This news about Pete Hill piqued my interest, and Brad Horn -- senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum -- was kind enough to answer a few of my questions last week, via e-mail ...
Rob Neyer: In the wake of the wonderful news that Pete Hill's Hall of Fame plaque is being "recast" -- to reflect information discovered since his induction -- a question occurred to me ... What happens to the old plaque? (I know this has come up before, as other plaques -- most notably, Jackie Robinson's -- have been changed.)
Brad Horn: The original Hill plaque is actually being re-cast. The original is at the foundry presently and will have the formal name updated from "Joseph Preston Hill" to "John Preston Hill" when unveiled on 10/12.
Old plaques are kept in our Collections and used for educational purposes. Roberto Clemente's original plaque is a part of our Sandlot Kids Clubhouse, to tell the story of how the name was changed to reflect the Latin American heritage. Robinson's plaque has been used occasionally; most recently, taken to a Tri-City ValleyCats game this summer for Jackie Robinson Night.
RN: According to the press release announcing the new Pete Hill plaque, "As a history museum it is our job to foster that research and further the knowledge that research creates. Thanks to the diligent work of researchers from inside and outside the Hall of Fame walls, Pete Hill’s proper place in history will be preserved in perpetuity.”
Considering the Museum's job of fostering research and furthering knowledge, when might we see the full fruits of the research that was initially completed five years ago? I know there's been talk about a book, but at some point don't the benefits of releasing the information outweigh the possibility that someday a book will be published?
Horn: The primary research output goal of the Negro leagues research was realized with the publishing of the "Shades of Glory" book, released by National Geographic Books in 2006.
The complete 1,000-page research manifesto is available to researchers in Cooperstown by visiting the Giamatti Research Center. It is the intent to make available much of this research through the Hall of Fame's web presence in a future format.
RN: Historically, there's been a category of Hall of Fame inductees that includes "pioneers." However, it's been many, many years since anyone has actually been elected from that category. I know you can't discuss specific candidates, but can you walk us through the steps necessary -- assuming it's still possible -- for a candidate to be elected as a pioneer?
Horn: Pioneers are interchangeable with executives, as a category. We recognize four classes in the Hall of Fame -- players, managers, umpires and executives/pioneers. The last executives/pioneers elected came in 2008, as both Barney Dreyfuss and Walter O'Malley were elected.
The committee formerly known as the Veterans Committee now considers candidates by era instead of by category, and will be voted upon by a 16-member electorate annually at the Winter Meetings, with the ballots set by the BBWAA Historical Overview Committee, setting ballots based on the best candidates by era, regardless of classification.
This December, for induction in 2011, the Expansion Era (1973-present) electorate will consider a 12-name ballot. In 2012, the Golden Era (1947-1972) electorate will review a 10-name ballot and in 2013, the Pre-Integration Era (1876-1946) electorate will consider a 10-name ballot.
Ultimately, the ballot responsibilities are left to the BBWAA HOC to determine the best candidates, regardless of classification, to fill the Era under consideration.
In response to my follow-up question, Horn said the "electorate" -- the members of which will be announced soon, along with the Expansion Era ballot -- is composed of 16 members, including media types, Hall of Famers, and executives. Meanwhile, here's the BBWAA Historical Overview Committee that devises the ballot: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Ken Nigro (formerly Baltimore Sun); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA secretary/treasurer); Glenn Schwarz (formerly, San Francisco Chronicle); Claire Smith (ESPN); Tracy Ringolsby (FSN Rocky Mountain); and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register).
Next time, I'll ask Horn what's so "Golden" about 1947-1972, and what's so "Expansion" about 1973-present ...