No swift changes to Veterans' balloting

No changes to Vets' balloting

NEW YORK -- Any changes that may be forthcoming in the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee process will not be immediate. After the third cycle of Veterans Committee voting produced another shutout in the election last month, there were indications that the system might undergo alterations, but Tuesday's semi-annual meeting of the Hall's Board of Directors here came to no instant findings.

The three-hour meeting featured lengthy discussions about the voting process, which after a two-year study was overhauled in 2003. Elections are held every two years for players who did not gain election in the annual voting of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and a separate ballot every four years for executives, managers and umpires.

The voting members of the Veterans Committee are living members of the Hall of Fame and winners of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners for writers.

No players were elected in 2003, 2005 or 2007, or from the composite ballot in 2003 or 2007. There has not been a Veterans Committee election since Bill Mazeroski in 2001, the last year under the previous system of a 15-member committee that met annually.

"We are disappointed that no one has been elected after three cycles of voting," Board chairman Jane Forbes Clark said on Feb. 27, the day of the Veterans Committee announcement. "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."

But change apparently will not come swiftly.

Clark, who conducted the meeting, issued a prepared statement that read, "The Board had full and engaging preliminary discussions on the Veterans Committee procedures. The Board feels strongly that we need to take our time out of respect for this important process, and we plan to meet again in the upcoming months to continue these discussions."

No timetable was given for those discussions, but conference telephone calls among board members are not uncommon. Indeed, during the voting period, conference calls among voting members are numerous.

It is unclear at this point what specific proposals, if any, were made during the meeting. It was reasonable to speculate that one issue certainly discussed was whether living Hall of Famers would continue to vote on the composite ballot so that they could concentrate more on the players ballot.

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, the Hall's vice chairman, admitted on Feb. 27 that, "The most difficult thing for me is to look at executives and know how much of a contribution they made to the game."

There was likely talk that the composite ballot would be better served by having Frick Award and Spink Award winners handle the voting with perhaps an additional committee of historians and other veteran broadcasters and writers.

The size of the ballots may have come under discussion as well, with a possible suggestion to reduce them by half. The players ballot contains 25-30 names and the composite ballot 15, chosen by separate committees of the BBWAA and the Hall of Famers. Those numbers may provide too many options for voters in a process that requires 75 percent approval, which the Board was believed to be totally against changing.

The next scheduled Hall of Fame Board of Directors meeting will be during the induction weekend, July 27-29 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Jack O'Connell is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.