COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) -The Baseball Hall of Fame's board of directors voted Saturday to cut size of the Veterans Committee and the number of players it will consider for future enshrinement, and also altered the procedures for electing long-retired players, managers, umpires and executives.
Under the new rules, only the 63 living Hall of Famers will cast ballots for players, and a committee of 16 comprised of Hall of Famers, veteran writers, executives and historians will vote for managers and umpires. Previously, past winners of the Frick and Spink awards were allowed to cast ballots, raising the number of voters to more than 80.
A Historical Overview Committee appointed by the Baseball Writers' Association of America will narrow the list of players to be considered to 20 instead of 200, and a screening committee of six Hall of Famers will identify five players. That slate of 20-25 players, depending on duplicate selections, will be narrowed to just 10 names by the Veterans Committee.
``I don't think it (the list) was pared down enough,'' Hall of Famer and board member Tom Seaver said. ``There were just individuals on there that, in my estimation (did not belong). We all have different opinions and we feel very strongly about our opinions. It was almost as if the menu was too big. It makes the Hall of Famers' job easier to digest.''
Committee members will be allowed to vote for four players, and the standard for induction remains 75 percent of the vote.
``We believe these new changes will allow more open dialogue with the voters, a more intense study of the candidates,'' Hall of Fame chairman of the board Jane Forbes Clark said. ``The Hall of Fame standards must remain extremely high. We're not interested in lowering the bar.''
The changes to the voting format came after the last vote by the Veterans Committee produced no inductees for the third straight time.
``It wasn't our job to elect anybody. It was our job to vote,'' Seaver said. ``That's a very important issue. There's an outcry because nobody got elected to the Hall of Fame. Just flip the page. Had we elected somebody, or two people, would there have been an outcry that you're diminishing all that? You still have to get 75 percent.''
Players will be voted on every two years in odd years starting in 2009, while a ballot for managers and umpires will be offered every two years instead of every four years beginning in 2008.
A BBWAA-appointed committee also will narrow the list of eligible manager/umpire candidates to 10. A board-appointed committee comprised of Hall of Famers, executives and veteran writers will review the ballot of executives, but who will sit on that committee has not yet been decided.
The Hall of Fame also made 1943 a dividing line. Beginning in 2009, players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier will be reviewed every five years by a board-appointed committee of 12 Hall of Famers, veteran writers, and historians.
``We have very few players who played with or against those guys, Bob Feller might have, Bobby Doerr might have, very few others,'' Hall of Famer president Dale Petroskey said. ``They were never going to get many votes. It's a very important point.''
The first voting results of the new format will be announced at Major League Baseball's winter meetings in December 2008.
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