Good news for senior contestants: Hall may increase the number of inductees in the near future
For years, Hall of Fame voters have complained that more senior finalists should be enshrined…but for years they have not been heard. Now they have been, and their message is as loud as it is clear.
They want more elders elected.
This was communicated Thursday afternoon to Hall of Fame President Jim Porter in an hour-and-a-half Zoom call. Porter had promised to get voters’ input on possible changes and improvements for the future – with the main issue front and center – and he found what he was looking for.
Voters want the senior category dealt with immediately.
Here’s why: Currently, there is one senior nominee each year, with a senior defined as a player over the age of 25 retired from retirement. Voters think that’s not enough, and they have the numbers to prove it. There are 58 players from all decades in the senior squad, 53 of whom have never been finalists. Yet only one is eligible for induction each year.
That’s the same number of finalists per year as the Contributor and Coach categories, and there’s something wrong. The senior pool is far more loaded with Hall of Fame-worthy nominees than the contributing and coaching categories combined, but it produces the same number of nominees each year as each of the other two.
After what Porter heard Thursday, that could…and maybe…will change.
The popular suggestion was to increase the number to two seniors per year, and this is the most likely scenario to come up. That was the figure from 2004-14, or until Hall inaugurated the contributor category, and it appeared to garner the most support on Thursday — with little dissent.
“For me,” Porter said afterwards, “I would say there’s a major majority in favor of us going down this path. I think we’re probably all on the same page.
It’s a fair assessment.
“The most important thing to me,” Porter said, “is that the selectors understand that the Hall wants to hear from them and that it is expressed. It is important for me to hear this message. (The voters) are the ones who take heat if people think (they) are wrong. From this perspective, (voters) need to be part of the whole process so that we can understand it.
From the time Porter took over as Hall speaker in October, he has pushed a mantra of “getting it right”, with the voting process one of his top priorities. He was aware of the inequities with senior voting but wanted to hear from the selectors.
Well, now he has. So his next move is to notify the Hall’s board that he intends to put a proposal that increases the number of annual senior finalists to a vote in April. If at that time it were to pass, it could go into effect immediately, in time for the Class of 2023.
This should be good news for the elders and the senior subcommittee.
For too long, the two have been lumped together in a voting process that, frankly, is arduous and unfair. Granted, the Centennial Class of 2020 was supposed to reduce the huge backlog of qualified names, and it did… by 10. But there’s still a deep pool of Hall of Fame-worthy individuals out there – including eight league MVPs, only one of which was discussed as a finalist.
Now I know what you’re thinking: OK, so how does this all work out for Contributors and Coaches? Oh, that’s another story. There is considerable support for keeping the total number of inductees each year at eight, with five modern-era nominees included. If two seniors per year were also included, that leaves only one slot for coaches and contributors.
How to solve it? One possibility is to have alternate years. Another is to merge the two categories into one. Neither has been decided, but both have been discussed.
“Let’s do it right,” Porter said. “I’m excited about it.”