Why are voters for the baseball Hall of Fame allowed to cast their ballots anonymously?
Because that’s the way the Hall of Fame wants it. And, apparently, that’s not going to change.
The issue of anonymous ballots took center stage during a painfully awkward three-minute interlude at Wednesday’s Manhattan news conference to honor new Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Larry Walker.
One member of the Baseball Writers Association of America out of the 397 who voted in Tuesday’s election did not vote for Jeter, denying the former Yankees captain the chance to join Mariano Rivera as the second unanimous inductee in baseball history. Jeter received 99.7% of the vote.
The person who cast that ballot has, to date, not come forward.
As Jeter and Walker sat on the dais in stoned silence, Hall of Fame president Tim Mead — who was hired last April — erroneously answered a question about why anonymous ballots were allowed by saying it was the BBWAA which wanted it that way.
At that moment, BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell — who was also seated on the dais — said he had to interject. The BBWAA voted in 2016 to make all ballots public, but the Hall of Fame rejected that proposal.
“I need to clarify,” O’Connell said. “The BBWAA made a proposal to the Hall [in 2016] to be completely transparent...and make all the ballots public. But the Hall’s board turned that down. They preferred that the individual decide whether he or she wishes to make the ballot be public. That’s the option this voter has.”
Hall of Fame chairman of the board Jane Forbes Clark was then asked if the Hall was comfortable with that in light of the Jeter situation.
“Yes, we are,” she said.
Earlier, Jeter had been asked what he “would like to ask or say to the one writer who didn’t vote for you.”
There was laughter in the room. But not from Jeter.
“See, that’s where our minds are a little bit different,” Jeter said. “I focus on the ones who did.”