There are 64 living members. The oldest is Bobby Doerr, 94, and the youngest is Roberto Alomar, 44. By position, there are: 72 pitchers, 17 catchers, 21 first basemen, 20 second basemen, 15 third basemen, 24 shortstops, 21 left fielders, 23 center fielders, 24 right fielders, 20 managers, 10 umpires and 33 executives.
According to Idelson, when visitors make plans to come to Cooperstown for Induction Weekend they do so partially because of the new inductees. There is also that sense of time travel, he said.
“There are many visitors who return every year because they enjoy the tradition and seeing all their baseball cards come back to life, which is what happens every summer in Cooperstown,” he said.
It is the largest single gathering of hall of famers in one place at one time, Idelson said.
Last year before coming to Cooperstown for Induction Weekend, Hall of Fame knuckleball pitcher Phil Niekro said it is an honor to be a part of such an elite group. He said most of the hall of famers who get to return to the big stage during the induction ceremony didn’t think they would ever get that opportunity, and now that they do, are still in awe.
The Hall of Fame president said, “It is such a small elite group, and it is unlike any other fraternity. It is uncanny how many want to come back every year.”
It is not easy to become a hall of famer. One must either be voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America or through committees that focus on three eras.
Since 1936, the BWAA has held the exclusive voting privilege to consider recently retired players for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It takes 75 percent of the votes on the ballot to get in.
Since, the process has evolved to reflect updated rules, most notably changes to the eligibility criteria and qualifications for earning election.The electorate has remained with the BBWAA since the beginning.