Eligible candidates must have played at least 10 seasons and must have been active at some time during a period 20 years before and ending five years prior to election.
Induction by the Baseball Writers Assn. of America requires votes from at least 75% of the more than 500 ballots. A six-member screening committee prepares a ballot that includes players who received a vote on at least 5% of the ballots the previous year or are eligible for the first time. The writers have chosen 95 players since the Hall of Fame was established in 1936, including today's inductees Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett.
The 15-member Committee on Baseball Veterans can induct one player a year under current rules, provided he has been retired for 23 years and received at least 60% of the writers' votes in any one year. Pittsburgh Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski is this year's choice. Ninety-three players have been inducted by the Veterans' Committee, which for many years had more liberal standards. For example, the committee let in 11 players in 1946, 10 in 1945 and seven as recently as 1971.
Selection rules state "voting shall be based upon a player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to [his] team."
Executives, managers and umpires can also be chosen by the Veterans' Committee. In addition, special elections were held each year from 1995-2001 for 19th century and Negro League players. Hilton Smith, a Negro League pitcher, will be inducted today.