Recently retired players are the lone category considered exclusively by the BBWAA. Various forms of the veterans committee have considered others for 75 years.
In 2010, changes were made so that there would be a three-year cycle of consideration for managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players as opposed to the previous consideration by classification by committees on baseball veterans. The three eras are Expansion (1973 to present), Golden (1947 to 1972) and Pre-Integration (origins through 1946). The Veterans Committee has been a part of the Hall of Fame voting process since its first class, with the first electees coming in 1937. In all of its forms, the Veterans Committee elected 159 individuals into the Hall of Fame.
This year, A 16-member Pre-Integration Era Committee voted three men into Hall — most notably Jacob Ruppert, Yankees’ owner from 1915 until his death in 1939. Umpire Hank O’Day and 19th century catcher/third baseman Deacon White also earned election.
Of the 77 election years (1936-2012) there have been 68 election years and nine years when no elections were held (1940, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965).
The BBWAA ballot featured 37 players this year, which included 24 new candidates. The chances of getting into the Hall of Fame is slim, but being a first-time electee is even more unique.
Idelson said it is very hard to get elected into the baseball shrine on the first attempt. For example, he said, even a high-caliber player like Joe DiMaggio does not get elected right away. DiMaggio was first added to the ballot in 1953. He was not elected until 1955 when he received 88.84 percent of the vote.
Forty-four players have been elected in their first year of eligibility (11 pitchers, seven right-fielders, six left-fielders, four center-fielders, five shortstops, three second-basemen, four third-basemen, two first-basemen, one designated hitter and one catcher; position based on where electee played the majority of his big league games). In seven of the last 12 elections, at least one player has been elected in his first year of eligibility. Other than the inaugural Hall of Fame election, 1999 is the only year where as many as three first-year candidates were elected at once. It should be noted that Lou Gehrig (who received votes in 1936 while active and then was elected by acclamation in 1939) and Roberto Clemente (by special election in 1973) were each elected through a non-traditional process and are not counted in the 44.