2008 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2008 proceeded according to revised rules enacted in 2001 and further revamped in 2007. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) held an election to select from among recent players. A restructured format for Veterans Committee voting resulted in the first successful election by that body since 2001, with five candidates earning induction, after the three elections in the intervening years failed to produce any inductees. Initially, the Veterans Committee was not scheduled to hold an election; the 2001 rules changes provided that elections for players retired over 20 years would be held every other year, with elections of non-players (managers, umpires and executives) held every fourth year. The Committee voted in 2007 in both areas, and an election for players was next held in 2009. Under the 2001 rules, the next election for non-players would have been conducted in 2011; however, the 2007 changes meant that elections of non-players would now be conducted for inductions in even-numbered years beginning in 2008, with managers and umpires elected from one ballot and executives from a separate ballot.
The BBWAA was again authorized to elect players active in 1988 or later, but not after 2002; the ballot, announced on November 26, 2007, included candidates from the 2007 ballot who received at least 5% of the vote but were not elected, along with selected players, chosen by a screening committee, whose last appearance was in 2002. All 10-year members of the BBWAA were eligible to vote.
Voters were instructed to cast votes for up to 10 candidates; any candidate who received votes on at least 75% of the ballots would be honored with induction to the Hall. Results of the 2008 election by the BBWAA were announced on January 8. The ballot consisted of 25 players, and over 575 ballots were distributed; they had to be returned by December 31, and votes were tabulated by BBWAA official Jack O'Connell along with Michael DiLecce, a partner in the Ernst & Young accounting firm. 543 ballots were cast (including 3 ballots which supported no candidates), two short of the record total of 2007, with 408 votes required for election. A total of 2,907 individual votes were cast, an average of 5.35 per ballot. Those candidates who received less than 5% of the vote will not appear on future BBWAA ballots, but may eventually be considered by the Veterans Committee.
Candidates who were eligible for the first time are indicated here with a †. Fourteen candidates returned from the 2007 ballot. The candidate who received at least 75% of the vote and was elected is indicated in bold italics; candidates who have since been selected in subsequent elections are indicated in italics. The candidates who received less than 5% of the vote, thus becoming ineligible for future BBWAA consideration, are indicated with a *.
Dave Concepción was on the ballot for the 15th and final time.
The newly-eligible candidates included 17 All-Stars, eight of whom were not included on the ballot, with only one (Tim Raines, with seven) who was selected more than five times. In contrast to the remarkably deep field of candidates in 2007, when those newly eligible had been named to the All-Star team a combined total of 103 times, the 2008 field of new candidates were selected a total of only 43 times. José Rijo, who appeared on the 2001 ballot before returning to the major leagues in 2001–2002, again became eligible. Darryl Kile, who died during the 2002 season, was included on the 2003 ballot under a standard provision for players who die before the five-year waiting period has elapsed; this same provision allowed Rod Beck (who played his last game in 2004 but died in 2007) to appear on the 2008 ballot.
Players eligible for the first time who were not included on the ballot were: Luis Alicea, Alex Arias, Andy Benes, Mike Benjamin, Dennis Cook, Delino DeShields, Darrin Fletcher, Rich Garcés, Chris Haney, Dave Hollins, Bobby J. Jones, Tom Lampkin, Darren Lewis, Mike Magnante, Dave Mlicki, Mike Morgan, Hipólito Pichardo, Armando Reynoso, Henry Rodríguez, Lee Stevens, Greg Swindell, Mike Trombley, John Valentin, Randy Velarde, Ed Vosberg, and Mark Wohlers.
Of the newly-eligible candidates, the only one who amassed enough votes to remain on the BBWAA ballot was Raines. This contrasts with the 2007 voting, when Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn were inducted at the first opportunity, and two other newcomers, Mark McGwire and Harold Baines, received enough votes to remain on the ballot. McGwire, who received 128 votes in 2007, got the same number of votes in 2008. Baines, whose 29 votes in 2007 kept him on the ballot by two votes, lost one vote in 2008, remaining on the ballot with exactly the minimum requirement.
Also notable was Jim Rice falling short of election, this time by 16 votes. He was on the ballot for the 15th and final time in 2009, finally earning induction that year alongside newcomer Rickey Henderson.
Veterans Committee elections
The Veterans Committee election process, radically changed in 2001, was revamped yet again in July 2007. The changes that most directly affected this election involved elections of non-players (managers, umpires and executives). Under the 2001 rules, elections of non-players would be held every fourth year on a "composite ballot". No candidate was elected from the composite ballot in 2003 or 2007.
With the 2007 rules changes, the composite ballot was split into two separate ballots—one for managers and umpires and the other for executives. Also, the voting membership of the Committee, which previously included all living members of the Hall, was now reduced to include just a handful of those members, plus additional executives and sportswriters (only one of whom had been among the previous electorate). Voting for both the managers/umpires and executives ballots will now take place prior to inductions in even-numbered years, starting with 2008. To be eligible, managers and umpires need to be retired for at least five years, or for at least six months if they are age 65 or older, while executives need to be either retired or at least age 65.
A Historical Overview Committee of eleven sportswriters appointed by the BBWAA's Board of Directors met to develop a ballot of 10 managers and umpires; the committee members were: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune), Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau), Moss Klein (Newark Star-Ledger), Bill Madden (New York Daily News), Ken Nigro (formerly Baltimore Sun), Jack O'Connell (MLB.com), Nick Peters (The Sacramento Bee), Tracy Ringolsby (Rocky Mountain News) and Mark Whicker (The Orange County Register). The managers/umpires list was submitted to a 16-member panel composed of 10 Hall of Famers (8 players and 2 managers), 3 executives and 3 veteran media members for a final vote. A separate ballot of 10 executives was developed by a 12-member panel including 7 executives, 2 players and 3 writers, which was the same committee which did the final voting in that area. On November 8, 2007, the final ballots were released. Each panel member could vote for up to four individuals on each ballot, and each candidate who received 75% of the vote from either panel would be elected; therefore, a maximum of five inductions was possible from each ballot. Voting was conducted at baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee on December 2, 2007, with the results announced on December 3; it was the first time since 2001 that the Committee met to discuss candidates, as the previous three elections had been conducted by mail.
The ballot for managers and umpires included seven managers (designated M) and three umpires (designated U), with 12 votes required for election. Candidates who received at least 75% of the vote and were elected are indicated in bold italics; candidates who have since been elected in later elections are indicated in italics.
Southworth, who won four National League titles between 1942 and 1948, and Williams, who won American League titles in 1967 and 1972–73 and an NL flag in 1984, had been the only eligible managers with at least four league pennants who had not yet been elected to the Hall; Southworth's 1,044 career victories, however, were the fewest by any manager yet elected. The committee members apparently made an effort to vote for as many candidates as they were allowed, casting at least 58 of a possible 64 individual votes (vote totals for four candidates were not released). Herzog, Martin, Williams and Harvey had previously been on the final composite ballot in the 2007 election. Four of the candidates were still living; at the time the ballot was released, Williams was 78, Harvey 77, Herzog a day shy of his 76th birthday, and Johnson 64. Harvey was the only manager or umpire on the ballot who received majority support in 2007, receiving 52 votes from the 81 committee members who voted that year. The leading vote-getter among managers in 2007 was Williams, who received 30 votes; Herzog was just behind at 29. Harvey and Herzog would both live to be inducted in 2010.
The election committee, which was announced on the same day as the ballot, included: