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July 23, 1999|LARRY STEWART

What: "Ruth to Rose to Ryan--60 years of Cooperstown Debates"

Where: ESPN, today, 4:30 p.m. (Repeats July 31, 9 p.m.)

Pull up a chair or set the VCR. This is an excellent, informative show.

There are a number of segments, with the first, reported by Jeremy Schapp, dealing with the debate on who should vote for Hall of Famers. It's now limited to the 500-plus members of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America. Broadcasters such as Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell are excluded. The second segment also deals with the voting process, focusing on the veterans' committee. The third includes some astonishing footage of the first 11 inductees in 1939, and there is a segment on players in the Negro leagues.

There is a segment on Pete Rose, even though the topic has been beaten to death. Then Peter Gammons discusses deserving players who have not been voted in, and the final segment asks if certain criteria--300 wins, 3,000 hits, 500 home runs--should mean automatic inclusion in the Hall.

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