COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The Baseball Hall of Fame announced Saturday that it is reducing the maximum number of years players can remain on the ballot from 15 to 10, while also making public the names of those who vote.
The changes are reflected immediately and will be reflected in the 2015 voting, though three players currently on the ballot in years 10-15 — Don Mattingly (15th), Alan Trammell (14th) and Lee Smith (13th) — will be grandfathered in and eligible through the maximum 15 years.
"The board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "We believe the (Baseball Writers Association of America) has done an excellent job of honoring the criteria advanced by the Hall of Fame — player’s record, contributions to the teams on which the player played, character, sportsmanship and integrity — to determine individuals who belong in the Hall of Fame by the highest threshold, a 75 percent majority.
"The board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward."
Candidates that had received votes on at least five percent of ballots had previously been able to stay on the ballot for 15 years, but now after 10 years, they will move to the Era Committee system for review in perpetuity.
HOF voters will now be required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct. The names of those casting a ballot will be made public, along with the election results. However, an individual ballot will not be revealed by the Hall of Fame.
These are the first alterations made to the Hall of Fame voting since 1991 — when the long-standing unwritten rule that anyone on baseball’s ineligible list cannot be a candidate was formalized — and the second time since 1985 — that year the candidates appearing on at least five percent of ballots were made eligible for future elections.