The 1948 election to select inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame
proceeded using the same rules as the highly successful election one year
earlier, with the Baseball
Writers Association of America (BBWAA) again authorized to elect
players retired less than 25 years.
But again, the Hall
of Fame Committee did not meet in 1948 to make further selections from
among the players who retired before 1923, or to add names to the Roll
of Honor, causing the renewal of criticism that earlier players, as
well as managers and other non-playing candidates, were being overlooked.
The 10-year members of the BBWAA had the authority to select any
players active in 1923 or later, provided they had been retired since
1946. Voters were instructed to cast votes for 10 candidates; any
candidate receiving votes on at least 75% of the ballots would be honored
with induction to the Hall. If no candidate received votes on 75% of the
ballots, the top 20 candidates would advance to a runoff election, with
the vote totals from the first ballot not being revealed until the runoff
A total of 121 ballots were cast - the lowest total for any BBWAA
election - with 1036 individual votes for 106 specific candidates; 91
votes were required for election. The results were announced on February
27, 1948. The election was a success for the second year in a row
following the most recent format change, with two more inductees to the
Hall being selected; again, no runoff was necessary. Herb Pennock, who
received the most votes and was elected, had died suddenly of a cerebral
hemorrhage just weeks earlier on January 30; he had done increasingly well
in previous elections, and many ballots had already been cast, making it
unclear if his election was primarily due to sentiment (he made it in with
only three votes to spare).
The number of players receiving votes (106) was a significant increase
over the previous year's total of 39, and the highest number since the
1939 election. After the 1947 election in which voters had just a few
weeks to select candidates following the disqualification of players
retired over 25 years, voters in 1948 had a full year in which to look for
candidates who had retired between 1923 and 1946, and a wide variety of
new candidates drew votes. 80 of those named received votes on less than
5% of the ballots, with 36 receiving only a single vote; 45 players were
named for the first time, although all had been eligible at some point in
the past - for some, the 1936 election in which active players were
eligible. All but 3 of the eligible candidates who received any
votes in the 1947 election were again named in the voting.
As had been the case in 1947, the focus was now on the most recent
players; those who retired in the 1920s generally saw their vote totals
decrease from the previous year, while more recent players advanced even
further in the voting. Due to the scarcity of precise historical records,
some voters may have refrained from voting for players of the 1920s due to
uncertainty as to their eligibility. Only 5 of the top 30 candidates, and
none of the top 14, had retired before 1931. Of the 106 players named, 29
retired before 1930; they received only 12% of the vote. These totals
include eight ineligible players who retired before 1923 - including
Johnny Kling, retired since 1913 - who nevertheless received 23 votes;
this may have been due to uncertainty as to their retirement date, or
perhaps as a voter response to the lack of any selections by the
Old-Timers Committee the previous year. Votes for notable managers such as
Miller Huggins increased, perhaps also in response to the lack of 1947
honors in that area.
Chief Bender, who last played regularly in 1917, received 5 votes; he
was technically eligible due to a single inning pitched in 1925, but the
drop from his 1947 total of 72 votes suggests either that most voters were
unaware of that fact or that they viewed it as irrelevant regarding the
spirit of the rules. Dizzy Dean, who finished 8th in the 1947 balloting
with 88 votes, had come out of retirement to start one game in 1947;
nevertheless, 40 votes were cast for him by those who felt that this
single appearance should not affect his retired status and eligibility.
Four other players who made their last major league appearances in 1947,
including Red Ruffing and Stan Hack, got a handful of votes; Joe Medwick,
still active, received one vote.
The induction ceremony in Cooperstown was not held until the following
year, on July 12, 1949, with inductee Pie Traynor present.
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HALL OF FAME
Herb Pennock as seen on his 1933 Goudy baseball card.
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