Pioneering leadership may net Hall spots
Veterans Committee ballots to be unveiled in Indy on Monday
In the first year executives and pioneers had their own ballot for induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the Class of 2008, there were three honorees -- the first such candidates to be inducted since 1998.
Whether the Class of 2010 follows suit with multiple honorees, or even any, remains to be seen until Monday at 10 a.m. ET, when election results are announced from the Veterans Committee ballots -- one for managers and umpires, and one for executives and pioneers -- at the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.
That news conference can be seen live on MLB.com.
Whatever the results, the 10-man executives/pioneers ballot will remain a source of conversation as long as players union founder Marvin Miller is on it, and he doesn't even return having garnered the most support the last time a 12-member committee took up the question two years earlier.
That honor belongs to Ewing Kauffman, the late founding father of the Royals, who finished fourth in voting last time behind the three executives elected for induction -- Barney Dreyfuss, Bowie Kuhn and Walter O'Malley. Nine of 12 votes were required. Dreyfuss and Kuhn each received 10 and O'Malley got nine. Kauffman was next with five votes, and Miller had four.
"I would take solace that if I didn't get in this time that with three being inducted [in 2008] somebody is going to fill that vacuum in the future," committee member Andy MacPhail of the Orioles said after the 2008 election was announced in Nashville, Tenn.
O'Malley, the Dodgers owner who moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles 50 years ago, and Dreyfuss, a turn-of-the-century pioneer and owner of the Pirates, joined Kuhn in the 2008 class. Kuhn, the commissioner from 1969-84, became the fourth commissioner inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Those inductees were the first executives to be so honored since Lee MacPhail Jr. in 1998.
The leading returning vote-getter, Kauffman brought Major League Baseball back to Kansas City in 1969, starting the Royals as an expansion club after the Athletics moved to Oakland. He oversaw a franchise that developed quickly into a contender and won the World Series in '85.
Meanwhile, some would say Miller's work as the founder of the Major League Baseball Players Association transcends baseball to sports labor in general. Miller led the MLBPA to a prominence no other sports unions enjoyed previously, and he is rightfully credited for bringing about the system of free agency and other efforts that led to vast increases in player compensation by the time he retired in 1982.
The remainder of the 2010 ballot includes an interesting mix of executives who made significant impacts on the game. They include Gene Autry, the film and TV cowboy who brought the Angels into the Majors; Sam Breadon, whose Cardinals teams won six World Series titles during his ownership from 1917-47; John Fetzer, who owned the Tigers from '56-83 and helped negotiate baseball's initial television contracts in 1967; Bob Howsam, the GM of the Cardinals in the '60s and the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati in the '70s; John McHale, who served as the general manager for the Tigers and Braves and started up the Expos; Gabe Paul, the GM for the Reds, the Houston Colt 45s, the Indians and who also rebuilt the Yankees in the '70s; Jacob Ruppert, who owned the Yankees from 1915 to '39 and oversaw the acquisition of Babe Ruth; and Bill White, the former player and broadcaster who became the president of the National League.
Just as with the BBWAA ballot for players, any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010.
The 12-member electorate for the Executives/Pioneers ballot features Hall of Famers Robin Roberts and Tom Seaver; former executive John Harrington (Red Sox); current executives Jerry Bell (Twins), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and John Schuerholz (Braves); and veteran media members Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Hal McCoy (Dayton Daily News) and Phil Pepe (New York Daily News).
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.