July 26, 2005

Hall of Fame Approves Election Process for Negro Leagues and Pre-Negro Leagues Candidates

July 26, 2005

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Board of Directors approved holding a special election of Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues candidates to the Hall of Fame in 2006. The announcement comes on the heels of the completion of a landmark study on the history of African Americans in Baseball, from 1860-1960. Based on the results of that important study, the Board of Directors felt it was the right time to hold a special election.

"The record of the African-American contribution to our National Pastime was largely missing until recently," said Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark. "With extensive research and a statistical analysis now complete, the Board felt it was the right time to review Negro Leagues and pre-Negro leagues individuals with regards to Hall of Fame election. The guidelines adopted will allow for any worthy candidates to have another chance at election in 2006."

Earlier this month, the Board appointed screening and voting committees. Under the guidelines established, a Screening Committee will construct ballots and a Voting Committee will meet to vote on the ballots. Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent will serve as the non-voting chairman of both committees. Frank Robinson, a Hall of Famer and Board member, has been asked to offer his advice and assistance to Vincent and both committees. Any candidates elected by the Voting Committee in February 2006 would be inducted in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend in July 2006.

Written recommendations for inclusion on the ballots from fans, and historians not a part of the committees, will be accepted through the month of October. Recommendations can be sent by e-mail to info@baseballhalloffame.org, or can be submitted by mail to: Committee on African-American Baseball, 25 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326. A letter or e-mail of receipt will acknowledge all proposals. All proposals will be made available to the Screening Committee and a final set will be kept for archival purposes.

The five-member Screening Committee appointed by the Board of Directors will meet in November to develop two ballots: One ballot of Negro leagues players, managers, umpires, executives; and one ballot of candidates who preceded the formation of Negro leagues. The Screening Committee will use the statistics and narrative from the landmark study to determine the ballots. The Screening Committee members include Adrian Burgos, Dick Clark, Larry Hogan, Larry Lester and Jim Overmyer, each of whom contributed to the reports and have a deep knowledge of the subject matter. Complete biographies of the five committee members can be found at www.baseballhalloffame.org.

A 12-member Voting Committee, inclusive of the Screening Committee, appointed by the Board of Directors, will meet in February 2006 to review the final ballots of candidates. After open discussions over two days, committee members will cast paper ballots and vote "yes" or "no" for each candidate. Any candidate with "yes" votes on at least 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame. The twelve voting committee members and their areas of expertise in African-American baseball history include:

Todd Bolton, Latin America

Larry Hogan, overall knowledge

Greg Bond, 19th Century

Neil Lanctot, Negro leagues eastern teams

Adrian Burgos, Latin America

Larry Lester, Negro leagues

Dick Clark, Negro leagues

Sammy Miller, Eastern and Western teams

Ray Doswell, overall knowledge

Jim Overmyer, Eastern teams and 19th Century

Leslie Heaphy, women's history, Negro leagues

Robert Peterson, overall knowledge

In July 2000, the Baseball Hall of Fame was granted $250,000 from Major League Baseball in order to initiate a comprehensive study on the history of African Americans in Baseball, from 1860-1960. The funds were to allow the Museum to expand the scope and depth of its knowledge and historical collection on this aspect of Baseball and American culture.

In February 2001, the Board selected "The Negro Leagues Researchers/Authors Group" research team, led by Dr. Hogan of Union County College (NJ), Dick Clark, and Larry Lester, to conduct the comprehensive study. The three historians led a diverse group of more than 50 other authors, researcher and historians in this first-of-its-kind academic study.

The research resulted in a raw narrative and bibliography of nearly 800 pages and a statistical database, which includes 3,000 day-by-day records, league leaders and all-time leaders. The research was culled from box scores from 128 newspapers of sanctioned league games played from 1920-1954.

With the research now complete, the study includes sanctioned league game box scores from almost 100% of games played in the 1920s, in excess of 90% of the box scores from games played in the 1930s and box scores from 50-70% of games played in the 1940s and 50s, during which time the various leagues began to disband and newspapers ceased to report game information. The end result is the most comprehensive compilation of statistics on the Negro leagues that have ever been accumulated.