Moments ago, the Hall of Fame announced the Veterans Committee voting results, and as the “new VC” has done twice before, they laid a goose egg despite the presence of a handful of eminently qualified candidates on the ballot. Ron Santo, who towers head-and-shoulders over every other playing candidate, toppped the voting at 69.5 percent, meaning he fell five votes short of election. Also topping 50 percent among players were Jim Kaat (63.4), Gil Hodges (61), and Tony Oliva (57.3). Besides Santo, the two other candidates that the JAWS system tabbed as worthy weren’t even close. Joe Torre received 31.7 percent, down from his 2005 total of 45 percent. That’s a tacit recognition that he needs his managerial credentials (four rings, six pennants, 11 divisions, one Wild Card) to get over the hump. Dick Allen received just 13.4 percent of the vote.
On the composite (non-player) ballot, umpire Doug Harvey led with 64.2 percent, and labor leader Marvin Miller finished with 63 percent, 10 votes shy of admission. Miller did gain almost 19 percent over his 2003 total (the composite ballot is only voted on every four years), but at age 89, he’s got a long wait ahead of him; as he’s conceded, “When you’re my age, questions of mortality have a greater priority than a promised immortality.”
Perhaps he should invoke Groucho Marx as well, given the voting body’s country-club attitude of exclusivity. With three straight shutouts under their belt, one might think that change for the VC is nigh, but the words of Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark indicate that the institution is more than content with a process that serves as a measure of self-congratulation for the membership: “Through three elections for players, the process reinforces the selections of the BBWAA, even though Veterans Committee members are giving more consideration – nearly six votes per Player Ballot – than ever before. The process has a 98% participation rate, which even exceeds the high participation standard of the BBWAA. The process shows that a 75% threshold is extremely difficult to attain and that election to the Baseball Hall of Fame remains the greatest honor in the game, and highly selective.”
Meanwhile, one prominent voter has told us exactly how he feels about the type of “new age statistics” which underlie JAWS and the rest of BP’s efforts. Thank heavens he’s fingered us as the ones “undermin[ing] most fans enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein,” while open minds like his guard the game’s history and its most venerable institutions.
Update: as more than one reader pointed out, Murray Chass, the “prominent voter” mentioned above, does not actually participate in the Hall of Fame voting as per a long-standing New York Times policy which also prevents its staffers from voting on annual awards like the MVP and Cy Young.