Character, Sportsmanship, Integrity Long Included in Formal Rules for Election

Integrity, sportsmanship and character. 

Since the earliest origins of the election process, these three terms have been central to the criteria provided to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame voters by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors. 

The BBWAA was entrusted with the exclusive voting percentage with the first election, held in 1936. Alexander Cleland, who was instrumental in the voting process at its origins, listed general rules for voters to consider that “those worthy of Hall of Fame election should be selected from the ranks for ability, character, and their general contribution to base ball in all respects,” according to an August 1944 memo from Hall of Fame treasurer Paul Kerr. 

Later in 1944, when the Hall of Fame adopted the first formal rules for election, which were implemented for 1945, the Committee for Hall of Fame election authorized the BBWAA to consider candidates “on the basis of playing ability, sportsmanship, character, their contribution to the teams on which they played and to baseball in general.” 

In 1945, as the Rules were altered again in time for elections beginning in 1946, the Hall of Fame’s criteria for election became even more defined. “They shall be chosen on the basis of playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, their contributions to the team on which they played and to baseball in general.” 

While the necessary votes on 75 percent of all ballots cast has been required for election from the beginning, so too has mattered integrity, sportsmanship and character as inclusions for Hall of Fame consideration. Slight modifications have transpired, but the determinants for Hall of Fame review has maintained and endured.