In 2014, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum amended the election rules. Going forward, the maximum years of consideration for a player who meets that criteria is now 10 years. Candidates would then move to the Era Committee system for review in perpetuity. Three candidates who were at that time on the BBWAA (the Baseball Writers' Association of America) ballot in years 10-15 were grandfathered into this system and remained under consideration by the BBWAA for up to the full 15 years. Don Mattingly (15th year in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th year in 2015) and Lee Smith (13th year in 2015) were eligible to remain on the BBWAA ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration.
BBWAA members earn a Hall of Fame vote from its organization, which is independent of the Hall of Fame, by maintaining 10 consecutive years on a baseball beat. Those Hall of Fame eligible voters are required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct. Potential Hall of Fame voters must meet requirements as active members covering the game, with a 10-year grace period for those no longer active. The names of those BBWAA members casting Hall of Fame ballots are made public with the election results; however, an individual’s ballot will not be revealed by the Hall of Fame.
Baseball Writers at Polo Grounds 1911. (standing, left to right) John Wheeler (Herald) and John B. Foster (Evening Telegram); (seated in chairs) Sam Crane (Journal), Fred Lieb (Press), Damon Runyon (American), Bozeman Bulger (Evening World), Sid Mercer (Globe), Grantland Rice (Evening Mail) and Walter Trumbull (World). Seated on the ground is concessionaire Harry M. Stevens (right) and son Hal. - BL-915-2000 (Pach Brothers studio/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
1. Authorization: By authorization of the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) is authorized to hold an election every year for the purpose of electing members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the ranks of retired baseball players.
2. Electors: Only active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, who have been active baseball writers for at least ten (10) years, shall be eligible to vote. They must have been active as baseball writers and members of the Association for a period beginning at least ten (10) years prior to the date of election in which they are voting.
3. Eligible Candidates -- Candidates to be eligible must meet the following requirements:
A. A baseball player must have been active as a player in the Major Leagues at some time during a period beginning fifteen (15) years before and ending five (5) years prior to election.
B. Player must have played in each of ten (10) Major League championship seasons, some part of which must have been within the period described in 3(A).
C. Player shall have ceased to be an active player in the Major Leagues at least five (5) calendar years preceding the election but may be otherwise connected with baseball.
D. In case of the death of an active player or a player who has been retired for less than five (5) full years, a candidate who is otherwise eligible shall be eligible in the next regular election held at least six (6) months after the date of death or after the end of the five (5) year period, whichever occurs first.
E. Any player on Baseball's ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.
A. BBWAA Screening Committee -- A Screening Committee consisting of baseball writers will be appointed by the BBWAA. This Screening Committee shall consist of six members, with two members to be elected at each Annual Meeting for a three-year term. The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee.
B. An elector will vote for no more than ten (10) eligible candidates deemed worthy of election. Write-in votes are not permitted.
C. Any candidate receiving votes on seventy-five percent (75%) of the ballots cast shall be elected to membership in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.
7. Time of Election: The duly authorized representatives of the BBWAA shall prepare, date and mail ballots to each elector during the latter part of November. The elector shall sign and return the completed ballot no later than December 31. The vote shall then be tabulated by the duly authorized representatives of the BBWAA.
8. Certification of Election Results: The results of the election shall be certified by a representative of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and an officer of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. The results shall be transmitted to the Commissioner of Baseball. The BBWAA and National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. shall jointly release the results for publication.
9. Amendments: The Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time.
Ticket for the 1961 BBWAA baseball game and dinner at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City - BL-3100-63a (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)