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December 8, 2008

Bobby Doerr

Jane Forbes Clark

Jeff Idelson

Joe Morgan

Claire Smith


JEFF IDELSON: Good morning, welcome to the Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee class of 2009 announcement.
At the board meeting, the voting was split in half so there would be one ballot for those players who played predominately before World War II, and a second ballot for those players who played predominately after World War II. We are here to announce the results today.
We are going to start with the ballot for those who played after World War II, those players who played in 1943 or later. Before I give the results, our dais guests here today, Bobby Doerr, Claire Smith, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, and Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark.
Both Bobby and Claire were on the committee that evaluated the players serving before World War II, and Joe, of course, is vice chairman of the Hall of Fame and a Hall of Famer.
The post World War II veteran's committee is comprised of all 64 living Hall of Famers. They examined the ballot of ten candidates which they themselves screened down to ten from an initial ballot of 21, and all 64 Hall of Famers participated. We had 100% return on ballots. They voted an average of 3.33 votes per ballot. The scale was 0 to 4, and you could vote 0 to 4, and they voted an average of 3.33 votes per ballot.
Nobody was elected in the post World War II veteran's committee election. Vote totals were Ron Santo, 39 votes, 60.9%; Jim Kaat 38 votes, 59.4%; Tony Oliva, 33 votes, 51.6%; Gil Hodges, 28 votes, 43.8%; Joe Torre, 19 votes, 29.7%; Maury Wills, 15 votes, 23.4%; Luis Tiant, 13 votes, 20.3%; Vada Pinson, 12 votes, 18.8%; Al Oliver, 9 votes at 14.1%; and Dick Allen with 7 votes at 10.9%.
This committee is scheduled to examine this slate of candidates that played again after World War II two years from next. So two years from now will be at the Winter Meetings 2010.
If you have any questions about that ballot, we'll take them now.

Q. I know this is an old question, but this is four ballots now. Nobody elected. Why continue the process? You voted on the same people, basically, four times.
JEFF IDELSON: Well, this is, of course, the first reincarnation of the next veteran's committee election. This should go the board of directors when they meet in the spring, their next meeting, and they will review the results of the election, as they do every election.
Obviously we streamlined the process a little bit more than we had. We wanted to create what we believe is a fair and equitable process for players who had up to 15 shots on a writers' ballot, and potentially other opportunities through the veteran's committee. We went from a voting electorate from 85 down to 64, and a ballot size of 25 down to 10. We felt the process was fair. It's something the board of directors will have to look at and decide if they want to continue when they next meet this spring.

Q. Two years ago, Ron Santo was closest. Missed by five votes. If my math is correct, he needed 48 and he got 39, so he missed by nine votes. This might be a question for Ms. Clark, too. Would that trend indicate that this has kind of run its course if candidates are getting further away from getting elected?
JEFF IDELSON: Well, it's a good question, but it's just the first time we have tried it with a small electorate and a smaller ballot.
The fact that nobody earned an election tells you there's no consensus among the players. And I can't say the players don't care, because they voted 3.3 votes per ballot, and all 64 participated. So there's an interest level from the players, and they obviously feel they are candidates worthy of election or they would not vote that way.
The question becomes, how and if do you refine it? And if so, when? And that's something the board will have to determine.

Q. Joe, the Hall of Fame, since they have had the vote, have not elected anybody. Is there a problem there possibly that these players who were so great and so good don't really consider anybody else worthy?
JOE MORGAN: I can only speak for myself. I don't think that's the case. And, in fact, maybe a point the reason Ron Santo went down. There are new people on the ballot each year, new people added, so sometimes they may take away from votes that you cast someplace else.
And, again, I know I'm speaking personally. I feel that there are some guys out there that I believe belong in the Hall of Fame. I think all of the players feel there are some guys out there who belong. The problem is, we can't find 75% that agree that that one guy is the guy, or two guys, or three guys, whatever.
For instance, I try to do this separately. I have a guy that I think deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Someone else has another guy. Therein lies the problem of getting that consensus of 75%.
I don't think there's anyone, the 64 players voted, so that tells you they don't think it's perfect. They don't think there's not anyone out there who doesn't deserve to be in. It's just the problem is trying to find three out of four that believes a single guy or two guys or three guys.

Q. Would you like to see a change in the voting?
JOE MORGAN: We just changed.

Q. Would you like to see a change?
JOE MORGAN: We will discuss it, as Jeff said, in the board meeting. The board makes those kind of decisions whether we continue with this format, change it, or whatever happens to the committee from now on. My personal feelings don't get involved. I'm a board member, and we all discuss it in the board meeting.
JEFF IDELSON: I'd now like to invite Jane to give the results of the pre-1943 ballot.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Thank you, Jeff. Good morning. As Jeff mentioned, the second veteran's committee election was a review of players who began their careers before 1943. The committee met here yesterday, a 12-member committee, which includes media members Claire Smith with ESPN; Bill Madden with the New York Daily News; and retired Atlanta Journal Constitution writer, Furman Bisher; Roland Hemond, the Arizona Diamondbacks; Steve Hirdt from the Elias Sports Bureau; and Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner; Robin Roberts; Phil Niekro; Don Sutton; Duke Snider; Bobby Doerr; and Dick Williams.
This committee reviewed a ballot of ten players who were selected by the BBWAA-appointed historical overview committee which met last spring in Cooperstown.
The meeting involved a very thorough review of each of the ten candidates at the end of which the 12 electors cast a paper allot and could select zero, one, two, three, or four candidates from that ballot.
I have to say, that we could not be more pleased with the discipline and commitment to excellence of all of the voters. We couldn't be more pleased with the process and with the results.
In ascending order, these are the results of yesterday's balloting: Bill Dahlen, Carl Mays, and Vern Stephens. Each received less than 3 votes.
Sherry Magee received votes on 25% of the ballots cast, three votes.
Bucky Walters received 4 votes, 33%.
Mickey Vernon and Deacon White each received 5 votes for 41.6% of the vote.
Wes Ferrel received 6 votes, 50%.
Allie Reynolds received 8 votes at 66%.
And our final candidate is the first member of the class of 2009 for induction into the Hall of Fame, with ten votes and 83.3% of the ballots cast, I am pleased to announce that the former Yankee and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was a power-hitting middle infielder, tremendous range. He played 11 Major League seasons from 1938 to 1950, missing the 1944 and 1945 seasons because of World War II. He hit .268 lifetime, 253 home runs, was the 1942 American League MVP, and a nine-time All-Star. He played in six World Series, was a part of five championship teams. A very deserving candidate, and we are absolutely thrilled that he has been elected to the Hall of Fame and will join any electees which come from the BBWAA election, which we will be announcing on January 12.
JEFF IDELSON: So I think we'll start with a statement from both Claire and Bobby Doerr, the committee members. Claire, would you like to start?
CLAIRE SMITH: Yes, I would. I would like to first thank the guidance and participation of my fellow voters, and I would like to say to the writers that the thing that struck me was the committee's commitment to follow the guidelines of the BBWAA's criteria.
Not only were the statistics weighed and valued, but also teamwork, leadership, and integrity were all-important factors as they are in the voting process.
The one thing that struck me about Joe Gordon was looking at Joe through the eyes of a Hall of Famer who is no longer with us. Larry Doby told us many Joe Gordon stories, and they spoke to the leadership and teamwork. The one story that still resonates me is his first day in the big leagues in 1947 in Chicago, and how he didn't know whether the first African American in the American League would work because of the simple rituals in baseball; would he be allowed to participate, things as simple as warming up.
And not until Joe Gordon walked up to him and said, Kid, do you want to have a catch, did Larry feel a part of Major League Baseball and feel welcome. Now they are both in the Hall of Fame together. So that's a story, and I'm a sentimentalist, I guess. But that story stuck with me for years, and I thought of it very much.
It did influence my thought process, and I'm very happy to see that my fellow panelists agree that Joe Gordon is a worthy player and person. Thank you.
BOBBY DOERR: I had the opportunity to play against Joe Gordon in the Pacific Coast League in 1936, and against his whole career with the Yankees and Cleveland. And playing in Yankee Stadium, back then, you played all day ball pretty much. With the tall stands, there's always a shadow between the hitter and pitcher which made it tougher to hit, and then there were big crowds in centerfield. It was tough. Straightaway centerfield you had to hit it a ton to get it out of the ballpark.
Joe had a home run record, and I think he hit .268, something like that. I feel like you could take 25 points off of Joe's average playing in Yankee Stadium because of the tough conditions for a right-handed hitter to hit in, and a great fielder. I think he was in six World Series. He was a great ballplayer and certainly deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. I'm very proud to be part of this and to see him put in.

Q. Have you decided whether he'll go in wearing a Yankee or Indian cap?
JEFF IDELSON: We just spoke to his daughter, Jane and I did, earlier, so we have not had that conversation. He has two children, Judy and Joe, and we talked to Judy in Idaho Falls. She is very, very excited that he has been elected and something that we'll have to determine. We'll talk to her about it.

Q. If a decision was made for the veteran's committee that a 75% vote is too strong of a vote, would you have to consider that for the baseball writers, too, because you would have to change that percentage if their percentage were lower, also?
JEFF IDELSON: If that were a thought process, you'd have to consider it, but I don't know that that's a thought process right now.
Thank you.

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