Update November 6: Both Jack Morris and Alan Trammell are officially on the Modern Era ballot, but Lou Whitaker did not make the cut. He will be eligible again in 2019.
After spending a lifetime in baseball, the final feather in the cap for a player is being awarded entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It’s an achievement most will not manage, but that doesn’t stop writers from throwing the phrase “future Hall of Famer” around quite liberally.
That said, for Tigers fans there is a trio of names that come across as glaring snubs due to their lack of Hall of Fame inclusion: Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Jack Morris. All three of these Tigers greats have passed the time limit for regular voting selection to the Hall of Fame, which is capped at 10 years (or 15 for Morris and Trammell who were grandfathered in with the old limit). Whitaker, who did not receive the minimum 5% vote in his first year, spent only one year eligible for induction before being permanently dropped. It seemed, to the chagrin of many, that they might not get the lifetime recognition they deserved.
They may still get that chance.
Per the BBWAA (Baseball Writers of America Association), the group that votes annually to include players in the Hall, an inductee must receive 75% of the votes in order to be included, those failing to get in will continue to be included for 10 years, and after that point, their candidacy is dropped from the regular ballot and moved to the Era Committee.
The Era Committee is a group established by the BBWAA to help eliminate weight for Hall of Fame positions from skewing too much to any one era, specifically the classic eras. It is broken into four distinct categories:
- Early Baseball (1871-1949)
- Golden Days (1950-1969)
- Modern Baseball (1970-1987)
- Today’s Game (1988 onward)
Each of these eras is designated a voting year, and the Modern Era is being voted on in 2017. As a result, a list of 10 potential inductee names will be sent to the 16 eligible Era voters. Much like the regular ballot, an inductee must receive 75% of the vote to be inducted. Each of the 16 BBWAA voters may only select four of the 10 names, without the option of write-ins, so inductees would need 12 votes to be included.
While the list of names has not been made public, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, and Lou Whitaker are all eligible to be included in the Modern Baseball ballot, meaning all three could potentially make the list.
The Era Committee meets during the December winter meetings, and the winners of the vote will be announced that same week, with inductees being included in the 2018 Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Should any of them not be on the list, or not meet the 75% requirement, the next voting year for the Modern Baseball era is 2019.
Let’s hope the Era Committee is able to right the wrongs of some egregious snubs, and put these great players where they belong: in Cooperstown. All the better if Whitaker and Trammell make it in the same class.