Weaver destined for Hall?


SARASOTA -- Earl Weaver described himself as "thrilled" upon learning he had made the veterans committee's short list of candidates for nomination to baseball's Hall Of Fame.

The ex-Oriole manager is one of 15 candidates who will be considered in the non-playing category, which also includes those who participated in the old Negro League. A like number of former players are also on the ballot submitted by the screening committee.

A complete list of those who survived the nomination process nominated was unavailable, but it has been confirmed by a committee member than Weaver is included. More than 100 former players, executives, managers, umpires and Negro League greats were reccommended.

"Some people have asked me about it, but this is the first time I knew anything about it," Weaver said from his home in southern Florida. "Naturally, I'm thrilled that I'm at least being considered.

"When you consider how few managers are in, it's an honor just to be compared to the best that ever lived. I'd love to go to Cooperstown and see a plague with Earl Weaver's name on it some day. But when you consider that only one can make it off that list -- it's tough, which is the way it should be."

The consensus seems to be that the fact Weaver's credentials are good enough for consideration in his first year of eligibility is an indication he'll make the Hall Of Fame. The only question is when.

"I don't think there's any doubt that Earl will go in," said the committee member, "but I don't know whether he'll make it in his first year of eligibility.

"There is a little bit of prejudice about electing a guy in his first year," he said. "It seems to be there, not only with the Veterans Committee, but also with the Baseball Writers Association."

The BBWAA annually conducts an election of former players, who must survive a screening committee and a five-year waiting period and attract 75 percent of the vote. The same procedure holds true for the veteran's committee, which is permitted to elect no more than one from each of the playing and non-playing categories. If they nominate anybody this year, those inductees would join Tom Seaver and Rollie Fingers for ceremonies in Cooperstown in July.

The veteran's committee consists of six Hall Of Famers, six members of the media, and six executives. The group is currently one below its capacity because of the resignation of Birdie Tebbetts, a career baseball man who is a special assignment scout for the Orioles.

The voting, and announcement, is scheduled to take place in Tampa March 17. If Tebbetts is not replaced as a voting executive, 13 votes will be needed for election. But if the committee agrees on a replacement, it will be necessary for candidates to get 14 votes in order to clear the 75 percent barrier.

"That's awfully tough," Weaver said when the guidelines were explained to him. "It makes you realize what an honor it is just to be considered."

Weaver's lifetime record is 1480-1060 and his .583 winning percentage is the sixth highest in baseball history -- higher than seven of the 10 managers currently enshrined in the Hall Of Fame.

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