Steinbrenner, Piniella under consideration for Hall
Former Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner and one of his favorite lieutenants, Lou Piniella, were among 10 candidates announced Monday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the Today’s Game Era ballot that will be voted on Dec. 5 during the Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md.
Steinbrenner was one of three executives along with former commissioner Bud Selig and longtime general manager John Schuerholz named to the ballot and Piniella one of two managers along with Davey Johnson. The other five candidates are former players who were passed over previously in elections by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America — outfielders Harold Baines and Albert Belle, first basemen Mark McGwire and Will Clark and pitcher Orel Hershiser.
Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee will earn election to the Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown, N.Y., July 30, 2017, along with any electees who emerge from the 2017 BBWAA election, which will be announced Jan. 18, 2017.
The Today’s Game Era was one of four Eras Committees identified in July when the Hall’s board of directors announced changes to the Era Committee system, which provides an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons.
Steinbrenner purchased controlling interest in the Yankees in 1973 and oversaw the franchise’s path to seven World Series championships. An early adopter in baseball’s free agency era of the mid-1970s, Steinbrenner’s Yankees compiled a winning percentage of .565 and totaled 11 American League pennants in his 37 full years as the team’s owner. Steinbrenner was also influential in various marketing initiatives, including revenue-building enterprises such as cable television, the creation of the Yankees’ own network (YES) and the construction of the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, the year before his death at the age of 80.
Piniella, 73, is being considered for his career as a manager, which included two stints with the Yankees, a team for which he wore many hats. “Sweet Lou,” a fan favorite, served the Yankees as a player, coach, manager, general manager and television analyst. In 23 seasons as a manager for the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs, Piniella won 1,835 games, the 14th highest total in major league history. He won a World Series in 1990 with the Reds in a four-game sweep of the Athletics and piloted the Mariners to an AL-record 116 victories in 2001. He won Manager of the Year Awards in both leagues, in 1995 and 2001 in the AL with the Mariners and in 2008 in the National League with the Cubs. Piniella batted .291 in his 18-season playing career and won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1977 and ’78.
The 10 Today’s Game Era finalists were selected by the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee (disclosure: I am the committee’s chair) from all eligible candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the time period from 1988 through the present.
Eligible candidates include players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 15 or more seasons; and managers, umpires and executives with 10 or more years in baseball. All active executives age 70 or older may have their careers reviewed as part of the Era Committee balloting process, regardless of the position they hold in an organization, and regardless of whether their body of work has been completed.
The Today’s Game Era ballot was determined this fall by the HOC comprised of myself as well as 10 other veteran historians: Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (formerly New York Daily News); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (MLB.com); Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); Dave van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).
The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Today’s Game Era ballot will be announced later this fall. The Today’s Game Era Committee will meet twice in a five-year period, with the next meeting scheduled for the fall of 2018.
The Eras Committees consist of four different electorates: Today’s Game (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1988 to the present); Modern Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1970 to 1987); Golden Days (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1950 to 1969); and Early Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball prior to 1950).
The Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras will be considered twice each in a five-year period, with the Golden Days era considered once every five years and the Early Baseball era considered once every 10 years.