A whole smattering of MLB greats from the 1970s and 80s who missed out on election to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the writers' ballots will get a second chance at a bronze plaque in Cooperstown. On Monday, the Hall of Fame announced the 10 men—nine players and one executive—who will be on the Modern Baseball Era ballot as part of the institution's Era Committee vote, to be held at the Baseball Winter Meetings on Dec. 10. Among those who will be up for consideration: Jack Morris, Don Mattingly, Luis Tiant, Alan Trammell, Steve Garvey, and former MLBPA head Marvin Miller.
The Era Committees were established in 2016 to replace the Veterans Committee, the group of former players, managers and executives charged with determining which players not elected into the Hall by the Baseball Writers Association of America might still be worthy of induction. That group has been restructured a number of times over the years, first with a split into three era-based committees in 2010 that was then expanded into four different groups last year: Today's Game (individuals from 1988 onward), Modern Baseball (1970–87), Golden Days (1950–69), and Early Baseball (1871–1949). The Today's Game ballot was the first to be voted upon last December, with the 16-member committee choosing to induct former commissioner Bud Selig and former Braves and Royals general manager John Schuerholz from a list of 10 players, managers and executives.
This year marks the first consideration of players from the Modern Baseball Era. Alongside Morris, Mattingly, Tiant, Trammell, Garvey, and Miller, the committee will also consider the cases of Tommy John, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, and Al Simmons. All aside from Miller appeared on BBWAA ballots after their careers ended, but none were selected by the writers. Some came very close—Morris received 61.5% of the vote in 2014, his final year on the ballot—though most fell off the ballot after only a few years or lingered on the edges for a decade-plus, as Trammell did.
Induction by the Era Committee, like the BBWAA vote, requires a player to appear on 75% or more of the ballots cast. No player has been voted in by the Era Committees (or the Veterans Committee before them) since Deacon White, who played in the 1880s, in 2012; the last living player to get the nod from the VC was Bill Mazeroski in 2001.
Whether any member of this group makes it through is unknown. Miller deserves induction for his groundbreaking work as the executive director of the players' union in the 1960s and 70s, when he turned the MLBPA into arguably the strongest professional sports union in the country, and for his challenge to the reserve clause, which helped create free agency for players. He also came up just one vote shy of the Hall in a previous Era Committee ballot in 2011. Trammell is a strong candidate by the advanced stats and was gaining some traction in his final years on the BBWAA ballot but never cracked 40% of the vote. John and Tiant are borderline cases by the numbers, and Morris still has plenty of supporters among the old guard.
The results of the Modern Baseball vote will be announced during the Winter Meetings in December. Here's to hoping that this year, we'll get another overlooked former player—or at least Miller—joining the Cooperstown ranks.