By Richard Pryor, III
This week, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the election of Derek Jeter and Larry Walker to the Hall. However, this reception of this election was marred by the fact that Jeter received votes from every member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA, who votes on the inductees) except for one. Jeter would have been the second player ever to be elected unanimously, after his teammate Mariano Riviera.
One of my favorite sports commentators, Bob Ryan, said it best on Around the Horn this week – “Jeter is one of the roughly 75 people who should have been unanimous.” Ultimately, this is a system that has the 397 members of the BWAA only vote for up to 10 players each year – and if a player gets less than 20 votes (5 percent of the voters), then they are dropped from remaining on the ballot, and only players with 298 votes (75 percent) get inducted. That’s why you get classes of eight to ten in the Pro Football Hall, but only one or two for the Baseball Hall.
Some form of voting reform must take place for the Baseball Hall, and we need to stop obsessing over unanimity. For example, when 2022 rolls around, the BWAA will have to choose from the likes of Andrew Bailey, Carlos Beltran, Prince Fielder, Joe Nathan, Alex Rodriguez, David Ross, and Mark Texiera amongst others. The system will become unsustainable due to the rise of modern baseball fanaticism in the 2000s, and as the players people have loved over the years start becoming eligible. The Baseball Hall and the BWAA could face massive public furor if this system screws over the players people love. So maybe this current scandal should cause them to rethink their system before people really get pissed.