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THE INSIDE TRACK | NOW YOU KNOW

March 06, 1997|HOUSTON MITCHELL and Source: "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame" by Bill James.

Phil Niekro, who was elected to the Hall of Fame earlier this year, had to wait until five years after he retired to be eligible for consideration. Tom Lasorda retired last season and was named to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Why didn't he have to wait?

At one time, managers did have to wait five years to be eligible, but at baseball's winter meetings of 1965, the Baseball Writers Assn. of America passed a resolution asking the Hall of Fame trustees to set aside the five-year rule and immediately elect Casey Stengel. Stengel, 74, had recently retired as manager of the New York Mets and was in failing health.

The trustees amended the rules for managers so Stengel could get in before his death. Stengel's health improved soon after, and he died in 1975.

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