There are 17 names on the 2016 ballot for the Twins Hall of Fame, 16 of which were also on the 2015 ballot that produced no honorees. The newcomer?
That should take care of that no-inductee problem.
The veteran center fielder, who held a press conference to make his retirement official just last week, is on the ballot despite a clause in the shrine’s eligibility rules calling for “a two-year waiting period following retirement from Major League Baseball.” That clause is not only being waived for Hunter, Twins president Dave St. Peter said, but scrapped altogether.
“That rule was originally put in place to make sure you don’t have a Michael Jordan situation, where a player retires and then comes back,” St. Peter said. “But we look at the voting process on a pretty regular basis, and we felt the waiting period isn’t really necessary.”
A 66-member panel of media members, historians, team officials and a “fan vote” cast ballots for the team’s Hall of Fame, a process that St. Peter believes gives credibility to the honor, rather than having the team simply designate honorees. A former player needs more than 60 percent of the vote to be inducted the following summer.
But last year, none of the candidates — Dean Chance, Larry Hisle, Corey Koskie, Dan Gladden, Cesar Tovar and Jacque Jones were among them — cleared that hurdle and the Twins cancelled their usual plans for a Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
With several former Twins who figure to have strong support nearing retirement — Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, to name the most prominent — it made sense, St. Peter said, to space out the potential honorees by putting Hunter on the ballot this year.
“We’re not committed to having somebody inducted every year, but in this case, we feel Torii is a sure-fire member. I don’t know if he’ll be unanimous, but I’m sure he’ll be close,” St. Peter said of the longtime outfielder, who won seven Gold Gloves in Minnesota and ranks fifth on the Twins’ all-time home run list. “I see a nice run of inductees going forward.”
The non-player committee, made up of current Hall of Famers and team officials, will also vote this winter, a deviation from its every-other-year pattern, with former general manager Andy MacPhail, broadcaster John Gordon, former president Jerry Bell, and longtime coach Rick Stelmaszek among the candidates.