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Veterans Committee hurls another shutout at Hall candidates

For years, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America have been criticized by ex-players for not voting in enough candidates to the Hall of Fame. So for the third consecutive time, when current Hall of Famers had the chance to vote on second-chance candidates as part of the Veterans Committee, what happened? Again, nobody made it.

Cubs great Ron Santo came closest, finishing five votes short of election, in voting results that were released yesterday.

The Veterans Committee consists of the 61 living Hall of Famers, plus 14 broadcasters, eight sportswriters, and one holdover voter from the previous format. Eighty-two ballots were cast, with 62 votes needed for election; Santo got 57.

Also falling short were 283-game winner Jim Kaat (52 votes), Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges (50), and Twins outfielder Tony Oliva (47). Former Red Sox ace Luis Tiant received only 15 votes.

The Veterans Committee votes every two years, and given the outcome of the past three votes, there might be some changes in the process.

"We're being blamed because something hasn't happened," Hall member and vice chairman Joe Morgan told the Associated Press. "If you're asking me, 'Do we lower our standards to get more people in?' my answer would be no."

"We are disappointed that no one has been elected in the three voting cycles," said Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark. "We will be evaluating this process and its trends at our next meeting, which is March 13.

"The board may decide that the trends are not what we thought they were going to be. Perhaps this hasn't worked as well as some of the board members thought it would and maybe it needs a little bit of change."

Before the Veterans Committee was revamped, it consisted of a 15-man panel of old-timers. The last player to be elected by that body was Bill Mazeroski in 2001, a controversial choice that spurred the change.

Billy Williams, Santo's former teammate and a Hall of Famer himself, said, "I felt sorry for him because he was so looking forward to getting that call.

"I talked to Ernie [Banks] yesterday and I think everybody involved wanted it to happen. Maybe we're a little partial to him because we were teammates, but I really thought with the credentials he had, I think he was deserving of the Hall of Fame."

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