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South Side Sox Third Annual Veterans’ HOF Election: No Dice

The ballot, both in our election and the BBWAA veterans’ votes, is too stacked; we’re going to remedy that.

Former Chicago White Sox pitcher Billy Pierce checks out the Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

After finding some modest success electing candidates in our first two Veterans’ elections (Minnie Miñoso in 2019, Dick Allen in 2020 — no coincidence, perhaps, both tipping the scale as White Sox), we were shut out in this third election, as no candidate could hurdle the 75% bar.

Billy Pierce fell six votes short, while the closest non-White Sox candidate was Lou Whitaker, who polled at just 55%. Orel Hersheiser had by far the fewest votes on the 10-man ballot, but even he still polled at 12%.

As with any problem, however, SSS doesn’t take it on the chin. There is a solution, and it will be put into action over the next week or so.

As easy as it is to throw up our hands and criticize the BBWAA for their votes in the broad general election and the specific, hand-picked, 16-voter base for the special elections (the Early Baseball and Golden Days Era voting results are going to be announced in less than 24 hours, and are almost certain to disappoint by advancing just one or two players apiece), the backlog of deserving candidates makes the job exceedingly difficult.

That was proven by our SSS Vet ballot, as it features 10 candidates worthy of enshrinement based on any criteria (OK, if you’re stingy, Mr. or Mrs. Gatekeeper, by a “big Hall” definition). There is no way to get players elected when so many are worthy. Even the current BBWAA Golden Days Era ballot has no more than two candidates of 10 who aren’t Hall-worthy by “big Hall definitions: Tony Oliva and Maury Wills.

If South Side Sox was all together in a room debating these candidates for a day before casting our ballots, perhaps a consensus could be reached (although even for the BBWAA voting, which encourages such discussion among 16 voters, rarely succeeds with a significant election). We don’t have that ability here, unless we all agreed to have a robust “Hall-thread” discussion the day before the ballot is unveiled (not the worst idea, but still).

Now, look at a typical “general election” ballot:

Even with a clear “steroid era” backlog of players lingering, there are 16 or 17 Hall-of-Famers here among 30 candidates — and clearly, guys like Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Jeff Kent, if not others, stand no chance of election over 10 ballots, and would/will find their glory via smaller Veterans’ Committee ballots, years from now.

Point is, though, getting to choose 10 players (of, say, 16 worthy) on a 30-player ballot is a lot more generous than our current Veterans’ ballot (choosing four players of eight worthy, on a 10-player ballot). As the above general election ballot is a bit “watered down” by guy who would never even make the Hall of Very Good, we (and, frankly, the BBWAA subcommittees) need to follow that lead.

So, because I love all of you voters so, we’ll institute that change, in preparation for a second vote.

I have counted 89 players worthy of Hall enshrinement who are not on the current general election ballot, in the Baseball Hall of Fame already, or enshrined in our own White Sox (Veterans’) Hall of Fame. Those players are divided by decade.

Then, I’ll add other worthy players who may fall outside of my Hall definition but who have cause for consideration, and add those to each decade as well. This should have the effect of “watering down” each ballot a bit, as we see in the above 2022 BBWAA ballot.

Then, I will apply the same guidelines the BBWAA vote above (10 of 30, or one-third) or the current BBWAA Veterans’ Committees votes (four of 10, or 40%), which will hopefully steer us to a greater chance of consensus on a few players.

I am going to finish loading up all of the ballots, and the decade with the most candidates will be our first Veterans’ vote (currently, that’s the 1990s) using this new approach. Next year, whichever decade has the most worthy (and near-worthy) candidates, will comprise the ballot.

It’s going to take awhile to compose a 25- or 30-player ballot, so our Veterans’ redux might still be a week off. But, it’s coming, soon.

Any thoughts you may have on the process, feel free to start a discussion in the comments.

Otherwise, stay tuned.