The 1945 Hall of Fame ballot was completely insane
If you think the current Hall of Fame logjam is impressive, then just take a gander at the 1945 ballot.
Thanks in part to the excellence of candidates both this year and to come in the near future and thanks in part to the punitive voting habits of some BBWAA members, we're likely headed toward a Hall of Fame bottleneck. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine anything will compare to the ballot way back in 1945, which can best be nicknamed "Leviathan Blob-Thicket." Come with me, won't you?
The list of players who received votes is simply too long, too prolix to be captured by a mere browser screenshot. In fact, it is too long, too prolix to be captured by three normal-sized screenshots. Instead, here's a patently unreadable zoomed-out capture of the -- prepare yourselves -- 95 players who received at least one vote for the Hall that year. Once more for fitting emphasis: Ninety-slapping-five names; patently unreadable ...
Among those 95 names are 56 who would go on to be Hall of Famers, either through the BBWAA or Veterans' Committee (read: service entrance). Frank Chance led all vote-getters, named on 72.5 percent of ballots. Obviously, that means no player in 1945 qualified for induction on the BBWAA's watch (10 names, however, were chosen by the Veterans' Committee).
That odd result led to a couple of important changes: The BBWAA would, starting in 1946, vote every year for the Hall of Fame. As well, they for a time instituted two rounds of voting so as to whittle down any potential 1945-style lists. For some perspective, recall that this year's ballot contains 37 names, of which maybe 20 or so will receive even one vote.
What was to blame for such a stampede of eligibles? Dennis Corcoran, in his book Induction Day at Cooperstown, explains some of what was going on ...
So noted. (Also noted: It's 95 candidates, not 94.). It's worth remembering that the voting process was less than a decade old at the point, and the BBWAA was still in the "fits and starts" phase of things, in addition to being charged with vetting, as Corcoran notes, almost 50 years' worth of players.
If nothing else, the ballot in '45 makes what's ahead for us look like the quintessence of simplicity.
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