The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, United States. The Hall's motto is "Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations."
The Museum Itself
Template:Float Ad Right The Hall of Fame was dedicated on June 12, 1939, by the Clark Foundation, a private organization based in Cooperstown that traces its money to the original Singer Sewing Machine Company. Cooperstown was chose because, according to legend, Abner Doubleday invented baseball in the hamlet. (The story is false.)
Major League Baseball soon began cooperating with the Hall of Fame. Today the Hall of Fame features many exhibits on the game's history. An extensive collection of memorabilia is on display to the public as well, including historic home run balls, scorecards, and bats, and uniforms. The Hall of Fame also includes an art collection and a substantial research library with online search capabilities.
Annually, the Baseball Writers Association of America ("BBWAA") issues ballots to its members for the purposes of electing new enshrinees.
Five years after retirement, any player with 10 years of major league experience, who passes a screening committee (which removes from consideration players of clearly lesser qualification) is eligible to be elected by BBWAA members with 10 years' membership or more. Each writer may vote for up to 10 players from the final ballot. Any player named on 75% or more of all ballots cast is elected. A player who is named on fewer than 5% of ballots is dropped from future elections. Any player who is on the BBWAA ballot for 15 years and is not elected is dropped from the ballot, but also may be considered by the Veterans Committee, a group comprised of enshrinees and award winners (below).
Under special circumstances, certain players may be deemed eligible for induction even though they have not met all requirements. This has resulted in only two inductions, when Lou Gehrig was specially elected shortly after his retirement in 1939, and when Addie Joss was elected in 1978 despite only playing in nine seasons. Additionally, if an otherwise eligible player dies before their fifth year of retirement, then that player may be placed on the ballot at the first election at least six months after their death. Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash in 1972, is the only current Hall of Fame member for whom the 5-year minimum was waived.
The first five men elected were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, named in 1936. As of January 2006, 261 men had been elected or appointed to the Hall of Fame, including 213 players, 17 managers (many of whom also played), 8 umpires, and 23 builders, executives, and organizers.
Awards for Reporting
Annually, the Hall also gives out the Ford C. Frick Award, for excellence in broadcasting, and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, for excellence in baseball writing. There are twenty-six Frick awardees and fifty-six Spink awardees.
Non-Players and Negro League Players
The Veterans Committee also votes every fourth year on candidates from among managers, umpires, executives or builders. Negro League players are now being considered. The Hall has completed a study on African American players between the late 19th century and the integration of the major leagues in 1947, and will conduct a special election for such players in February 2006.
An ongoing controversy facing the Hall of Fame is that of the status of Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Jackson and Rose were both banned from baseball for life for actions related to gambling on their own teams - Jackson was determined to have cooperated with those who conspired to lose the 1919 World Series on purpose, and Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent spot on the ineligible list in return for MLB's promise to make no official finding in relation to alleged betting on the Cincinnati Reds when he was their manager in the 1980s. While Jackson and Rose had outstanding playing careers that would usually merit Hall of Fame induction, the Hall of Fame disallows election of anyone on the permanent suspension list.