TAMPA, Fla. -- Results of the latest balloting by the Veterans Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, which holds the key to Cooperstown for worthy old-timers bypassed in prior voting by baseball writers, will be announced here Wednesday afternoon.

A stellar list of 25 candidates awaits the decision of the 83-man Committee, which two years ago proved to be a harsh judge of its peers.

In the first biannual balloting following an overhaul of the process, no one was elected in 2003. Bill Mazeroski and Hilton Smith, the last choices of the old Veterans Committee in 2001, remain the last two inductees under the Veterans program.

Several candidates or their survivors have high hopes of joining Cooperstown's hallowed. Electees are scheduled to be introduced at a mid-day media conference here on Thursday.

Gil Hodges, close for 35 years, is back in the box. The ballot box.

Jim Kaat submitted his body of evidence to a different jury of his peers.

Tony Oliva, 13 Veterans votes shy of the shrine two years ago, got another chance.

So did Ron Santo, whose yearning, and the sentiments of the Windy City, have intensified with each disappointment.

  2005 HOF Veterans
  Committee ballot
click player names for full bios:
Dick Allen (1963-77)
 » Allen interview: 56K | 350K
Bobby Bonds (1968-81)
 » 6 HRs in 6 days: 56K | 300K
Ken Boyer (1955-69)
Rocky Colavito (1955-68)
Wes Ferrell (1927-41)
Curt Flood (1956-69, 71)
 » Flood interview: 56K | 350K
Joe Gordon (1938-50)
Gil Hodges (1943, 1947-63)
Elston Howard (1955-68)
Jim Kaat (1959-83)
Mickey Lolich (1963-79)
 » '68 Series, Gm. 7: 56K | 300K
 » The original broadcasts
Sparky Lyle (1967-82)
 » Lyle interview: 56K | 350K
Marty Marion (1940-50, 52-53)
Roger Maris (1957-68)
 » Maris' 61st HR: 56K | 300K
 » Listen to the radio broadcast
Carl Mays (1915-29)
Minnie Minoso
(1949, 1951-64, 76, 80)
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Thurman Munson (1969-79)
 » Hits video: 56K | 350K
 » '76 ALCS, Gm. 5: 56K | 300K
 » '76 World Series: 56K | 300K
Don Newcombe
(1949-51, 54-60)
Tony Oliva (1962-76)
Vada Pinson (1958-75)
 » Pinson interview: 56K | 350K
Ron Santo (1960-74)
Luis Tiant (1964-82)
Joe Torre (1960-77)
Smoky Joe Wood
(1908-15, 1917-1922)
Maury Wills (1959-72)
2005 Hall of Fame coverage >

If all 83 ballots disbursed to the committee -- comprised of living Hall of Famers, J.G. Taylor Spink Award and Ford Frick Award winners -- have been returned, induction will require 63 votes -- or 75 percent of the total cast.

Those elected by the Veterans Committee will be enshrined on July 31, elbow-to-elbow on Cooperstown's lawn with Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg, and Peter Gammons (Spink Award) and Jerry Coleman (Frick Award).

Hodges, who totaled 370 homers in an 18-year career that ended in 1963, led on the last Veterans ballot with 61.7 percent of the votes. It was another close call for the late first baseman, whose support on the regular Baseball Writers Assn. of America ballot, on which election requires the same 75 percent, peaked at 63.4.

Oliva (59.3) and Santo (56.8) were the only others to top 50 percent in the 2002 Veterans Committee ballot. Those totals reflected a consistency in their Hall of Fame support, even though their fates are now in the hands of an entirely distinct panel.

During their candidacies on the principal BBWAA ballot, Oliva's support reached 47.3 percent and Santo's reached 43.1 percent.

Roger Maris, whose homer feats are gaining retroactive respect under the current cloud of controversy gathering over steroids, also peaked at 43.1 percent on the BBWAA ballot. The only other Veterans candidates given a score of at least 40 percent from the writers are Marty Marion and Maury Wills.

This second-chance gateway to Cooperstown was overhauled and streamlined a couple of years ago. Previously, a select committee clandestinely considered every eligible name. The ballot is now culled by a wide-ranging screening panel and voted upon principally by all living Hall of Famers.

Under the revised rules, and unlike the previous format, this vote now takes place every other year.

Qualifications are identical to the "main-stage" ballot voted upon by BBWAA members, with one addition: Twenty years must have passed since the player's final season.

A group of baseball historians started out by weighing a list of over 1,400 eligibles, which they pruned to 200 to submit to screening committees of BBWAA and Hall of Fame members. The two groups independently cast votes, which yielded the final list of 25.

And that was the ballot submitted to an electorate comprised of living members of the Hall of Fame (60), broadcasters (14) and writers (eight) accorded Ford C. Frick and J.G. Taylor Spink awards, respectively, and one member who is a holdover from the earlier version of the Veterans Committee.

This is the way they do it at the swankest clubs, of course. The members have final say on who can join them. And clubs do not get any more exclusive than baseball's Hall.

With Santo once again a favorite -- by both sentiment and accomplishment -- of the Veterans Committee, this summer sets up as special in Cubdom. The former third base great could share the induction day stage with Sandberg -- whose No. 23 will soon join Santo's No. 10 among the four uniform numbers currently retired by the franchise.

Santo and Hodges present a compelling case as leading candidates. Their careers intersected in the early '60s and wound down with virtually matching numbers. Santo was a .277 hitter with 342 homers and 1,331 RBIs; Hodges hit .273 with 1,274 RBIs and 370 homers.

Oliva compensated for less power by being a three-time batting champ with a .304 career average.

Santo is one of several scintillating third basemen on the ballot, including Dick Allen (351 homers and 1,119 RBIs), Ken Boyer (282-1,141) and current Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Yet the best power numbers on the list belong to Rocky Colavito, who clubbed 374 homers during his meteoric 1955-68 career.

Distinguished candidates who created havoc not with the stick but with their legs include Wills (586 steals) and Vada Pinson (305).

And no one combined both extremes better than did Bobby Bonds (461 steals and 332 homers).

The worthy former pitchers include Sparky Lyle, who saved 238 games and won 99 others; Luis Tiant, who amassed 229 wins; and Wes Ferrell, who had six 20-win seasons during his 193-win career.

The front-runner among the seven pitchers on the ballot is a long-winded left-hander stepping before the Veterans Committee for the first time. Keep Cooperstown's door open for 283-game winner Kaat, who fell off the BBWAA ballot in 2003 after never drawing more than 29.6 percent of the writers' votes.