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Veterans Committees announce finalists

Veterans Committees announce finalists

Under revamped rules that have now created separate Veterans Committees voting on managers/umpires, executives/pioneers and players, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Thursday the finalists for this year in the first two categories: managers/umpires and executives/pioneers.

On the ballot of 10 combining umpires and managers, former standout managers Whitey Herzog, Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Dick Williams and Gene Mauch, plus umpire Doug Harvey, top the list.

On the ballot of 10 executives/pioneers, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the Players Association, and former Dodgers and Padres executive Buzzie Bavasi, are a few of the highlights.

A maximum of four inductees can be elected in each of those two categories and those, if any, will be announced on Dec. 3 during the first day of the annual Winter Meetings, this year to be staged in Nashville, Tenn. Any living electees will be part of a press conference at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

The actual committee votes will be on Dec. 2, and as is the case on all Hall elections, a candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote to be elected.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," said Williams, who managed the A's to the World Series in 1972 and 1973, the Red Sox to the American League pennant in 1967 and the Padres to their first National League pennant in 1984. "It would be quite an honor. The ultimate. At least now with the way the thing is set up we have a chance."

Johnson, who's currently in Chinese-Taipei managing Team USA in the International Baseball Federation World Cup, thought it was a joke when he was told by an Major League Baseball spokesman on Thursday that his name is on the ballot. After some coaxing, though, he was convinced.

"It's a great, great honor to be mentioned along with those other names by the Hall of Fame Vet Committee," said Johnson, who managed the 1986 Mets to their last World Series championship.

Standout players, who are no longer eligible for the annual Baseball Writers Association of America ballot, won't come to a vote again until late next year. And that will be broken down into two ballots: Those who played prior to 1943 and those who played from 1943 and after. From that point on, players whose careers ended in 1943 will be up for vote every five years, while those who played after 1943 will be nominated every other year.

The managers/umpires and executives/pioneers now will be voted upon every other year.

It should be noted that no player has been elected by any permutation of the Veterans Committee since Bill Mazeroski in 2001. The last manager to be elected was Sparky Anderson in 2000; the last umpire was Nestor Chylak in 1999, and the last Major League executive was Lee MacPhail Jr. in 1998.

During elections held by the re-constituted Veterans Committee in 2003, 2005 and earlier this year, no one was elected, prompting a formation earlier this year of the three committee setup to give the process "more openness for discussion without sacrificing the 75-percent level of votes for election," said Brad Horn, a spokesman for the Hall.

The committee now assembled to elect managers/umpires includes 16 people: 10 Hall of Fame players, three current and former Major League executives, and three veteran media members. The Hall of Famers include, Hank Aaron, Jim Bunning, Bob Gibson, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Earl Weaver and Billy Williams.

The committee now assembled to elect executives/pioneers is made up of 12 members: Two Hall of Fame players, seven former or current Major League executives and three veteran media members. Monte Irvin and Harmon Killebrew are the Hall of Fame players.

As in the recent past, all of the 63 living Hall of Fame players make up the bulk of the committee to elect their brethren. But, except those 12 selected for the other two committees, they no longer have a hand in electing managers/umpires or executives/pioneers.

On this new managers/umpires ballot, each of the seven managers, save Mauch, won at least one World Series title during their careers. The other two umpires to join Harvey -- Hank O'Day and Cy Rigler -- both worked during the early part of the 20th century.

On the executives/pioneers ballot, such top-flight personalities as Tigers owner John Fetzer, Reds general manager Bob Howsam, Royals founding owner Ewing Kauffman, Expos executive John McHale and Gabe Paul, who served as GM with the Indians and Yankees, are part of the Big 10.

Harvey was a National League umpire for 31 years from 1962-1992. On the last Veteran Committee ballot, Harvey was the closest of anyone to being elected, but fell short at 64.2 percent (52 votes). There are currently only eight umpires inducted into the Hall.

On the managerial side, Williams and Herzog came closest, but were far off the mark at 37 and 35.8 percent (30 and 29 votes, respectively).

As far as executives were concerned, Miller was the closest at 63 percent (51 votes), followed by O'Malley, the man who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, who had 44.4 percent (36 votes).

"Just to be named is enough to satisfy me," said Bavasi, who received 37 percent (30 votes) on the most recent Veterans Committee ballot. "I've always believed that the Hall of Fame is for players and not for front-office people. Anybody who's in the game should be delighted to be nominated."

The committee that selected the 10 manager/umpires for that ballot was made up of 11 veteran members of the BBWAA.

The group that selected the executive/pioneers was a subcommittee of the 12 members that will ultimately re-group to select candidates from that list.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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