Thursday, February 27, 2003

No one elected to Hall
by Veterans Committee

By Ronald Blum
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - The first vote of the Hall of Fame's new Veterans Committee finished in a shutout: No one got in.

With Hall of Famers themselves doing the voting, all 41 of the men on the ballot fell short of the necessary 75 percent vote total to gain enshrinement in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman and New York Mets manager Gil Hodges came closest, getting 50 votes in totals released Wednesday, falling 11 shy.

Minnesota hitting star Tony Oliva was second among the 26 players on the ballot with 48 votes and Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was third with 46.

Santo said he was "devastated," thinking this was his time.

"It hurt me. It really hurt me," he said at his house in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I'm not going to kill myself, don't get me wrong. But all indications ... were giving me a feeling it was going to happen.

NL umpire Doug Harvey received 48 votes, the most among the 15 managers, umpires and executives on the "composite" ballot, where 60 votes were required for election.

Former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley had 38 votes, and Marvin Miller, the union head who helped players gain free agency, had 35.

Miller, who didn't think he would be elected this year, admitted disappointment and also said he thinks there's little chance of gaining entry to the Hall in his lifetime. Under the new rules, the Vets won't vote for players again until 2005 and won't vote for the "composite" category until 2007.

"In a little over a month, I'll be 86," he said. "There will not be, under the present rules, another election for four years. Don't count on it."

The last time the old Veterans Committee failed to elect anyone was in 1993. That group, which met annually, had 15 members in most years and was criticized for cronyism. The Hall changed the system after Bill Mazeroski, a career .260 hitter with a great glove, was voted in two years ago.

The new panel included 85 eligible members: the 58 living Hall of Fame players, 25 writers and broadcasters in the Hall, and two members from the old committee whose terms had not expired. Eighty-one returned ballots for players and 79 for the "composite" category.

Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark said she wanted to see the new system go through at least one more cycle before re-evaluating it.

"There really is no thought of changing the process," she said. "We need to see an entire cycle of the two-year wait between the ballots to see how it all falls into place."

Joe Morgan, the Hall's vice chairman and a Hall of Famer himself, said he was "surprised" Miller didn't gain election, then amended that to "shocked."

"Marvin was the guy that kind of changed the landscape for the players, and you figured a lot of the players would vote for him," Morgan said.

Forty-one of the 85 eligible voters on the committee played while Miller headed the players' association from 1966 to 1981, meaning some of that group didn't vote for him. He joked about that, recalling the vote to hire him was 78.2 percent in favor.

"I guess I have to conclude that having done nothing for the players at that point, I've lost ground in the last 37 years," he said.

Santo, who turned 63 Tuesday, was a sentimental favorite. The Cubs broadcaster, a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, had both legs amputated because of diabetes.

"Everyone that's in the Hall of Fame deserves to be there. But there's a lot of us not in the Hall of Fame that deserve to be there," he said. "I really do feel I played the game the way it should be played. I feel like I should be in there."

Also on the ballot were former Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi (34 votes), former Oakland manager Dick Williams (33) and current Yankees manager Joe Torre (29), a nine-time All-Star who has led New York to four World Series titles.

Torre was listed as a player, but voters were told to take his managing into consideration. His total likely was hurt because he remains an active manager - every manager who's won at least three Series titles has made the Hall.

"It's a shame that nobody got elected," Torre said in Tampa, Fla. "There were a couple of guys that I certainly would like to see in the Hall of Fame - Marvin Miller was first and foremost in my mind; a guy I played against Ron Santo; Gil Hodges who was a quality player and manager; Roger Maris to me more than just a guy who hit 60 homers."

Hodges, who died in 1972, was an eight-time All-Star who hit 370 homers, mostly as a first baseman for the Dodgers. He also guided the 1969 New York Mets to the franchise's first title.

Each voter could select up to 10 names in both the player and composite category. The ballots averaged 5.4 votes for players and 4.2 votes for composites.

Morgan said he thought votes could shift by the next ballot, and Clark said the high standards of the Hall of Fame meant that "if they're Hall of Fame material, they'll make it."

"This is not the Football Hall of Fame, where they're required to put in four people," she said.

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