HOF: No more Negro Leaguers, and no changes to policy

… 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 rwhirty218@yahoo.com. I want to hear from you!

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11 thoughts on “HOF: No more Negro Leaguers, and no changes to policy

  1. To not even consider election of any more players from black baseball or the Negro Leagues is a dis service to the game its history and most of all to the men who sweated, bled and died to play the “American” game. It would seem to me that perhaps they should work in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame in Kansas City because I just cant believe that there are no more viable candidates from black baseball. In fact I know in my heart there is Buck O’Neil and Minnie Minoso come to mind right away and given time I would be willing to bet there are at the very least 20 to 30 more candidates who deserve their chance to finally get what is long overdue

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  2. I agree with everything that Kevin Larkin noted. If the Baseball Hall of Fame is as Brad Horn puts it…“The Baseball Hall of Fame remains committed to an election process that continues to meet the needs of preserving baseball history,” then the players and history of the Negro Leagues should NEVER be excluded from consideration. Wake up Hall of Fame and do the right thing!

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  3. I believe that Mr. Horn is hiding behind his own bureaucracy, claiming that the board is “dedicated” to having the best and most fair system to identify Hall of Fame worthies, but still feels “there is not the need” to consider any more Negro Leaguers.

    Sometimes I think that the 2006 committee should have voted yes on all 39 candidates they were considering, and maybe weeded the original list of 94 a bit more liberally. We have better and more accurate statistical data about the Negro Leagues now than we did in 2006. We have some players and managers who were simply overlooked during that vote. While I still commend the work of that Committee, they did miss a few.

    But I think the current attitude expressed by Mr. Horn increases my suspicion that the Hall INTENDED the 2006 vote to be a final we’re-done-with-this-issue-don’t-call-us-again kind of thing, and our questions about further revisits just make them uncomfortable, not completely unlike the way MLB has acted in stages when dealing with the race issue.

    And by all means, we should continue to make them uncomfortable.

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  4. My great grandfather deserves to be in the HOF JB Martin Sr. President/Team owner/Stadium owner. I will and I hope all of us will keep the HOF aware of the unjustice they are committing by not recognizing these men!

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  5. Some of the greatest men to ever play the game of baseball were in the Negro Leagues. During their career they often times endure great pains and social injustice. All at the cost of playing the game that they loved so very much. Now, they injustice continues at the hands of the Baseball Hall of Fame!!! May God open your eyes and reconsider your present decision Some of these fine athletes have been deprived of the recognition due them long enough..

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