02/24/2003 9:45 AM ET
Veterans lift the veil today
Results from restructured committee to be announced
Hall of Fame candidate bios
Ron Santo klicking his heels in glee, and Maury Wills sliding up a cloud of dust.
Bobby Bonds ripping and swiping, and Gil Hodges gallantly striding.
Billy Martin storming, Dick Williams plotting, and Whitey Herzog cajoling.
Bowie Kuhn expressing a view, and Marvin Miller expressing the opposite view.
What a parade of legendary names. And this afternoon, the parade for some of those, or others, will lead to Cooperstown.
A new era will begin for the Hall of Fame this afternoon, with the 2 p.m. ET announcement (live on MLB Radio ) of the shrine's newest residents, as elected by the revamped Veterans Committee.
The new Veterans Committee is an august body dominated by the 58 living members of the Hall, who headline the 84-man electorate, which for more than two months has contemplated two ballots compiled by screening committees from a pool of nearly 1,500 candidates.
The Players Ballot includes 26 former players who met standard Hall of Fame eligibility requirements, such as a 10-year career minimum, but through the years missed out in the regular annual election by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Names that jump off that ballot include two-time American League MVP Roger Maris, eight-time All-Star Gil Hodges, three-time batting champ Tony Oliva and five-time Gold Glove winner Ron Santo.
The Composite Ballot features 15 non-players who made their own indelible marks on the game.
Entries on this ballot include Buzzie Bavasi, the Branch Rickey-disciple who steered three different teams into nine postseasons; managerial greats Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and Dick Williams; and two conspicuous visions on baseball's changing landscape of the '70s, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Marvin Miller, founding executive director of the players union.
Those receiving at least 75 percent of the votes, or 63, are elected to the Hall, and will be inducted with full honors alongside Gary Carter and Eddie Murray on July 27.
In that regard, this process is similar to the yearly election by the BBWAA. But distinctions make this new treatment of legacy candidates a jolt of nostalgic air that is expected to energize the Hall.
For one thing, in the eyes of the Veterans Committee, eligibility never expires, regardless of votes drawn or longevity on the ballot. This candidacy-in-perpetuity is a significant gesture to former players, their families and their fans.
For another, the new Veterans Committee no longer holds annual elections. It will consider a Players Ballot every two years (next, 2005) and a Composite Ballot every four years (next, 2007).
This new schedule, in part a concession to the level of groundwork required to assemble representative ballots, makes each election a truly momentous event.
But the biggest change in the Veterans' process is the process itself, which, at the urging of the Hall's board, has been overhauled to make it more public and less mysterious.
Consider the fanfare that accompanied the disclosure of the Veterans ballots in December, sparking a new round of debates among baseball fans who love debating such things.
By comparison, the Hall's former Veterans Committee operated virtually as a secret society. Starting in 1961, a committee of 15 considered secret ballots of 10 to 15 names drawn up by its own subcommittee, and only the names of electees were made public.
"The public didn't understand who was up for consideration. The only time you heard about a candidate was after he was elected," says Dale Petroskey, president and chief operating officer of the Hall of Fame.
"We believe the best way for fans to be involved, and for the process to be absolutely transparent, is to have them know exactly who is up for consideration and how many votes each candidate receives."
Of course, the most revolutionary aspect of the change is the active participation of every living Hall of Famer, from Hank Aaron to Robin Yount.
Joining the players on the voting panel are their Cooperstown neighbors from the media sector, 13 broadcast recipients of the Ford C. Frick Award and 11 print-media recipients of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
The final two electors are two members of the old guard, held over until their original Veteran Committee terms expire (legendary Red Sox announcer Ken Coleman after this year's election, and front-office icon John McHale in 2007).
"The way it was done in the past worked fine," Petroskey says. "We just think that, by opening up the process, it'll involve more people and create greater interest. We think this is the right way to go."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Tom Singer / MLB.com