Baseball Hall of Fame gets names for Negro Leagues vote

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A 12-member committee of historians and baseball researchers will consider 39 players and executives from black baseball for induction next year to Cooperstown, officials of the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Monday.

The 39 candidates were the finalists that a five-member screening committee presented to Hall of Fame officials last July after reviewing a five-year study into the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro League baseball.

"Holding the election is extremely important," said Jeff Idelson, vice president of communication and education at the Hall of Fame. "It verifies the research that has been completed over the last five years.

"The myth about how good Negro League players were can now be factually supported from the research."

In 2001, the screening committee, which former Commissioner Fay Vincent served on as a non-voting chair, took a mandate from the Hall of Fame, sifted through Hall-backed research done on black baseball from 1860 to 1960, discussed the data and came up with its candidates for possible induction.

The initial research, which has drew praise for its depth and scope, got a jump start in 2000 with a $250,000 grant from Major League Baseball, said Dale Petroskey, president of the Hall of Fame.

"It's right in our strike zone; baseball history is what we do at the Baseball Hall of Fame," Petroskey said. "We thought there was a real need to know more about the Negro Leagues and the pre-Negro Leagues.

"And once and for all, we have statistics to judge players on."

With the money, the Hall of Fame assembled a 50-person research team in February 2001 that put black baseball under a microscope. The study, which will be published in the next year to 18 months, went to Vincent's screening committee earlier this year, and the committee came up with the finalists.

On its list are more than a handful of players whom Negro League historians have long argued should have been in Cooperstown when the first wave of black players was inducted.

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