The Baseball Hall of Fame; Part One of a Series

Photo Credit: Baseball Hall of Fame's Facebook page

Photo Credit: Baseball Hall of Fame’s Facebook page

We here at UpperDeckChatter all have very passionate thoughts, opinions and beliefs regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame, its members, candidates, the Base Ball Writers Association of America, and many more hot topics of recent days and weeks (it’s been awhile now since I originally wrote this piece, but the emotions still run hot, don’t you worry). But before we hash and rehash these issues, we felt it would be important to give an overview of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Who?

    • Let’s answer the “who” question in a number of ways, first by describing those who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
      As of today (this includes the 2014 class), the HOF has 315 members, breaking down as such:

      • 214 former Major League players
      • 28 executives
      • 35 players who played in the Negro League
      • 28 managers
      • 10 umpires
    • The Base Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) has elected 118 candidates since 1936. The BBWAA was founded in 1908 in an effort to assist journalists covering Major League Baseball (MLB) for daily newspapers. Their stated purpose is to, “ensure proper working conditions in press boxes and clubhouses, and to ensure its members have access to players and others in the game so members’ reporting can be accurate, fair and complete.” There are more than 700 active members of the BBWAA currently working for many different newspapers, magazines and major web sites. Their members range from the likes of Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman to Dan Shaughnessy and Dan LeBatard. To be eligible to vote, a writer must be an active member of the BBWAA for at least 10 consecutive seasons.  And as stated on their website, “Writers who are eligible may remain “lifetime members” even once they are no longer active in the BBWAA.” (All of this courtesy of The BBWAA’s “About” page).
    • Various committees on managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players (in all of its forms) have also selected 171 persons, whose place in the HOF is no less than those selected by the BBWAA.
    • There have also been 39 people who have been recognized with the Ford C. Frick Award, which derives its name from Ford Frick who was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Hall and helped foster the relationship between Baseball and Radio, is awarded each year to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball.”

What?

  • The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a “not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of the game and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience, as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime (Source: Company Overview on HOF’s Facebook Page).” The HOF is dedicated to, “[telling] visitors the story of baseball through its three-story timeline, with the majestic Plaque Gallery serving as a centerpiece.” It is home to more than 40,000 three-dimensional items, 3 million books and 500,000 photographs. According to the Hall’s Facebook page, the mission of the HOF & Museum is in part, “[to honor] by enshrinement, those individuals who had exceptional careers, and recognizing others for their significant achievements.”

When?

  • To interpret this question, let’s dwell on a few important dates to the HOF & Museum
      • The Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum opened on June 12, 1939 as more than 15,000 spectators were in attendance as well as numerous baseball dignitaries and representatives for each team. The first class of inductees, inducted in 1936, was Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, men who to this day are among the all-time greats in the game of baseball.
      • The HOF’s induction ceremony is an annual event that occurs during the fourth weekend in July. This year, it is July 25-28.
      • The ballot for induction to the HOF is released in late November and must be returned by December 31st. This year, the results of the election were announced at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT on Wednesday, January 8.

Where?

Google Earth baseball hall of fame screenshot

  • The Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum is located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, just two blocks south of Blackbird Bay (at the southern tip of Otsego Lake), and two blocks east of Doubleday Field. Cooperstown is a village in upstate New York, part of Otsego County, and is located northeast of Oneonta, southeast of Utica, west of Schenectady, and east of Cortland.  Cooperstown is home to a population of just under 2,000 people but has a strong tourism and visitor-based economy that revolves around the Hall of Fame and the rich history of baseball in Cooperstown.

Why?

  • We touched on the “Why” in the “What” section, but for more on the “Why” of the Baseball Hall of Fame, I’ll again direct you to The Hall’s Facebook Page, which outlines the HOF’s mission.
  • Why Cooperstown, you ask? Cooperstown, New York was the mythical home of the creation of the game of baseball by a man named Abner Doubleday. But as my father would want to make sure you are very well aware, this is just that — a myth.

How?

  • You know what? I’ll address “How” in two regards, the first (likely unexpected) will be “How to get there“.
      • For those traveling from Syracuse, Buffalo and points west, Take I-90 east to Exit 30, followed by Route 28 to Cooperstown
      • For those traveling from Albany, Boston and points east, take I-90 west to exit 25A, I-88 west to exit 24, Route 20 west to Route 80, and Route 80 into Cooperstown.
      • From Binghamton and points south, take I-88 east to Exit 17 and Route 28 north to Cooperstown
      • For those traveling either from New York City or Burlington, Vermont/points north, well it’s a bit more convoluted so I’ll conclude this ridiculous.
  • How does one get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Well, you must meet a certain amount of criteria to be eligible. Candidates must meet these requirements:
      • A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning twenty (20) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.
      • Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3 (A).
      • Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball.
      • In case of the death of an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five (5) full years, a candidate who is otherwise eligible shall be eligible in the next regular election held at least six (6) months after the date of death or after the end of the five (5) year period, whichever occurs first.
      • Any player on Baseball’s ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.
      • Those are all straight from the horse’s mouth.

The one question you may be left with is, “Okay, but what is the process by which the Base Ball Writers Association of America elects players to the Hall of fame?” A great question, and that’s why this is only the first part of a series! Going forward, we will explore further how the BBWAA elects players, issues surrounding that process, and the arguments surrounding various players’ hall of fame candidacy. For now, we’ll leave you with a look at some shots from the most recent induction ceremony, which occurred less than a month ago.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also, click here to see Frank Thomas emotional Hall of Fame speech.

– Dylan

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About Dylan Jenkins

I'm a proud Seattlite currently living in Queens, NY. Outside of sports, I enjoy crime dramas - specifically police procedurals - as well as a wide range of music, everything from Top 40 to Iron & Wine, Bob Dylan & Rogue Wave. I am a cat person, which is to say I'm a human who enjoys felines. I have a tremendous sweet tooth that isn't very discerning, and I refuse to observe a number of unwritten social rules.
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