12 players, five executives, including first woman, to be honored July 30 in Cooperstown
February 27, 2006
COOPERSTOWN, NY: A committee of 12 Negro and pre-Negro leagues baseball historians elected 17 candidates to the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Tampa, Fla., featuring 12 players and five executives. The 17 electees will be honored in Cooperstown, New York, during Induction Ceremonies on July 30, joining Bruce Sutter, the lone electee from the Baseball Writers' Association of America election announcement in January.
The electees include seven Negro leagues players: Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Andy Cooper, Biz Mackey, Mule Suttles, Cristobal Torriente, and Jud Wilson; five pre-Negro leagues players: Frank Grant, Pete Hill, José Méndez, Louis Santop, and Ben Taylor; four Negro leagues executives Effa Manley, Alex Pompez, Cum Posey, and J.L. Wilkinson; and one pre-Negro leagues executive Sol White. Manley, an owner in the Negro leagues, becomes the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Each of the 17 received the necessary 75% of the 12-member voting committee to earn election to the Hall of Fame. The committee reviewed the careers of 39 Negro and pre-Negro leagues candidates over a two-day meeting in Tampa. The list of 39 was pared from a roster of 94 candidates, narrowed by a five-member screening committee in November.
The voting and screening committees were chaired by Fay Vincent, Major League Baseball's eighth commissioner and an Honorary Director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Vincent, the non-voting chairman, led discussions with committee members. The committee also received counsel from Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
"The Board of Directors is extremely pleased with how this project has evolved over the last five years - culminating in today's vote," said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. "Over the last two days, this committee has held discussions in great detail, utilizing the research and statistics now available to determine who deserves baseball's highest honor - a plaque in the Hall of Fame Gallery in Cooperstown."
The electees will join 18 Hall of Famers from the Negro leagues already enshrined in Cooperstown: Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Ray Dandridge, Leon Day, Martin Dihigo, Bill Foster, Rube Foster, Josh Gibson, Monte Irvin, Judy Johnson, Buck Leonard, Pop Lloyd, Satchel Paige, Joe Rogan, Hilton Smith, Turkey Stearnes, Willie Wells and Smokey Joe Williams.
Major League Baseball provided the Baseball Hall of Fame with a $250,000 grant in July 2000 in order to initiate a comprehensive study on the history of African Americans in Baseball, from 1860-1960. The funds were to allow the Museum to expand the scope and depth of its knowledge and historical collection on Baseball and American culture.
"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I applaud the National Baseball Hall of Fame for conducting this special election of former Negro League stars, and I heartily congratulate those who were elected," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "I look forward to being in Cooperstown on July 30 to witness their enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. Eighteen Negro League stars had been elected prior to today's vote, but previous committees had overlooked many who were deserving. Major League Baseball is proud to have played a part in a process that has corrected some of those omissions."
In February 2001, the Board selected "The Negro Leagues Researchers/Authors Group" research team, led by Dr. Hogan of Union County College (NJ), Dick Clark, and Larry Lester, to conduct the comprehensive study. The three historians led a diverse group of more than 50 other authors, researcher and historians in this first-of-its-kind academic study.
The research resulted in a raw narrative and bibliography of nearly 800 pages and a statistical database, which includes 3,000 day-by-day records, league leaders and all-time leaders. The research was culled from box scores from 128 newspapers of sanctioned league games played from 1920-54.
With the research now complete, the study includes sanctioned league game box scores from almost 100% of games played in the 1920s, in excess of 90% of the box scores from games played in the 1930s and box scores from 50-70% of games played in the 1940s and 50s, during which time the various leagues began to disband and newspapers ceased to report game information. The end result is the most comprehensive compilation of statistics on the Negro leagues that have ever been accumulated.
A 12-member voting committee, appointed by the Board of Directors, met February 25-27 to review the final ballots of candidates. Robert Peterson, an author whose seminal work Only the Ball Was White, passed away on Feb. 11, casting his ballot two days before his death. With the unanimous support of the other 11 voting committee members, Peterson's ballot was included in the final vote. The 12 voting committee members and their areas of expertise in African-American baseball history included:
Todd Bolton, Latin America Greg Bond, 19th Century Adrian Burgos, Latin America Dick Clark, Negro leagues Ray Doswell, overall knowledge Leslie Heaphy, Women’s HistoryLarry Hogan, overall knowledge, Negro leaguesLarry Lester, Negro leaguesSammy Miller, Eastern and Western teamsJim Overmyer, Eastern teams and 19th century Robert Peterson, overall knowledgeRob Ruck, Eastern teams
National Geographic, in conjunction with the Baseball Hall of Fame, has published a book called Shades of Glory, in February, using material from the research study. The book traces the dramatic history of African-Americans and baseball from the Civil War to the present. This definitive, detailed, richly illustrated book covers the game as it developed on the field, also providing a review of how baseball played an important role within the black community, particularly during the days of segregation. It shows how this segment of American society dealt with a variety of cultural and legal barriers, but that these detours did not stop them from developing an outstanding level of skill, but also a dedicated passion for the our great national pastime.
A five-member screening committee, all from the voting committee – Burgos, Clark, Hogan, Lester, and Overmyer – and appointed by the Board of Directors, reviewed the candidacies of 94 players in November, pairing the list to 39 candidates.
The list of 94 candidates from which this process began, with written recommendations from fans, historians and Hall of Fame members accepted and reviewed by the screening committee. The list was pared down and as a result, the screening committee began with a roster of 94 candidates: