Just saw that the Hall of Fame has announced that it is again changing the shape of the Veteran’s Committee. It’s something they do every couple of years, apparently because they can. Here’s the newest version.
There will now be four Veteran’s Committees (there were three):
1. Early Baseball. This Committee will cover the period 1871-1949. It will vote once every 10 years. The information (from a Sports Illustrated article and from the Hall of Fame website) indicates this Committee will vote in 2020 and then again in 2030.
2. Golden Days. This Committee will cover the period 1950-1969. It will vote once every five years. The information (from the same article and website) indicates this Committee will vote in 2020 and 2025. This does mean that there will be two Committees voting in 2020 (and I presume also in 2030).
3. Modern Baseball. This Committee will cover the period 1970-1987. It will vote twice in five years. The information (same article and website yet again) indicates this Committee will vote in 2017, 2019, 2022 and 2024.
4. Today’s Game. This Committee will cover everything beginning in 1988. It will also vote twice in five years. The information (yep, same article and website) indicates this Committee will vote in 2016, 2018, 2021, and 2023.
So what do we make of all this? Let’s start by acknowledging that the Hall has no idea what to do with the Veteran’s Committees. They change it every time I turn around (I turn very slowly at my age). If they knew what they wanted to do with the Committees they would surely pick a system and stick with it. Of course much of the problem is with the Committees themselves. In the years since they went to the three committee system they’ve done a pretty fair job of electing managers, owners, and umpires, but have elected only two actual players, Deacon White and Ron Santo. And neither was living at their election, which would have been difficult in White’s case. But it was certainly possible to elect Santo while he still lived.
Secondly, the Early Baseball Committee has the hopeful plan of beginning now in 1871 rather than 1876, thus officially including the National Association (Hello Ross Barnes). I do wish they’d take it back into the 1850s as more information becomes available (Could we hear an AMEN for Joe Start?). Also by doing this Committee every 10 years the Hall seems to be finally acknowledging that they’ve pretty much mined the era for all the people they are going to get out of it. I also find that hopeful. For certain we have enough players from the latter part of that era that we can slow down the number of times we look at the era for the Hall.
I’m not quite sure why they break the era in 1949 rather than 1947 when everybody gets to play (and what difference will this once in 10 years plan make in electing further Negro League players?). There’s nothing particularly monumental in baseball history in 1949 except the arrival of Casey Stengel in New York, and I can’t find anything overly special about 1950 except the Phillies finally win a pennant (first since 1915) and Whitey Ford showed up in New York. I doubt that’s why they picked the year. I guess 1950 must be somebody’s birth year.
The other Committees have much the same problem. What’s so great about 1970, unless you’re an Orioles fan? The year 1969 sees the first expansion since 1901 (other than the Federal League) so why not make the change there? It’s also the beginning of divisional play. And again what’s so great about 1988, unless this time you’re a Dodgers fan? My son the Twins fan might argue that 1987 would be a better year. And why isn’t it all the way to 1989 so it’s a 20 year period? Are they trying to establish 1988 and the rise of the Athletics as the beginning of the steroid era?
Anyway there’s the information I found. Take it however you want. And I wouldn’t hold my breath on any of the dates above. This new Committee system probably won’t last long enough to cover all the dates.