Welcome to What The Hall?

A review of who belongs and doesn’t belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

What do Elmer Flick, Red Ruffing, Stan Coveleski, Will Harridge and Phil Rizzuto have in common? They are all members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame — very good players and baseball executives who had better-than-average careers. But were they Hall of Fame caliber?

What do these people have in common: Buck O’Neil, the first black coach in the Major Leagues; Pete Rose, who holds the record for most career base hits; Hal Chase, whom Babe Ruth called the best first baseman ever; and Eddie Cicotte, the best pitcher — by far — in 1917, with 28 victories and an earned run average or 1.58? They aren’t members, despite statistically outstanding careers.

And what do Tony Gwynn, Nolan Ryan and Cy Young have in common? They were all elected to the Hall of Fame with less than unanimous votes. In fact, every Hall of Fame member was elected with less than a unanimous vote. Even Babe Ruth.

We look at the Hall of Fame selection process and ask whether its membership and structure meet the needs of the 21st Century, and whether the factors that affect voting fairly reflect the meaning of “fame” in baseball.

We will debate the Pete Rose scandal and the so-called New York Factor in Hall of Fame voting. And we’ll see if we can offer concrete suggestions for improving the Hall of Fame selection process.