… At least for now, anyway.
According to National Baseball Hall of Fame Vice President of Communications and Education Brad Horn, for the foreseeable future, the Hall’s board of directors has no plans to change or even revisit its current policy of keeping additional segregation-era African-American candidates out of Cooperstown.
I spoke with Mr. Horn this morning, and he confirmed what many Negro Leagues enthusiasts have both feared and protested ever since a special committee elected 17 Negro League figures in 2006.
“The board is comfortable with its [election] process at this time,” he said. “It does not have a perpetual process to consider Negro Leaguers. The board said that at the time in 2006, and it hasn’t deviated from that at this point.”
I suggested to him that a few Negro Leagues fans and researchers such as my Malloy roommate Ted Knorr have crunched the numbers and found what they believe to be a woeful under-representation of segregation-era African-American players, managers and executives. Compared to the number of white, pre-1947 Major Leaguers, the number of black candidates in the hall is miniscule.
Mr. Horn said that he and the HOF’s board certainly understand that argument, but he added that despite any such ratios, right now the Hall is sticking to its guns.
“In 2006, the Hall of Fame said [the special committee] served as the final consideration for the Negro Leaguers,” he said.
“But,” he quickly added, “we kept the door open for new research to be considered. [The current policy] doesn’t mean that it won’t happen at some point.”
Still, he said, “At this time, the board is comfortable with the fact that it has given [Negro League and pre-Negro League figures] comprehensive consideration. It does not want to rewrite the policies and procedures.”
I noted to him that because the Hall has a Pre-Integration Committee that continues to elect white Major Leaguers from that era but still has closed the door to Negro Leaguers, many in the blackball community simply feel that such policies and mechanisms are unfair and unjust.
I also asked him whether the Hall feels that there are, in fact, segregation-era African-American candidates out there, but Horn declined to address that directly. He also hedged a bit when asked what it would take to have the policy changed eventually.
“The Baseball Hall of Fame remains committed to an election process that continues to meet the needs of preserving baseball history,” he said. “Certainly the argument that baseball has many individuals who are always going to be good candidates for induction is an argument that is recognized by the Hall of Fame.”
But, he added, “Our job is to allow for the best system possible, and at this point, the board remains dedicated to evaluating how the induction process affects all candidates.
“The board is always willing to consider candidates in its regular course of business, and it has the ability to change the process [at any time]. We continue to encourage baseball fans to send us letters stating their viewpoints and the board will consider them, but there are many fans who each have their opinions of the induction process.”
“At this point,” he concluded, “the board feels there is not the need for an election process that considers new [Negro League] candidates.”
What do you think about the Hall’s policy? Feel free to leave comments on this blog or on the various Facebook pages or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you!