Selectivity makes baseball's Hall best of all
OK, full disclosure: I am a longtime voter for National Baseball Hall of Fame members, so I'm biased in what I'm about to type.
Only slightly biased, though.
When compared to the glorious one in Cooperstown, N.Y., all of those other halls of fame in professional and amateur sports rank only as pretty good (pro football), fairly decent (college football) or absolutely lame (the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame).
Now, about that glorious one in Cooperstown: It is by far the oldest among its peers, with its first induction ceremony occurring in 1936. That was 23 years before the hall in Springfield, Mass., for basketball and 27 years before the hall in Canton, Ohio, for pro football.
Cooperstown's first class had legendary names such as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner.
Here's why I mention as much: Those who select Baseball Hall of Famers remember the standard of greatness that was established for Cooperstown 76 years ago. Then they note how that standard was sustained for decades afterward. Then they resemble their peers by becoming notoriously selective when voting.
They seek to pick only the best of the best for the Baseball Hall of Fame, as opposed to guys who were just good enough, or who were popular for whatever reason outside of their playing ability.
The voting process for Cooperstown also is transparent, and it is about as simple as it gets.
All 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America receive a lifetime vote, and those voters consider players who have been retired for at least five years.
In addition to judging the playing quality of each candidate, voters are instructed to consider their "integrity" and "character."
Voters are allowed to pick as many as 10 players on their ballot during a given year, and if somebody gets 75 percent of the vote, he is headed for Cooperstown.
That's about it.
All of this especially comes to mind each spring, when those who vote for Naismith candidates embarrass themselves. That's because nearly everything I just said involving the voting process for Baseball Hall of Famers doesn't apply to the Naismith folks.
Who are these Naismith folks?
About the only thing that some people know is that there are a slew of screening committees involved in the Naismith process. In the end, those committees select not only NBA players, coaches and contributors, but American and international pros as well as American amateur basketball players, coaches and contributors.
Then something called an "honors committee" gets involved, and that committee features a bunch of rotating members. Then, in contrast to what takes place among voters for Baseball Hall of Famers, there is a secret vote among the Naismith folks.
If you spent any time during your lifetime dribbling and breathing, you are eligible for induction into Springfield.
Or so it seems.
That said, this week's inductees into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame made slightly more sense than usual.
Sharp-shooting Reggie Miller is a legitimate inductee, with his resume for the Indiana Pacers that was stuffed with accolades. Don Nelson won more games than any NBA coach. Ralph Sampson was a three-time national player of the year during his college days at Virginia. Jamaal Wilkes followed his glorious career at UCLA with another one in the NBA that included four league championships.
There are others of note in this year's Springfield class.
There also are just a bunch of names.
Ever hear of Lidia Alexeeva?
What about Red Heads or Don Barksdale?
Those names don't exactly roll off the tongue like Barry Larkin and Ron Santo. Joining Larkin and a representative for the late Santo on the stage this summer in Cooperstown will be Tim McCarver and Bob Elliott, because they were awarded for excellence in broadcasting and sports writing, respectively.
In case you're counting, that's two inductees and two award winners for baseball's 2012 ceremony, compared to 12 for the Naismith folks.
So much for selectivity.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is closer to Cooperstown than Springfield regarding selectivity and everything else. In fact, there will be just six inductees in Canton this summer, but none ranks with Larkin or Santo regarding name recognition to much of the general public.
Those new Pro Football Hall of Famers were part of a voting process involving a 44-person selection committee. It's a group that consists of a media representative from the geographical area of each of the NFL's 32 teams, 11 at-large delegates and a representative from the Pro Football Writers of America.
That group deliberates -- argues -- every year on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and that group is mandated to select between four to seven new members.
Inductees must receive 80 percent of the vote.
That's a little more appealing process than the madness associated with the Naismith folks.
Still, the voting process for Pro Football Hall of Famers doesn't rise to the heights of Baseball Hall of Famers, where -- if I may modestly say so -- the esteemed voters rarely make a mistake.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.