The Hall of Fame dais in Cooperstown remains at four.
Baseball's Veterans Committee didn't elect anyone yesterday, leaving former Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs, Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman and former Boston Globe writer Peter Gammons to be honoured July 31.
Four years ago the committee's selection process was tightened after Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski and former Negro League star Hilton Smith were elected in March 2001.
Groucho Marx used to say he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.
Under the new format, the committee no longer consists of a small group of former players and historians. The living Hall of Famers, (players, writers and broadcasters, 83 in all) decide who joins. All but three turned in ballots.
And as in 2003, they tossed a shutout yesterday. Ron Santo, a former Cubs third baseman whom I always voted for when he was on the writer's portion of the ballot, and former Brooklyn Dodger Gil Hodges each fell eight votes short.
Each was named on 52 of 80 ballots for 65% -- 75% was required for election. In 2003, Hodges was 11 shy and Santo 15 shy. The Hall of Famers are tough markers.
Former Minnesota Twin Tony Oliva had 45 votes, followed by ex-Twins lefty Jim Kaat with 43 and former Brave Joe Torre with 36.
"The committee gives players a second chance for consideration ... each player on the ballot was considered for up to 15 years by the Baseball Writers' Association of America," Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. "The results of the past two elections show that the writers -- by and large -- have done a great job of electing players to the Hall of Fame."
We have met and known a few Hall of Famers over the years, but in Gammons, a Spink award winner and now of ESPN, this is the first time to see a friend inducted.
In 1979, my first year covering the Montreal Expos, I heard the phrase "Peter Gammons wrote ..." more often than "now batting."
Eventually, we found a newspaper shop which sold the Boston Globe, a day late. It cost about $3.50. In my younger years at age 29, the post-game routine was the same:
Take the Metro downtown and head to a bar. For research, you understand. Yet, never on Mondays. On Mondays I'd get the Sunday Globe, sit in a quiet corner of a restaurant and read Peter's weekly Sunday notes package.
I'd read the whole sports section and re-read Peter's page again. The depth of information within was staggering.
Years later in 1987, I was traded to the American League and met Peter for the first time on the roof of old Fenway Park when the Blue Jays visited.
SPOKE EVERY FRIDAY
For years we spoke every Friday. I was always under the assumption that his lovely wife, Gloria, said good night to Peter on Thursday and good morning on Saturday -- he spent so many hours on the phone.
Peter was right about Rickey Henderson coming to the Jays in 1993 and countless other stories.
Watching Peter at ball parks always impressed me: He had time to stop and talk to the superstar, the 25th man, the equipment man or the fan who asked about a prospect at double-A New Britain.
The same went for writers, whether it was a a columnist from the No. 1 paper or a beat man from a suburban paper.
I didn't see Peter his first year covering the Sox, but my guess is he had the same enthusiasm then as he does today.
That can be said for only a few people in this business.