of voting," Clark said that day. "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 current system, which began its revamping two months prior to the election of the Pirates' Bill Mazeroski in 2001, calls for the living Hall of Famers, as well as Ford C. Frick Award winners for broadcasting and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners for writing, to vote on two ballots -- one for players every other year and one for executives, managers and umpires every four years.
No players were elected by the Veterans Committee in 2003, '05 or '07, and no one from the composite ballot was elected in '03 or '07.
As in the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot, a 75-percent plurality is required for election. Morgan said last month that he would not favor lowering that standard for the Veterans Committee, and it is unlikely that any percentage lower than 75 would be acceptable to the board.
Former third baseman Ron Santo received the most votes on this year's players ballot with 57, but he was five votes shy of the required 75 percent. Former umpire Doug Harvey was the leading vote getter on the composite ballot, but he was nine votes short of election.
Candidates are selected by a BBWAA-appointed Screening Committee of 60 writers, two from each of the 20 Major League cities with one team and four each from the five regions with two teams. Each writer is 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 selects five players, two of whom were not selected by the BBWAA Screening Committee this year and were integrated into the final list.
The list of 200 players and 60 managers, umpires and executives were 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 at the Giamatti Research Center in Cooperstown. The original list contained more than 1,400 Major Leaguers who played in at least 10 seasons, up to and including 1985.
The Hall views the Veterans Committee as a sort of appellate court allowing players a second chance at the Hall. The composite ballot, however, includes those who have never been part of any election process.
Morgan admitted that Hall of Fame players on the Veterans Committee have a harder time judging those on 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."
The board may consider having Hall of Famers vote for players only, and perhaps reduce the size of the ballots. The composite ballot could be voted on by a separate committee that would include Frick and Spink Award winners.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.