DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Who should be the ultimate judge of who belongs in Cooperstown?
Hall of Famers themselves, of course.
For the third time since its creation, the revamped veterans committee pitched a shutout yesterday.
Zero players and builders were elected.
With the 84 voting members of the committee, comprised of living Hall of Famers, winners of the Ford C. Frick award (broadcasters) and J.G. Taylor Spink (writers), 62 votes were required to be named on 75% of the ballots.
Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo had 57 votes (69.5%) to top the player ballot, while ex-umpire Doug Harvey received 52 votes (64.2%) on the composite ballot of managers, executives and umpires.
"We can't get enough guys to agree, (but) that doesn't surprise me," Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr of Illahe, Ore., said.
"I was hoping someone would get elected.
"There are too many groups from different eras. I was hoping for Ron Santo, Gil Hodges and Jim Kaat ... hoping maybe one would get elected."
The former Blue Jays hitting instructor, who turns 89 two weeks into the 2007 season, played second base for the Boston Red Sox for 14 seasons and was Ted Williams' best friend, whether it was at Fenway Park or on a fishing boat. Doerr was elected to Cooperstown in 1986.
This is the third time the veterans committee has voted under the new system. The process to have 61 living Hall of Famers, 14 Frick winners and eight Spink winners vote replaced the 15-man veterans committee.
The committee serves as a court of appeal to consider any candidates overlooked by the Baseball Writers Association of America in the candidates' 15 years on the ballot.
In June, when Bruce Sutter and 17 former Negro Leaguer players were inducted, there was lobbying at the Hall of Famers banquet.
More needs to be done for the shutout streak to end.
"I guess this shows the writers do a good job," Doerr said. "Writers do get first crack.
"We're not putting anyone in, but you can't weaken the system," Doerr said.
"It's complicated when you have players from different eras.
"Guys like (Hall of Famers) Bob Feller, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto are from my era."
Under the present system, voting takes place every four years for owners, umpires and executives and every two years for players.
One suggestion to make things better would be to hold yearly elections for the players. Any voting momentum someone receives doesn't last two (or four) years.
We really can't see a player electing an umpire who rung him up on strike three, a general manager who traded him, or an owner who bargained long and hard on a contract. That vote could be taken away from the players and given to the writers.
We certainly believe Harvey belongs. Our first two years covering ball, we thought every ump's first name was "That no good son of a ..." Yet in Harvey's case it always was the same.
"Well, if God said it was a strike, it was a strike," a dozen players would say to us. He had that much respect.
Marvin Miller, who set the players free from the owners' shackles and founded the players' association, belongs, as do managers Dick Williams and Whitey Herzog.
We always voted for Santo when he was on the writers ballot.
In the 1960s when they played two all-star games, it was either Eddie Mathews or Santo at third for the Nationals. And we always voted for the smooth-fielding, strike-throwing Kaat.
But we'll leave that to the Hall of Famers.
Assuming they vote in majority for someone else to join their exclusive club.