Election to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be easy.
Voting for the Class of 2020 starts Monday when eligible members of the Hall of Fame receive their ballots.
There are 12 candidates on the ballot this year, and Hall of Famers can vote for as many as 7 candidates – or none if they believe no one meets the qualifications. If the trend of the past 2-3 years continues, maybe half the candidates will be elected. (Our goal is to announce the Class of 2020 by mid-August.)
So, why is it so hard? What does it take to be elected?
It’s hard because it is supposed to be hard to be selected to a Hall of Fame, any Hall of Fame!
It’s not supposed to reward longevity or to reward being friendly with Hobbs’ core family, i.e., me or my dogs. We said that from the beginning.
Despite what some think, Tom Giffen has ONE vote, either as one of the 66 eligible Hall of Fame voters or as one of the 14 members of the Board of Trustees. Yeah, you say, but if the Geezer tells people who he likes, well, that takes care of everything. To that I invite anyone to ask any HoF member or Trustee if I ever “politicked” for a candidate.
I am totally confident of that answer. I know that’s the target on my back, and I accept it. But I am also confident in my integrity in that regard.
But why is it so hard?
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is looking for excellence, period.
The qualifications for nominees outline that excellence and require concrete examples of that excellence.
For Roy Hobbs, then, it is as much about exceptional character as anything. That theme runs through the qualifications listed on the nomination form and on the questionnaire that we ask the nominator and the references to complete.
Yes, players are eligible, but what they do on the field – their excellence has to be documented and statistics help – is only part of the equation. There is also leadership and character. What they do outside the white lines is equally important.
This is not the Baseball Hall of Fame where statistical standards reign as guidelines, good ones for the voters, who, even though they might never have stood in a batter’s box seeing a curve ball seemingly focused on their head, bring their own biases and opinions to their ballot.
This is far more selective, and we believe Hall of Famers should be instrumental in selecting future members of their club. They know what it takes to be there.
Roy Hobbs has 66 Hall of Famers eligible to vote. While not all do vote, to be elected, a candidate must be named on 70% of the returned ballots. Say 50 ballots are returned – that requires 35 votes!
And it is hard for the voters. Not only do we as the Board of Trustees spend the time and effort to gather information on the candidates, we ask the voters to spend the time and effort to get to know the candidates, their achievements and their character. No, no photos – that surely opens the popularity can of worms.
So, it’s tough, across the board, no question. It should be!
What does it take to be elected to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame?
Besides the 70%? Excellence!
The process is demanding. In addition to basic data, we ask nominators to answer 3 leadership/character questions, to provide a list of accomplishments, honors and awards as well as statistical data with regard to players. We set AAAA competition level expectation for players as well. We ask the nominator to get 2 references to back up the nomination, 2 people who will answer the same questions as well. This year, we actually had several references who had no idea they ‘volunteered’ as references. How sad is that!
And we require that the nominator and references not just tell us how good their candidate is but to SHOW us as well. And, that is NOT easy.
You probably wouldn’t be surprised at the number of GOOD guys who are nominated. You shouldn’t be as you know from playing at the RHWS, there are thousands of good guys on the field. You know that because you look forward to seeing them and spending time competing with them. Our guess is that out of 4000 participants each year, 3800 are good guys.
After we get the nominations, a member of the Trustees calls the nominator and references, talks to them about what’s needed and sends out the questionnaire with a remember to call back if they have questions. We get that document back and we compile those along with the Nominator’s comments and the achievement data.
We have a checklist of qualifications for the HoF that we ask voters to review before they get to know the candidate through the data gathered. Producing that data on the candidates is hard work; combing through it to meet the candidates requires time and effort as well.
Here is a snapshot of the qualifications checklist:
1) a minimum of 15 years involvement in Roy Hobbs on the house-league level or the RHWS;
2) sustained, documented excellence within the area of nomination (player, administrator, manager, umpire, etc.);
3) sustained, documented leadership excellence within the area of nomination;
4) demonstrated exceptional character on the field, in the dugout, among teammates, and by extension, in the community;
5) “Is this candidate exceptional across the board?”
6) Finally, don’t just tell us, SHOW us. Provide concrete examples of excellence in each of the areas.
As you can see, this is about character, how these individuals impact their teammates, their dugout, the game itself and, by extension, their community.
The Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is looking for the BEST of the BEST. Help us find them.