Will the road to the Hall of Fame go through Wrigley this year?
One of the most intriguing candidates this time around is Ron Santo, the All-Star third baseman of the Chicago Cubs in the 1960s.
Updated: December 30, 2002, 3:20 PM ETBy by Dan Ford, STATS. Inc.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announcing its newest members in the upcoming two months, with the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) publishing its inductees on January 7, and the Veterans Committee checking in on February 26. This will mark the first balloting of the revamped Veterans Committee, which now consists of the 58 living Hall of Fame players, 13 broadcasters who have been awarded the Ford C. Frick Award, 11 baseball writers who have received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and two former Veterans Committee members whose terms have not yet expired. A screening process has narrowed an original list of 200 former players to 26, and candidates now need to be named on 75 percent of the electors' ballots to gain entry into baseball's most hallowed temple. One of the most intriguing candidates this time around is Ron Santo, the All-Star third baseman of the Chicago Cubs in the 1960s, whose history in the BBWAA voting had been the subject of some controversy. First eligible for election in 1980, Santo received little support, garnering just 15 votes among the writers, a mere four percent of the total electorate. That showing knocked him off the ballot until he was reinstated five years later, and from that point he began to steadily pick up votes. At the end of his run, however, he fell far shy of the necessary 75 percent -- his final tally in 1998 came in at 204, third among the eligible players but still 32 percent short of the necessary ballots. There are reasons why Santo has not garnered wide support from the BBWAA: his .277 lifetime batting average paled in comparison to a majority of previous Hall of Fame hitters, and it was pointed out that he spent nearly his entire career in a hitter-friendly home park, Wrigley Field. And the Cubs' failure to advance to the postseason during his career may have deprived him of a national spotlight. In fact, as far as pennant races go, Santo was remembered most as being a integral part of the 1969 Cubs, who swooned in the wake of the Miracle Mets' charge to the championship.