HOF Voting FAQ

From the Baseball Writers’ Association of America website

What do BBWAA members vote for?

BBWAA members vote for four annual awards in each league:  MVP, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year. The BBWAA created these awards. BBWAA members also vote for the Hall of Fame.

How is the pool of Hall of Fame voters different?

In order to be eligible for a Hall of Fame vote, a writer must be an active member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years. Once a writer receives a Hall of Fame vote, he is eligible to continue voting even when he is no longer an active member of the BBWAA, provided he becomes a lifetime honorary member.

Does that mean some Hall of Fame voters don’t even cover baseball any more?

Yes. The BBWAA trusts that its voters take their responsibility seriously, and even those honorary members who are no longer covering baseball do their due diligence to produce a thoughtful ballot.

Why don’t broadcasters or former players get to vote for the Hall of Fame?

The board of directors at the Hall of Fame is responsible for choosing the best way to select honorees. Currently, they have decided that the BBWAA is the body best-suited to vote, but the Hall of Fame board is free to make changes as it sees fit. The BBWAA selects players, not managers, executives or umpires. They are chosen by the Veterans’ Committee.

How many BBWAA members vote for the Hall of Fame?

In 2010, there were a record 581 ballots returned. The number has generally increased year-to-year.

What does the Hall of Fame ballot include?

About 30 players are selected by a special, six-member screening committee, which pares down the list from all those who meet the eligibility requirements. Writers may vote for up to 10. The following instructions are included on the ballot:

Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

When does Hall of Fame voting take place?

The ballot is released in late November. It must be returned by Dec. 31.

Who tabulates the votes?

Jack O’Connell, the BBWAA’s Secretary/Treasurer, with the assistance of a representative from the accounting firm of Ernst & Young. The results are announced in early January.

How many votes are required for induction?

A player must be named on 75 percent of the ballots returned to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Blank ballots count toward the overall total, but unreturned ones do not.

Does the BBWAA make public the ballots of individual writers?

Voters may voluntarily reveal their votes, and the BBWAA publishes a list of those who have done so. Other voters reveal their ballots individually twitter, blogs or in their publications. Members are encouraged to keep their votes private until after the results are announced in January.

How do you become a member of the BBWAA?

The full membership requirements are in the BBWAA constitution. Essentially, you must be a beat writer, backup writer, columnist or sports editor from a newspaper or wire service that covers Major League Baseball on a regular basis. Membership has been expanded to include web sites on a case-by-case basis.