National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum president Dale Petroskey participated in an online chat live from Cooperstown, N.Y.
Dale Petroskey: Welcome everyone, and thank you for taking the time to have a conversation. I look forward to the chat.
Wally_Backman: Will the Hall of Fame change the Veterans Committee process?
Petroskey: We believe that having a Veterans Committee is very important, because it's a court of appeals. It gives players who were not elected by the BBWAA an opportunity to be reviewed. We believe that the process, as is, is open, fair and understandable. We've had two elections under the new procedures, and there will be no changes before the next election in 2007.
Brett_Cohen: Out of all former players not yet inducted into the HOF, which player(s) would you induct first?
Petroskey: That's a loaded question! I think that the baseball writers have done a very responsible job of choosing the right players for the Hall of Fame. I also believe that the Veterans Committee, now consisting of the living Hall of Famers, Frick and Spink winners, are also taking their responsibility very seriously and doing a good job. If I were ever king of the world, and if I had one vote, I'd put Rocky Colavito in. Not because he has the best credentials of all the eligibles, but because he was my favorite player as a kid. That makes me like every fan in the world. We all have our favorite players and we all hope to see them honored. That's why the Hall of Fame is special to fans.
db2323: As a lifelong fan of Major League Baseball, I would like to know why fans do not have a say in who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. I don't see why reporters have the total say -- the fans are the people that fund the HOF. I am mostly concerned by the overlooking of Don Mattingly.
Petroskey: That's an interesting question. Traveling around the country, I've heard that sentiment before. It's an interesting concept, and who knows what will happen down the road. The concept discussed recently was that the fans maybe should have some say on who gets on the ballot. But that the writers would maintain the final vote. That's one scenario that has been discussed. The writers have held the vote since 1936 and have done a fine job. As you know, fans have had input as to who makes the Frick Award ballot, via our Web site, baseballhalloffame.org. That has been a tremendous success, because it shows the love so many fans have for their favorite broadcaster.
Wally_Backman: What is the best time to visit Cooperstown?
Petroskey: Any day the sun comes up. Every time of year is special in its own way. If you don't want to fight the crowds, then the winter is for you. If you like to celebrate the beginning of the baseball season, then spring is your best time. If you like to come in the middle of the baseball season and want to celebrate the induction of the Hall of Famers, then summer is the best time. And if you like to be in the Northeast when the leaves are beautiful and the baseball season is reaching its crescendo, then fall is the best time. For those who have never been to Cooperstown, we are 70 miles west of Albany. I don't know anyone who has ever visited who didn't think the trip was worth it. It exceeds everyone's expectations.
Brett_Cohen: What is your favorite baseball team?
Petroskey: The Detroit Tigers, since I was five years old. I was born an raised in the Detroit area. I grew up on Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Mickey Lolich, Ernie Harwell, Denny McLain, Willie Horton, Rocky Colavito, Jim Northrup, Mickey Stanley -- all those great Tigers from the 1960s. In fact, in 1983, myself, my friend Bill Mackay and my brother, Dennis, founded the Mayo Smith Society, an organization of dedicated baseball fans. Check it out at mayosmithsociety.org. I spent many nights when I was a teenager wiping off seats at Tiger Stadium just so I could be at the ballpark.
Frank_Young: I have been one of the lucky ones to get the chance to go and visit Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame a few times. However, I was wondering if the Hall of Fame is planning an "Around the US" tour for those that are not able to travel?
Petroskey: Yes, in fact, we are currently in the midst of a 10-city national tour. Our tour of Baseball As America began in New York in 2002, and since we've been in the finest museums in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, and currently in St. Louis until April 23. On May 19, 2005, Baseball As America, which displays 500 artifacts from our collections, will open in Houston at the Museum of Fine Arts. In December, we'll open in Oakland at the Oakland Museum of California. In 2006, we'll open BAA in the Detroit area at the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village. This national tour would not have been possible without the tremendous support of our partner, Ernst & Young. We believe it's very important to take Cooperstown to the people to share the wonderful artifacts that we have in our collections. We have met so many wonderful baseball fans across the country as a result of Baseball As America. I think it's safe to say that we'll be doing more of this.
Lou_Fontana: How do you see the Hall putting the use of steroids in historical perspective? I am not suggesting you put asterisks on records, but will there be some information placed in the Hall that talks about this topic?
Petroskey: We're early in the process and we'll have to see how it all plays out. In America, one is innocent until proven guilty. We don't know the outcome of this issue. But we do know one thing with certainty: Hank Aaron wasn't on steroids and Babe Ruth wasn't and Willie Mays wasn't. We hope the players today aren't on steroids, because it wouldn't be a level playing field.
Brett_Cohen: Do you think Pete Rose will end up in the Hall of Fame?
Petroskey: First, two things have to happen for Pete to get into the HOF. One, MLB has to place him on the eligible list, and second, the writers have to vote him in. Until the first thing happens, it's a moot point.
Wally_Backman: What is your favorite exhibit at the Hall of Fame?
Petroskey: I love all the exhibits in the Hall of Fame because they have taught me more about that topic. The reason for that is that we have excellent curators and researchers who uncover information and have a talent for telling baseball's story in a compelling way. That said, I think Pride and Passion, our exhibit on African-Americans in baseball and the Negro Leagues. I knew some things about the Negro Leagues, but like far too many fans, I didn't know enough. Thanks to Pride and Passion, I know a lot more about the Negro Leagues, which is a very important part of baseball history.
david_prince: What is the greatest team of all time?
Petroskey: That's a tough question! Some teams were loaded with Hall of Famers and you have to take that into consideration. Certainly the 1927 Yankees come to mind, and also the 1950s Yankees. The Dodgers teams of the 1950s were great, too. They just happened to play the Yanks every year in the World Series. The Big Red Machine was very good. It's hard to pinpoint one team as the greatest team of all time, but there's probably five or six teams that every fan thinks of, including those I mentioned.
Petroskey: Thank you for chatting with me today and I hope to see you in Cooperstown.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.