Baseball Hall of Fame Gives Stars a Second Chance With New Committee Process

The National Baseball Hall of Fame's Era Committees, which were tweaked last summer to favor modern players, could provide a path into the Hall for "steroid era" stars passed over in the traditional voting process. One of the first beneficiaries? Former superstar Mark McGwire.

Every year, the chorus around the National Baseball Hall of Fame remains the same: Nobody’s happy with how the vote actually takes place, so it’s been subject to a lot of tweaking.

Back in 2013, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose not to admit anyone to the Hall of Fame, in part because the sportswriters voting on candidates were reluctant to admit players tainted by steroid scandals. The next year, BBWAA tightened the rules under which players can be selected. Then, last year, the Hall cut back lifetime voting rights for inactive members of the association.

This year, thanks to another spate of changes, the Hall of Fame is giving a handful of players who were passed over when they were first eligible another chance to get in—most notably, famed slugger Mark McGwire, whose successful record on the field has been marred by his admission that he used steroids during his playing days.

In July, the Hall of Fame Board of Directors made changes to its Era Committee system, which gives retired players who missed their initial window of eligibility a second chance (it also provides a route to the Hall for managers, umpires, and executives). These candidates are not subject to BBWAA voting.

The new committees will focus more heavily on recent eras of baseball, and earlier this week the Today’s Game Era Committee made room for another vote on McGwire, along with players Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, and Orel Hershiser. Managers Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella are also on the list, along with prominent back-office officials John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, and George Steinbrenner. All, with the exception of Steinbrenner, are still alive.

It could be an important path to the Hall for former stars: Any player who missed the initial window but has been retired for more than 15 years is eligible.

“It’s flattering. It’s fantastic. I mean, thank you,” McGwire told the Associated Press after learning of his second chance. “It’s very flattering to have another opportunity to possibly get into the Hall of Fame. It’s exciting.”

Why the shift? According to The Sporting News, the combination of a glut of eligible players and the BBWAA’s resistance to admitting players suspected of using steroids meant a lot of baseball talent has been kept out of the Hall.

“Over the past few years, the Hall of Fame has begun to make changes seemingly designed to shift the decision on the Steroid Era away from the writers,” the publication states.

The Today’s Era Committee will cast votes on each candidate in December. Those who receive more than 75 percent of the vote, to be announced early next year, will be admitted to the Hall next summer.

Baseball slugger Mark McGwire, now a coach for the San Diego Padres. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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