National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, operated by private interests serving as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, the display of baseball-related artifacts and exhibits, and the honoring of persons who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport. The Hall's motto is "Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations".
The word Cooperstown is often used as shorthand (or a metonym) for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Hall of Fame was dedicated on June 12, 1939. Stephen Carlton Clark was owner of a local hotel and sought to bring tourists to Cooperstown, which had been suffering economically when the Great Depression significantly reduced the local tourist trade and Prohibition devastated the local hops industry. His granddaughter, Jane Forbes Clark, is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors. The erroneous claim that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, a claim made by former National League president Abraham G. Mills and his 1905 Mills Commission, was instrumental in the early marketing of the Hall.
An $8 million library and research facility opened in 1994. Dale Petroskey became the organization's president in 1999.
In 2002, Baseball As America was launched, a traveling exhibit that toured ten American museums over six years. The Hall of Fame has also sponsored educational programming on the Internet to bring the Hall of Fame to schoolchildren who might not visit. The Hall and Museum completed a series of renovations in spring 2005. The Hall of Fame also presents an annual exhibit at FanFest at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Jeff Idelson replaced Petroskey as president on April 16, 2008. He had been acting as president since March 25, 2008, when his predecessor was forced to resign for "fail[ing] to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility" while making "judgments that were not in the best interest of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum."
Among baseball fans, "Hall of Fame" means not only the museum and facility in Cooperstown, New York, but the pantheon of players, managers, umpires, executives, and pioneers who have been enshrined in the Hall. The first five men elected were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, named in 1936. As of January 2011, 295 individuals had been elected to the Hall of Fame, including 205 former Major League players, 35 Negro Leaguers, 19 managers, 9 umpires, and 27 pioneers, executives, and organizers. The newest members are Andre Dawson, umpire Doug Harvey and manager Whitey Herzog; the induction class of 2011, which will enter the Hall in July of that year, will consist of players Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven plus executive Pat Gillick. In addition to honoring Hall of Fame inductees, the National Baseball Hall of Fame has presented 34 men with the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting,[ and 61 with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing. While Frick and Spink Award honorees are not members of the Hall of Fame, they are recognized in an exhibit in the Hall of Fame's library.
Players are currently inducted into the Hall of Fame through election by either the Baseball Writers Association of America (or BBWAA), or the Veterans Committee, which now consists of three subcommittees, each of which considers and votes for candidates from a separate era of baseball. Five years after retirement, any player with 10 years of major league experience who passes a screening committee (which removes from consideration players of clearly lesser qualification) is eligible to be elected by BBWAA members with 10 years' membership or more. From a final ballot typically including 25–40 candidates, each writer may vote for up to 10 players; until the late 1950s, voters were advised to cast votes for the maximum 10 candidates. Any player named on 75% or more of all ballots cast is elected. A player who is named on fewer than 5% of ballots is dropped from future elections. In some instances, the screening committee had restored their names to later ballots, but in the mid-1990s, dropped players were made permanently ineligible for Hall of Fame consideration, even by the Veterans Committee. A 2001 change in the election procedures restored the eligibility of these dropped players; while their names will not appear on future BBWAA ballots, they may be considered by the Veterans Committee.
Under special circumstances, certain players may be deemed eligible for induction even though they have not met all requirements. Addie Joss was elected in 1978, despite only playing nine seasons before he died of meningitis. Additionally, if an otherwise eligible player dies before his fifth year of retirement, then that player may be placed on the ballot at the first election at least six months after his death. Roberto Clemente's induction in 1973 set the precedent when the writers chose to put him up for consideration after his death on New Year's Eve, 1972.
The five-year waiting period was established in 1954 after an evolutionary process. In 1936 all players were eligible, including active ones. From the 1937 election until the 1945 election, there was no waiting period, so any retired player was eligible, but writers were discouraged from voting for current major leaguers. Since there was no formal rule preventing a writer from casting a ballot for an active player, the scribes did not always comply with the informal guideline; Joe DiMaggio received a vote in 1945, for example. From the 1946 election until the 1954 election, an official one-year waiting period was in effect. (DiMaggio, for example, retired after the 1951 season and was first eligible in the 1953 election.) The modern rule establishing a wait of five years was passed in 1954, although an exception was made for Joe DiMaggio because of his high level of previous support, thus permitting him to be elected within four years of his retirement. Contrary to popular belief, no formal exception was made for Lou Gehrig, other than to hold a special one-man election for him. There was no waiting period at that time and Gehrig met all other qualifications, so he would have been eligible for the next regular election after he retired during the 1939 season, but the BBWAA decided to hold a special election at the 1939 Winter Meetings in Cincinnati, specifically to elect Gehrig (most likely because it was known that he was terminally ill, making it uncertain that he would live long enough to see another election). Nobody else was on that ballot, and the numerical results have never been made public. Since no elections were held in 1940 or 1941, the special election permitted Gehrig to enter the Hall while still alive.
If a player fails to be elected by the BBWAA within 20 years of his retirement from active play, he may be selected by the Veterans Committee. Following the most recent changes to the election process for that body made in 2010, it is now responsible for electing all otherwise eligible candidates who are not eligible for the BBWAA ballot—both long-retired players and non-playing personnel (managers, umpires, and executives). With these changes, each candidate can now be considered once every three years. A more complete discussion of the new process is available below.
From 2008 to 2010, following changes made by the Hall in July 2007, the main Veterans Committee, then made up of living Hall of Famers, voted only on players whose careers began in 1943 or later. These changes also established three separate committees to select other figures:
One committee voted on managers and umpires for induction in every even-numbered year. This committee voted only twice— in 2007 for induction in 2008 and in 2009 for induction in 2010.
One committee voted on executives and builders for induction in every even-numbered year. This committee conducted its only two votes in the same years as the managers/umpires committee.
The pre–World War II players committee was intended to vote every five years on players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier. It conducted its only vote as part of the election process for induction in 2009.
Players of the Negro Leagues have also been considered at various times, beginning in 1971. In 2005 the Hall completed a study on African American players between the late 19th century and the integration of the major leagues in 1947, and conducted a special election for such players in February 2006; seventeen figures from the Negro Leagues were chosen in that election, in addition to the eighteen previously selected. Following the 2010 changes, Negro Leagues figures will primarily be considered for induction alongside other figures from the 1871–1946 era, called the "Pre-Integration Era" by the Hall.
Predictably, the selection process catalyzes endless debate among baseball fans over the merits of various candidates. Even players already elected remain for years the subjects of discussions as to whether their elections were deserved or in error. For example, Bill James' book Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame? goes into detail about who he believes does and does not belong in the Hall of Fame.
Changes to Veterans Committee process
The actions and composition of the Veterans Committee have been at times controversial, with occasional selections of contemporaries and teammates of the committee members over seemingly more worthy candidates.
In 2001, the Veterans Committee was reformed to comprise the living Hall of Fame members and other honorees. The revamped Committee held three elections—in 2003 and 2007 for both players and non-players, and in 2005 for players only. No individual was elected in that time, sparking criticism among some observers who expressed doubt whether the new Veterans Committee would ever elect a player. The Committee members – most of whom were Hall members – were accused of being reluctant to elect new candidates in the hope of heightening the value of their own selection. After no one was selected for the third consecutive election in 2007, Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt noted, "The same thing happens every year. The current members want to preserve the prestige as much as possible, and are unwilling to open the doors." In 2007, the committee and its selection processes were again reorganized; the main committee then included all living members of the Hall, and voted on a reduced number of candidates from among players whose careers began in 1943 or later. Separate committees, including sportswriters and broadcasters, would select umpires, managers and executives, as well as players from earlier eras.
In the first election to be held under the 2007 revisions, two managers and three executives were elected in December 2007 as part of the 2008 election process. The next Veterans Committee elections for players were held in December 2008 as part of the 2009 election process; the main committee did not select a player, while the panel for pre–World War II players elected Joe Gordon in its first and ultimately only vote. The main committee voted as part of the election process for inductions in odd-numbered years, while the pre-WWII panel would vote every five years, and the panel for umpires, managers, and executives voted as part of the election process for inductions in even-numbered years.
Further changes to the Veterans Committee process were announced by the Hall on July 26, 2010, effective with the 2011 election.
All individuals eligible for induction but not eligible for BBWAA consideration will now be considered on a single ballot, grouped by the following eras in which they made their greatest contributions:
Pre-Integration Era (1871–1946)
Golden Era (1947–1972)
Expansion Era (1973 and later)
The Hall will use the BBWAA's Historical Overview Committee to formulate the ballots for each era, consisting of 12 individuals for the Expansion Era and 10 for the other eras. The Hall's board of directors will select a committee of 16 voters for each era, made up of Hall of Famers, executives, baseball historians, and media members. Each committee will meet and vote at the Baseball Winter Meetings once every three years. The Expansion Era committee held its first vote in 2010 for 2011 induction, with longtime general manager Pat Gillick becoming the first individual elected under the new procedure. The Golden Era committee will vote in 2011 for the induction class of 2012, and the Pre-Integration Era committee will vote in 2012 for induction in 2013. Subsequent elections will rotate among the three committees in that order.
Players with multiple teams
While the text on a player's plaque lists all of teams for which the player was a member, inductees are depicted wearing the cap of a specific team, or, in some cases, wearing a cap without a logo. The Hall selects the logo "based on where that player makes his most indelible mark." Although the Hall always made the final decision on which logo was shown, until 2001 the Hall deferred to the wishes of players whose careers were linked with multiple teams. Some examples of honorees associated with multiple teams are the following:
Frank Robinson: Robinson chose to have the Baltimore Orioles cap displayed on his plaque, although he had played ten seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and six seasons with Baltimore. Robinson won four pennants and two World Series with the Orioles and one pennant with Cincinnati. His second World Series ring came in the 1970 World Series against the Reds. His numbers with the Orioles and the Reds were very good and he won an MVP award while playing for each team.
Catfish Hunter: When elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987, Hunter declined to choose between the teams for which he played — the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees — as he had been successful with both teams and maintained good relations with both teams and their respective owners (Charles Finley and George Steinbrenner). His plaque shows him wearing a cap without a logo.
Nolan Ryan: Born and raised in Texas, Ryan entered the Hall in 1999 wearing a Texas Rangers cap on his plaque, although he spent only five seasons with the Rangers, while having longer and more successful tenures with the Houston Astros (nine seasons, 1980–88 and his record-setting fifth career no-hitter) and California Angels (eight seasons, 1972–79 and the first four of his seven career no-hitters). Ryan's only championship was as a member of the New York Mets in 1969. Ryan finished his career with the Rangers, reaching his 5000th strikeout and 300th win, and throwing the last two of his no-hitters
Reggie Jackson: Jackson chose a New York Yankees cap over an Oakland Athletics cap. As a member of the Kansas City/Oakland A's, Jackson played ten seasons (1967–75, '87), winning three World Series (1972, 1973, 1974) and the 1973 AL MVP Award. During his five years in New York (1977–81), Jackson won two World Series (1977–78), with his crowning achievement occurring during Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, when he hit three home runs on consecutive pitches and earned his nickname "Mr. October".
Carlton Fisk: Fisk went into the hall with a Boston Red Sox cap on his plaque in 2000 despite playing with the Chicago White Sox longer and posting more significant numbers with the White Sox. Fisk's choice of the Red Sox was likely because of his being a New England native, as well as his famous walk-off home run in Game Six of the 1975 World Series with which he is most associated.
Dave Winfield: Winfield had spent the most years in his career with the Yankees and had had great success there, but chose to go into the Hall as a Padre due to his feud with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
In 2001, the Hall of Fame decided to change the policy on cap logo selection, as a result of rumors that some teams were offering compensation, such as number retirement, money, or organizational jobs, in exchange for the cap designation. (For example, though Wade Boggs denied the claims, some media reports had said that his contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays required him to request depiction in the Hall of Fame as a Devil Ray.) The Hall decided that it would no longer defer to the inductee, though the player's wishes would be considered, when deciding on the logo to appear on the plaque. Newly elected members affected by the change include the following:
Gary Carter: Inducted in 2003, Carter was the first player to be affected by the new policy. Carter won his only championship with the 1986 New York Mets, and wanted his induction plaque to depict him wearing a Mets cap, even though he had spent twelve years (1974–84, 1992) with the Montreal Expos and only five (1985–89) with the Mets. The Hall of Fame decided that his plaque would instead show Carter with an Expos cap.
Wade Boggs: Boggs's only championship was as a member of the 1996 New York Yankees, for whom he played from 1993–97, but his best career numbers were posted during his eleven years (1982–92) wearing the Boston Red Sox uniform. Boggs would eventually be depicted wearing a Boston cap for his 2005 induction, despite his acrimonious relationship with Red Sox management.
Andre Dawson: Dawson's cap depicts him as a member of the Montreal Expos, his team for eleven years, despite his expressed preference to be shown as a member of the Chicago Cubs. While Dawson played only six years with the Cubs, five of his eight All-Star appearances were with the Cubs, and his only MVP award came in his first year with the Cubs in 1987.
According to the Hall of Fame, approximately 350,000 visitors enter the museum each year, and the running total has surpassed 14 million. These visitors see only a fraction of its 35,000 artifacts, 2.6 million library items (such as newspaper clippings and photos) and 130,000 baseball cards.
Baseball at the Movies houses baseball movie memorabilia while a screen shows footage from those movies.
The Bullpen Theater is the site of daily programming at the museum (trivia games, book discussions, etc.) and is decorated with pictures of famous relief pitchers.
The Halper Gallery contains rotating exhibits.
Induction Row contains artifacts pertinent to the most recent inductees and photos of past Hall of Fame Weekends.
The Perez-Steele Art Gallery features art of all media related to baseball.
The Plaque Gallery, the most recognizable site at the museum, contains induction plaques of all members.
The Sandlot Kids Clubhouse has various interactive displays for young children.
Scribes and Mikemen honors J. G. Taylor Spink Award and Ford C. Frick Award winners with a photo display and has artifacts related to baseball writing and broadcasting. Floor-to-ceiling windows at the Scribes and Mikemen exhibit face an outdoor courtyard with statues of Johnny Podres and Roy Campanella (representing the Brooklyn Dodgers 1955 championship team), and an unnamed All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player. A Satchel Paige statue was unveiled and dedicated during 2006 Induction Weekend.
The Grandstand Theater features a 12 minute multimedia film. The 200 seat theater, complete with replica stadium seats, is decorated to resemble old Comiskey Park.
The Game is the major feature of the second floor. It is where the most artifacts are displayed. The Game is set up in a timeline format, starting with baseball's beginnings and culminating with the game we know today. There are several offshoots of this meandering timeline:
The Babe Ruth Room
Diamond Dreams (women in baseball)
Viva Baseball! (celebrates baseball in the Caribbean Basin)
Pride and Passion (Negro Leagues exhibit)
Taking The Field (19th century baseball)
The Today's Game exhibit is built like a baseball clubhouse, with 30 glass-enclosed locker stalls, one for each Major League franchise. In each stall there is a jersey and other items from the designated big league team, along with a brief team history. A center display case holds objects donated to the Hall of Fame from the past year or two. Fans can also look into a room designed to look like a manager's office. Outside is a display case with rotating artifacts. Currently the space is devoted to the World Baseball Classic.
Autumn Glory is devoted to post-season baseball and has, among other artifacts, replicas of World Series rings.
Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream
An Education Gallery hosts school groups and, in the summer, presentations about artifacts from the museum's collection. In the gallery foyer is a TV that continually plays baseball bloopers and the popular Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?" and a display case with rotating exhibits.
The Records Room has charts showing active and all-time leaders in various baseball statistical categories. The statistics charts are posted on the walls, leaving the center space for other purposes:
BBWAA awards: Replicas of various awards distributed by the BBWAA at the end of each season, along with a list of past winners.
A case dedicated to Ichiro Suzuki setting the major league record for base hits in a single season, with 262 in 2004.
A case full of World Series Rings from prior years from the 1900s to present.
An inductee database touch-screen computer with statistics for every inductee.
Programs from every World Series.
Sacred Ground is the newest museum section, opened after the 2003–05 renovation. It is devoted entirely to ballparks and everything about them, especially the fan experience and the business of a ballpark. The centerpiece is a computer tour of three former ballparks: Boston's South End Grounds, Chicago's Comiskey Park, and Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.
Unauthorized sale of items in collection
A controversy erupted in 1982, when it emerged that some historic items given to the Hall had been sold on the collectibles market. The items had been lent to the Baseball Commissioner's office, gotten mixed up with other property owned by the Commissioner's office and employees of the office, and moved to the garage of Joe Reichler, an assistant to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who sold the items to resolve his personal financial difficulties. Under pressure from the New York Attorney General, the Commissioner's Office made reparations, but the negative publicity damaged the Hall of Fame's reputation, and made it more difficult for it to solicit donations.
Non-induction of banned players
Following the banning of Pete Rose from baseball, the selection rules for the Baseball Hall of Fame were modified to prevent the induction of anyone on MLB's permanent suspension list, such as Rose or Shoeless Joe Jackson. Many others have been barred from participation in MLB, but none have Hall of Fame qualifications on the level of Jackson or Rose. A select few, such as Hal Chase and Eddie Cicotte, would be reasonable candidates had they not been banned.
Jackson and Rose were both banned from baseball for life for actions related to gambling on their own teams—Jackson was determined to have cooperated with those who conspired to lose the 1919 World Series intentionally, and Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent spot on the ineligible list in return for MLB's promise to make no official finding in relation to alleged betting on the Cincinnati Reds when he was their manager in the 1980s. (Baseball's Rule 21, prominently posted in every clubhouse locker room, mandates permanent banishment from the sport for having a gambling interest of any sort on a game in which a player or manager is directly involved.) Rose later admitted that he bet on the Reds in his 2004 autobiography. Baseball fans are deeply split on the issue of whether these two should remain banned or have their punishment revoked. Writer Bill James, though he advocates Rose eventually making it into the Hall of Fame, compared the people who want to put Jackson in the Hall of Fame to "those women who show up at murder trials wanting to marry the cute murderer".
BBWAA ELECTION RULES
1. Authorization: By authorization of the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) is authorized to hold an election every year for the purpose of electing members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the ranks of retired baseball players.
2. Electors: Only active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, who have been active baseball writers for at least ten (10) years, shall be eligible to vote. They must have been active as baseball writers and members of the Association for a period beginning at least ten (10) years prior to the date of election in which they are voting.
3. Eligible Candidates -- Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:
A. 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.
B. 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).
C. 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.
D. 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.
E. Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.
4. Method of Election:
A. BBWAA Screening Committee â€” A Screening Committee consisting of baseball writers will be appointed by the BBWAA. This Screening Committee shall consist of six members, with two members to be elected at each Annual Meeting for a three-year term. The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee.
B. Electors may vote for as few as zero (0) and as many as ten (10) eligible candidates deemed worthy of election. Write-in votes are not permitted.
C. Any candidate receiving votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of the ballots cast shall be elected to membership in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.
7. Time of Election: The duly authorized representatives of the BBWAA shall prepare, date and mail ballots to each elector no later than the 15th day of January in each year in which an election is held. The elector shall sign and return the completed ballot within twenty (20) days. The vote shall then be tabulated by the duly authorized representatives of the BBWAA.
8. Certification of Election Results: The results of the election shall be certified by a representative of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and an officer of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. The results shall be transmitted to the Commissioner of Baseball. The BBWAA and National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. shall jointly release the results for publication.
9. Amendments: The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time.
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- Abner Doubleday