Connie Mack's HOF induction and the 5-year rule

Was there a time when the 5-year waiting rule before becoming eligible for baseball’s Hall of Fame was not in effect?

I know it’s been waived in the cases of Gehrig and Clemente. Actually, for Stengel, too, because he was a pretty old guy when he retired and the BBWA were worried he’d pass on within five years. (This according to Robert Creamer’s great biography, Stengel: His Life and Times. Recommended reading, kids.).

But I see that Connie Mack was inducted as a manager in 1937. Mack continued to manage the Athletics for more than a decade after that. So when was the 5-year rule enacted?

And is anyone out there aware of any other instances where it was waived?

The five year rule was not always in effect. In fact, according to Total Baseball, Gehrig received votes for the Hall in 1936, while he was still an active player. In addition, Ruth was a member of the initial class of Famers, despite having just retired a year earlier.

As for Clemente, the rules state


This allowed the election of Clemente so soon. It allowed voting on Thurman Munson as well.

Managers, executive, umpires, etc. also need to be retired five years. However, the rules again state:

This rule would certainly have allowed Stengel to be elected when he was.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any data on when the five-year rule went into effect.

Zev Steinhardt

Source: Baseball Hall of Fame Rules for Election

The HOF, being a private institution, has the advantage of being able to bend its rules whenever it sees fit. I doubt at the time of Mack’s induction anybody cared too much about his eligibility. The HOF was a novelty in 1937 and I don’t think that the building in Cooperstown had even been constructed by then.

Bob The museum seems to have been dedicated in 1939.

The 5-year rule was in effect in 1939, as they waived it for Gherig. So it had to be invented sometime between 1936 and 1939.

This may be your answer. It says that Connie Mack was elected under the Veterans committee rules. Not as a recent player.

The building may have been dedicated in 1939, but the inaugural class, so to speak, was inducted in 1936. I imagine for the initial inductees they chose the greatest players they could think of, Ruth being one of them.

I’ve always heard it said that Gehrig’s condition made them waive the 5-year rule, but was it indeed in effect then? Mack was well over 65 by then, being born during the Civil War, so Zev’s cite applies to him. I guess that would apply to Stengel as well.

I was sort of hoping that perhaps America’s tallest librarian could dig up info on when the 5-year rule went into effect.

Thanks, all.

There are taller librarians.

The rules of the Veterans’ Committee have changed throughout the HOF’s history and they have never been known for consistency.

OK, now that I’m home I have access to my copy of Total Baseball. In the article about the Hall of Fame, the history of the voting procedures is described.

With the Veterans’ Committee, the first Veterans Committee elections were held in 1936 through 1939. The only requirement was that the player be an “old-timer”. Cy Young received 49% of the vote in the first writers’ election and 41% in the Veterans, which is why he didn’t make it in the first election.

After 1939, there wasn’t a Veteran’s election again until 1944 and again in 1945 and 1946. There was another one in 1949.

In 1953, the Veterans Committee became permanent. Originally players had to wait 25 years, then for a while it was 30 years, then it was 20, then it went back to 25, and now it is 23. There is no waiting period for people over age 65, a rule which was put into place for Casey Stengel in 1966 and recently used for Tommy Lasorda.

The five-year waiting period was instituted in 1954 (with some exceptions). Prior to that it was one year and at first, there was no waiting period.

The waiting period can be waived if the player dies while active (The Roberto Clemente Rule). Players on Major League Baseball’s Ineligible List are also prohibited from receiving votes (The Pete Rose Rule.)

All of this information is from Total Baseball 6.

Incidentally, the HOF, which I had the good fortune to visit when I was in the USA a few years ago has perhaps frequently been regarded as a conservative kind of organisation.

The difficulties over the five-year rule as explained so well by BobTare perhaps a case in point.

But other commentators might want to agree with me when I say:
“I’m gay! I’m gay!! I’m gay - every inch of me - my cute nipples, my thighs and my tattoos - all gay! And it’s lovely being gay! Whoopee!! Whack-oh!! Hoorah!!”
This has been a gay e-guerilla action. We hope it has not inconvenienced any members of the Board (except the one who started the homophobe thread).

Thank you.

But in my opinion you are head and shoulders above them all.

Ain’t it the troot’. I think it’s scandalous that Mazerosky was voted in while Gil Hodges continues to languish. I think the VC has less than pure baseball motivations, in some cases.

Thanks for the info in your home-made post, also. I just found it curious that Mack was elected for his managerial prowess while still a manager (and would be for 13 or so more years). I don’t think anyone else has been so honored while still serving his tenure. And don’t forget Mack was also owner so he had more job security than any other manager. Maybe they did it because, like Stengel, Connie was older than dirt in 1937 and meant a great deal to the game. Who’da thunk he’d live to be 154 years old?