Quotes From Jeff Idelson and Jack O'Connell on the 2013 BBWAA Hall of Fame Election Results

January 09, 2013

The following are quote excerpts from Wednesday’s teleconference following the BBWAA Hall of Fame election announcement.
 

JI = Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson

JO=BBWAA secretary/treasurer Jack O’Connell 

(JI)

The Hall of Fame is the celebratory part of what we do. The baseball writers have been entrusted with the vote, they’ve done a great job, and at the end of the day we’re pleased and prepared to honor whomever they choose to elect. 

Do you have an issue with writers voting on doubts and suspicions as opposed to facts that may or may not be in evidence? 

(JO)

I don’t know that people are doing that. There’s no way for me to know that. I assume that people are using the information that they have and assessing the value of each player the way they do any other year. I can’t get into the heads of 569 voters. I didn’t think there was any pattern in this voting that was much different from what we’ve had in the last few years. 

Should the Hall offer up any guidelines for writers on how to handle the steroid era and is it time to re-examine the voting process? 

(JI)

We remain very confident and very comfortable with the voting electorate as well as the procedures and guidelines that we give the electorate to consider candidates. It’s worked incredibly well. As I walk through the Hall of Fame Gallery everyday that I’m in Cooperstown, there’s not one plaque that I see in there as the result of a BBWAA election where I say that this person doesn’t belong. At the end of the day, the voters who participate show that they do their due diligence, they take the process seriously, and they truly vote their conscience.

(JO)

To what purpose would we change the voting procedure? We had a vote, you need to get 75 percent, and none of the candidates got it.  

I think that the writers are doing the job they’re suppose to do. They’re assessing players. We get a lot of criticism sometimes, but the criticism is based on the fact that we don’t elect a lot of people. Is that the purpose, to change things, to make sure more people get in? There’s a way to do that. Get rid of the 75 percent. That’s what makes this election so much different from any other. We had an election just a couple months ago where the president of the United States got elected with 53 percent of the population voting for him. And they were very excited, the Democrats. It was wonderful. So, with 53 percent you can get to the White House but you can’t get to Cooperstown. It’s the 75 percent that makes it difficult. The guidelines are right there and how you interpret them is up to each individual voter. And an individual voter can even ignore it if he or she wants to. It’s your ballot and you should treat it that way. 

Dark day for Cooperstown

(JI)

Obviously nobody in Cooperstown was rooting for a shutout. But, at the same token we have a great respect for the process. As I’ve often said, when you talk about the BBWAA ballot and a snapshot in time, a snapshot in time in that exercise isn’t one year, it’s 15. 

Categorize this election? 

(JI)

It’s evident that the voters took this exercise probably more serious than any other ballot that they’re filled out. And that’s because there are so many questions in voters’ minds. It takes time for history to sort itself out. I’m not surprised that we had a shutout today. I wish we had an electee, I will say that, but I’m not surprised given how volatile this era has been in terms of assessing qualities and the quantities of the statistics and the impact on the game these players have had.