Hall of Fame Announces Changes to Voting Process

imageThe National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors today announced changes to the rules for election for recently retired players, reducing the length of stay on the ballot for players from a maximum of 15 to 10 years, while installing a new balloting and registration process for Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting members.

The changes, effective immediately and to be reflected in 2015 Hall of Fame voting, are the first made by the Hall of Fame to the voting process since 1991 and just the second time the Baseball Hall of Fame has amended the rules for election since 1985.

“The Board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant,” said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “We believe the BBWAA has done an excellent job of honoring the criteria advanced by the Hall of Fame – player’s record, contributions to the teams on which the player played, character, sportsmanship and integrity – to determine individuals who belong in the Hall of Fame by the highest threshold, a 75 percent majority. The Board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward.”

Candidates for Hall of Fame election who receive votes on at least five percent of ballots cast had previously been eligible to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years of consideration by the BBWAA. 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 presently on the BBWAA ballot in years 10-15 will be grandfathered into this system and remain 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) will be 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 will now be required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct. The names of those BBWAA members casting Hall of Fame ballots will now be made public with the election results; however, an individual’s ballot will not be revealed by the Hall of Fame.

Ernst and Young will continue to verify the count, with added responsibilities in verifying the process. The 2015 ballot will be announced by the BBWAA in late-November and those who have completed the registration process will receive their ballot around that time. Ballots are to be postmarked by December 31. The 2015 BBWAA Hall of Fame results will be announced at a yet to be determined date in early January.

Of the 211 players in the Hall of Fame, 115 have been elected by the BBWAA, 96 by Veterans Committees. Of the 115 BBWAA electees, 102 (89%) have been elected in years 1-10 and 13 (11%) have been elected in years 11-15.

The BBWAA has held the exclusive voting privilege to consider recently retired players for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 1936. Since that time, the BBWAA has presided over 70 elections in 79 election years, with no elections being held in 1940, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963 and 1965.

In the nascent stages of Hall of Fame voting, election rules were not codified. By World War II, they began to take shape, with evolution over ensuing years featuring changes to the eligibility criteria and qualifications for earning election. The rules for election are maintained and governed by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.

The last rule change implemented by the Hall of Fame came in 1991, formalizing a long-standing unwritten rule that anyone on baseball’s ineligible list cannot be an eligible candidate for Hall of Fame election. Prior to that, in 1985, the Board made candidates eligible for future elections if they were named on five percent or more of ballots cast in preceding elections.

A Yankee Fan On Screens Big And Small

CaviezelJim Caveziel has played a legendary golfer (Bobby Jones), has traded hoops time with the likes of John Stockton and others (from his time growing up in the state of Washington), spent hours listening to John Wooden (who coached his dad at UCLA), and now plays legendary high school coach Bob Ladoceur in the upcoming film When The Game Stands Tall.

Yet for his wide ranging connections to sport, baseball seemed to be in the distance for the current star of “Person of Interest.”  However that could not be further from the truth, as we learned when the veteran actor took the stage in June at, of all places, Yankee Stadium for the Beyond Sport Conference.

Caveziel was joined by ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi to talk about the values that sport played in his life, especially with the roles he has engaged in during a prosperous career, and baseball fit well into the conversation.

“It’s quite amazing to be at Yankee Stadium, when you think about the history and tradition of what this team stands for,” Caveziel said. “Right now I get to play a legendary coach at the high school level in Bob Ladouceur, and when you compare that to the legendary coaches that have worn the pinstripes—Joe Torre, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin, Joe McCarthy—it’s nice to be even associated with such legends by being here and talking about their craft.”

The feature, which comes out in late August nationwide, is about De La Salle High School in Northern California, and tells the story of how the team put together the longest winning streak in sports history under Ladouceur, but then had to find its way back to moral, academic and personal success after a series of tragedies rocked the team. Directed by Thomas Carter, the film is much more about the values of team and the challenges of everyday life than the glitz and glamour associated with elite athletics on every level. Caviezel, along with co-stars like Laura Dern, Michael Chiklis and Clancy Brown, bring the positives and the negatives of those life lessons home.

“It is a film about a high school football team, yes, but the message transcends sports, and I’m sure will resonate with any coach or parent who has had to deal with the issues we have in life,” Caviezel added. “However I think for elite coaches who have had success, the message can be even greater, because maintaining that level of success and the pressure you have placed on yourself and your team can be very daunting. It’s something you see and understand at Yankee Stadium for sure, with all those banners hanging. There are a lot of ghosts looking down on the team, and keeping that tradition alive can be very taxing.”

While growing up a Mariners fan in the Pacific Northwest, Caveziel always admired the Yankees tradition and now as he makes his home in New York, he has come to call the Yankees more of his team, both for their success on the field and the way they carry themselves in the community.

“Just being in the stadium and looking out onto that field brings such a sense of awe, and when you factor in what has gone n on the field, and how a person like Derek Jeter carries himself in his life, it’s pretty inspiring,” he added. “Plus you factor in all the former Mariners who have come to New York and seen success, from Ichiro to Randy Johnson and on and on, and it’s hard not to get caught up in all that the Yankees are about, even for someone who has such deep ties to Seattle.”

So while fans will see Caveziel as a high school coach in the coming weeks, could there be a baseball story in the future as well? “Sports as a theme in entertainment can be very powerful when done right as a metaphor for life,” he added. “I think people will see that in When The Game Stands Tall, and there certainly are any number of baseball stories that fit the mold, so who knows what the future brings. It certainly would be interesting to see what’s out there, and I’d welcome the challenge if the timing and the story fit.”

But for now, Yankee fans can take pride in seeing one of theirs as a star both on TV, and now in an upcoming film on a legendary coach.

 

‘Big Papi’ Documentary Debuts on Epix Thursday

Ortiz-SmileAfter parts of six years with the Minnesota Twins, David Ortiz hadn’t distinguished himself as anything near the player and personality he would become. Released by the Twins after what had been his best season in 2002 (.272/.339/.500; 20 HR, 75 RBI), the 26-year-old signed with Boston, and the legend of “Big Papi” was born.

Twelve stellar years later, though Yankees fans would be loath to admit it, the slugger has Hall of Fame credentials, and his string of success while with the Red Sox includes a home run crown, two RBI titles, countless huge clutch hits and, most importantly, three World Series victories.

There has been some controversy along the way, involving enhancing drugs and clashes with the media, but there is no doubt that “Papi” is loved in Boston, and he’s been a polarizing figure everywhere else.

The EPIX Original Documentary, David Ortiz In The Moment, offers baseball fans in and around “Red Sox Nation” a close-up look at Ortiz’s life. The special, produced by Relativity Sports in conjunction with Major League Baseball Productions, traces Ortiz’s path from The Dominican Republic to stardom and lets us into “Big Papi’s” world.

David Ortiz In the Moment makes its World Television Premiere on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Yankees Promote Wheeler, Option Solarte

The Yangervis Solarte experiment has hit a detour in the Bronx, as the 26-year-old rookie who got off to such a rousing start for the Bombers in the first two months of the season was optioned to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre today in the first of what may be more moves to come.

Infielder Zelous Wheeler, similar to Solarte in that he has played his entire eight-year career in the minors, was added to the big league roster for the first time.

Solarte (.260/.343/.393) has played in 63 games for New York this year, primarily at third base. He has seen his playing time decline as he slumped over the past month.

Wheeler, 27, has played four defensive positions this year for Scranton, primarily third and shortstop, and sports a .299/.367/.467 slash line with 7 home runs and 31 RBI.

Infielder Dean Anna, who hit .136 in 22 at bats earlier this season for the Yankees after being acquired in the off season from San Diego, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

Mets-Yankees Viewing Party and Fantasy Baseball Draft at Strawberry’s Grill

On Tuesday April 3rd, beginning at 2pm ET, Gotham Baseball is hosting an event at Strawberry’s Grill in Douglastion, NY.

It is going to be a party all day long in the grill! SeatCrew will be on hand giving away Mets tickets. Bloomberg Sports will be joining us to give away FREE Front Office 2012 log-ins during our Fantasy draft.

We’re kicking things off during the Yankees/Mets Exhibition game at 2:10 PM. Come for our lunch special, stay for the $10 pitchers.

At 5 PM we’ll be playing baseball trivia with tons of prizes and giveaways.

Next up, Mark Healey of Gotham Baseball will be hosting our Live Fantasy Baseball Draft (7 pm start). The league will be a head-to-head, 5×5 mixed league with owners picking players in a snake draft. Grab a beer, a bar stool and meet the teams from SeatCrew and Bloomberg Sports to snag Mets tickets and Front Office 2012 log-ins, respectively.

Mark Healey is the Editor-in-Chief of Going 9 Baseball and the host of “Going 9 Fantasy Baseball” on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Radio. He is also the Founder of Gotham Baseball magazine, and has been covering NYC baseball since 1998.

It’s bound to be an exciting day in the grill! For dinner reservations during the draft, reservations are highly recommended. Call 718 517 8787.

Ten Nominated For 47th Annual Hutch Award

Ten MLB players are up for the 47th annual Hutch Award®, which is sponsored by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Of the finalists, who were nominated by a national committee, one will go on to receive the award at Safeco Field in February.

Baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will give the keynote address at the Hutch Award Luncheon on Feb. 1, 2012. Proceeds will benefit early cancer detection research at the Hutchinson Center .

This year’s Hutch Award nominees are:

Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Tony Campana, Chicago Cubs
Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins
Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians
Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox
Josh Willingham, Oakland Athletics

The Hutch Award recipient will be selected this fall through a vote of all surviving former awardees. A total of 46 players have been honored since 1965, when Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural award. Baseball’s Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie McCovey and Lou Brock all received the Hutch Award; in recent years Jamie Moyer, Craig Biggio, Jon Lester, Mark Teahen and Tim Hudson have joined their ranks.

The Hutch Award is given annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of legendary baseball player and manager Fred Hutchinson. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – founded by Fred’s brother, Dr. Bill Hutchinson, after Fred succumbed to cancer at age 45 – is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer and related diseases.

For more information about the Hutch Award, including a full list of past recipients, or to learn more about the luncheon, visit www.fhcrc.org/hutchaward.

B.A.T. To Celebrate Mets’ 50th Anniversary At Fundraising Dinner Jan. 24

The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets at the 23rd annual “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner on January 24, 2012, at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. Founded in 1986, B.A.T. is dedicated to assisting members of the Baseball Family through financial grants, healthcare programs and rehabilitative counseling. More than $23 million in grants have been awarded to date, benefiting more than 2,700 members of the Baseball Family who are in need of assistance.

At the “Going to Bat for B.A.T. Fundraising Dinner,” fans are given the opportunity to interact with Baseball Hall of Famers, and former and current Major League Baseball players while raising money to assist members of the Baseball Family who have fallen on hard times. The night’s festivities include a cocktail hour in which attendees have the opportunity to meet and obtain autographs from players. Players are seated with guests at each table during the dinner and all proceeds go to B.A.T.

“The New York Mets brought National League baseball back to New York in 1962, and since then, have won two championships and created some of baseball’s most indelible moments,” said B.A.T. Executive Director Joseph Grippo. “The organization has been an incredible supporter of B.A.T. over the years, and we are thankful for their generosity in helping members of the Baseball Family. The Mets have one of the most passionate followings in the game, and we are happy to give those fans an opportunity to rub elbows with some of their baseball heroes while raising money for B.A.T.”

“We are honored that the Baseball Assistance Team is saluting the Mets 50th anniversary,” said Dave Howard, Mets Executive Vice President, Business Operations. “This will be an Amazin’ experience for our fans to meet some of the greatest players in our history and raise money for B.A.T.’s mission of helping members of the Baseball Family in need.”

Special awards are presented at the Dinner each year: the Big BAT/Frank Slocum Award, which goes to an individual who provides financial support and generosity to the B.A.T. organization; the Bart Giamatti Award, which goes to the individual who displays a dedication to giving back to the community; and the Bobby Murcer Award, which is presented to the team in both the American League and National League whose players contribute the most amount of money to B.A.T. through the B.A.T. Payroll Deduction Program that previous year.

B.A.T. was founded by former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, a group of former players and Major League Baseball. In addition to assisting former Major League players, B.A.T. also offers support to former Major League managers, coaches, scouts, umpires, athletic trainers, front office personnel, Minor League players, Negro League players, players from the Women’s Professional Baseball League, and spouses and children. All aid provided by B.A.T. is strictly confidential allowing those in the need to receive help discreetly.

Entering its 27th year, B.A.T. is a unique organization within the sports industry dedicated to assisting members of the Baseball Family who are in need. Through charitable contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals, B.A.T. strives to provide a means of support to people with financial, medical or psychological burdens. B.A.T. is a 501-(c) 3 charitable organization.

For more information about B.A.T., to purchase tickets for the Dinner or to make a donation please call 212-931-7821 or visit http://www.baseballassistanceteam.com.

Rivera All-Time Record Collection From Steiner Sports Lets Fans ‘Save’ Piece of History

Yankee fans and baseball collectors alike will be able to literally “save” a piece of history through the Mariano Rivera 602 All-time Saves Record Collection from Steiner Sports Memorabilia.

Now that Sandman has entered the record books by eclipsing Trevor Hoffman’s previous mark of 601 saves, Steiner has created a series of memorabilia to mark the occasion, complete with a Mariano logo, an etching of the hurler in pitching motion. The Yankee icon and sure-fire Hall of Famer amazingly recorded all of the saves with the same team – the New York Yankees. The collection will include: hand-signed photographs from the monumental achievement against the Twins at Yankee Stadium, dated September 19, 2011; a plaque with featuring a capsule of dirt taken from the Stadium mound; replica lineup card plaque featuring an actual game ticket; game used mound, bases and home plate; a 14

Ruth ‘Built’ It, And They Came…

It’s hard to think of a time when the Yankees were not the dominant force in the game — not just as a year-after-year championship-caliber squad on the field, but the economic engine that, along with select other franchises to varying degrees, drives the game.

But in the first two decades of the 20th century, the American League’s New York entry was a perennial also-ran, utterly dominated by the Giants, the Senior Circuit squad with whom they, for a time, shared the Polo Grounds.  The acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920 is, of course, an important turning point in the competitive and financial dynamic of the two franchises.  But it was the opening of Yankee Stadium in 1923, a move in many ways forced upon the Yankees by John McGraw and the Giants, which turned the tides forever in the Pinstripes’ favor.

Robert Weintraub chronicles the events and actions which led to this sea-change in the excellent The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923 (Little, Brown and Company, 420 pps.).  Ruth’s power, as Weintraub shows, was actually more suited to the Polo Grounds, as his frequent right-center-field clouts that previously were home runs now turned into outs and, occasionally, doubles and triples in the park dubbed in his honor.

But the boon that playing in their own park, rather than one rented from their NL foes, allowed the Yankees to build the dynasty that had its roots in the 1921 and 1922 teams which won the AL but fell both times to the Giants in World Series played entirely at the Polo Grounds.  Ruth was totally dominated in both Fall Classics, McGraw’s “scientific baseball” still reigning supreme despite the imminent and permanent changes the new “rabbit ball” would cause.

Weintraub looks deeper into the development of Yankee Stadium plans, giving more credit than is usually afforded to the Yankees’ “other” co-owner, Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston, who is much less remembered today than beer magnate Jacob Ruppert, who won a power play of sorts to claim dominant ownership of the club.  Huston’s story is at least as fascinating, and his contributions to building the Yankees, as well as the Stadium, are significant.  His already strained relationship with Ruppert completely shattered, Huston sold his share to his partner just two months after Opening Day.

The House That Ruth Built is filled with interesting stories, like Ruth’s off-season regimen to recover from an injury-filled 1922, McGraw’s refusal to have his team dress in the new Stadium (opting to make the trip across the river in full uniform) and an exhibition game right before the World Series which actually combined the Yankees and Giants forces — unimaginable today!

The star of the book, though, is Ruth, who ushered in this new era, rising to the occasion with a home run — of course — in the Stadium’s inaugural game and leading an early form of Murderer’s Row to the team’s first title.  In wresting control of the sport from McGraw, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and the “old” way of playing the game, Ruth and the Yankees were at the front of this inevitable and permanent change.

Yankees Launch HOPE Week 2011

The New York Yankees today began HOPE Week 2011 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), a unique week-long community program that will bring to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.

Initiated in 2009 and now in its third year, HOPE Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture. Each day from today through Friday, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Though each day’s honoree will ultimately be celebrated at Yankee Stadium prior to a game, outreach will also take place away from the Stadium in various locations around New York City, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals in settings that highlight their tremendous accomplishments.

One of the most unique aspects of HOPE Week is that every player on the active roster, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, as well as Manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff, will participate in the outreach for the five events.

Equally significant during HOPE Week is gaining publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.

The Yankees first recognized the return of HOPE Week in 2011 with a pregame ceremony on March 27 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Fla., prior to their spring training game against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees were proud to jointly host this ceremony with the Twins, who embraced the HOPE Week concept by holding their own HOPE Week during the 2011 season from June 12 through June 18.

In July 2010, the HOPE Week initiative was honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, given “in recognition and appreciation of commitment to strengthening the Nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.” The award was bestowed by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service. In November 2009, HOPE Week was recognized at the 11th Annual National Sportsmanship Awards in St. Louis, honoring its work with Camp Sundown, which is one of the world’s only support networks for children and young adults with xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) – a condition in which a person’s skin has no defense against UV light.