"This is unbelievable," said Williams when reached by phone at his home in Las Vegas. "We've been crying all over the house today. It's the highest honor. I just certainly appreciate that. I'm very humbled by it, if I can ever be humbled because you know me."
On the ballot of 10 executives, O'Malley, the Dodgers owner who moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles 50 years ago; Kuhn, the Commisioner from 1969 to 1984; and Dreyfuss, a turn-of-the-century pioneer and owner of the Pirates, headed a list that also included Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the Players Association, and Buzzie Bavasi, who was one of O'Malley's general managers.
"I'm very happy and he would be very happy," said O'Malley's son Peter, who sold the Dodgers in 1998. "He had the greatest respect for the Hall of Fame. He felt it was so important, not just for baseball but for all sports, and not just in the U.S. but for the entire world."
Williams also has a Dodgers tie, having been a utility player for them in the 1950s before the franchise left Brooklyn.
"This is a historic day for the Dodger franchise," Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt said in a statement released by the club. "Walter O'Malley was a visionary who changed the face of baseball forever and we couldn't be more proud to see him earn his rightful spot in Cooperstown. We're very excited for both him and Dick Williams as they join the many Dodger players, managers and executives in the Hall of Fame."
A maximum of four inductees could have been elected in each of those two categories. As is the case on all Hall elections, a candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote to be elected. Williams, 78, is the only living electee. Kuhn is the fourth Commissioner elected, following Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Happy Chandler and Ford Frick.
"I congratulate the Hall of Fame for electing five new members," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I am particularly pleased that former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn is among those who have received this great honor. Bowie was a close friend and a respected leader who served as Commissioner during an important period in history, amid a time of change."
Former 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: One for those who played prior to 1943 and another for those who played from 1943 and afterward. From that point on, players whose careers ended in 1943 will be up for election 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 on every other year.
It should be noted that no player had been elected by any permutation of the Veterans Committee since Bill Mazeroski in 2001. Previous to Monday, the last manager to be elected was Sparky Anderson in 2000, and the last Major League executive was Lee MacPhail Jr. in 1998.
During elections held by the reconstituted Veterans Committee in 2003, 2005 and earlier this year, no one was elected, prompting the changes in the committee setup.
The committee assembled to elect managers/umpires included 16 people: 10 Hall of Fame players, three current and former Major League executives, and three veteran media members. The Hall of Famers were Hank Aaron, Jim Bunning, Bob Gibson, Fergie Jenkins, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Earl Weaver and Billy Williams. Aaron could not attend and was replaced by veteran baseball writer Hal McCoy.
Southworth and Williams each received 13 votes from the 16 members on that particular committee.
"All I can say is that it's about time," Lasorda, a long-time Dodgers employee and Hall of Fame manager, said of O'Malley. "He deserves it. He's a pioneer. He made a tremendous change in the game, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball."
The committee assembled to elect executives was 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 were the Hall of Fame players.
Dreyfuss and Kuhn each received 10 votes from the 12 members on that committee, while O'Malley got nine.
Weaver, the former Orioles manager, called Williams almost immediately after the announcement.
"He was ecstatic," said Weaver. "Now he's got to start worrying about his speech. I told him, 'Congratulations. It was well-deserved.' It's a shame it had to take this long."