The Board of Directors, in its annual meeting Saturday at the Hall of Fame, voted to change the system by which players who did not gain election in the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America balloting are given a second chance at earning induction. It would also separate those on the composite ballot by creating two ballots, one for managers and umpires and another for executives.
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.
"These newest changes uphold our belief that players should have a Veterans Committee review, while also recognizing the unique analysis needed for managers, executives and umpires," Hall board chairman Jane Clark said at a press conference. "We believe that these new procedures and restructured committees will allow for more open dialogue among those who vote, promoting a more intensive study of player candidacies. The Board has always maintained that the standards for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame must remain very high."
That much has not changed. Candidates on any ballot require 75-percent plurality for election. The numbers that will change on the Veterans Committee ballots are the total of candidates, down to 10 from 25-30 on the players' ballot and from 15 on the composite ballot.
"I thought the players' ballot was too big and so did a lot of Hall of Famers," board member Tom Seaver said. "This will make it easier for the Hall of Famers to digest. You still have to get 75 percent."
The major changes were to keep the players' ballot in the hands of living Hall of Fame players, removing Ford C. Frick Award winners for broadcasting and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners for writing from the electorate, and to establish a 16-member, Board-appointed committee of Hall of Famers, executives, veteran writers and historians to vote on the managers/umpires ballot.
The Historical Overview Committee, which consists of 10 writers and historians appointed by the secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA, will continue to formulate both ballots, with the living Hall of Famers taking over as the screening committee from a 60-member group of BBWAA members.
Instead of producing a 200-player ballot to the screening committee, the Historical Overview Committee will, every other year beginning in 2009, provide a 20-player ballot to a six-member independent committee of six Hall of Famers, who may add up to five players. That slate of 20-25 candidates will be screened by all living Hall of Fame members, who will narrow the list to a ballot of 10 players. That ballot will be sent out in November to Hall of Famers, who may vote for up to four candidates with 75 percent necessary for election. Results will be announced at every other year's Winter Meetings.
The players' ballot is also restricted to players whose careers began after 1943. Those whose career began earlier will be reviewed every five years by a committee of 12 Hall of Famers, historians and writers, to be appointed by the Board of Directors.
The managers/umpires ballot, every other year beginning in 2008, will consist of 10 candidates determined by the Historical Overview Committee and presented to the 16-member voting committee, which can chose up to four players with 75 percent needed for election.
Executives, who had been on the composite ballot with managers and umpires previously, will be dealt with separately, but the framework has yet to be finalized, although it is likely to be decided also by a Board-appointed committee. Clark said she expected the executives ballot to start in 2008.
"The outcry was that we didn't elect anybody to the Hall of Fame," Seaver said. "It wasn't our job to elect anybody. It was our job to vote. That's an important issue. Just flip the page. Had we elected somebody, would there have been an outcry that we diminished the standards of the Hall of Fame? It's a mirror image and probably would have happened. There is no way to escape any sort of criticism. To a degree, it is a work in progress."
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.