The British Baseball Hall of Fame began life in 2009 with the aim of recognising key contributors to the game, promoting the sport’s roots in this country and encouraging further research into its history.
25 people were elected over the first seven years of the Hall and the 2016 class has added four more.
Alex Malihoudis, Oscar Marcelino and John Thomas have all been elected through the traditional ballot, with Wally O’Neil becoming the first-ever inductee via a new historical vetting panel.
As an elector, and current secretary, for the British Baseball Hall of Fame it’s been great to see the interest on social media that the new class has created.
Our Hall of Fame is a very different beast to that of MLB. We do not have the endless records of playing stats or clear ways in which we can try to accurately assess and compare contributions from different eras. We do not have a uniform standard – statistical milestones or longevity criteria – on which to clearly validate a ‘Hall-of-Famer’ from a ‘mere’ very good servant to baseball. There is no simple way to compare a British baseball lifer against someone who shone briefly on these shores (especially when their baseball ability – as player or coach – is part of why they left, to seek greater competition or to make a career out of the game).
There is an element of subjectivity about it all – albeit framed by an open floor for nominations, clear rules on election and a group of electors who put careful consideration into their decision to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for every case – but I find that one of the most appealing parts about it.
The Hall of Fame doesn’t claim to be the definitive source for ‘the greats’ of British baseball, much as we feel all those elected are very worthy of their place.
One of the points of the Hall is not just to celebrate those in it, but to get people to think about who else they feel should be in it. To look at a new entrant and think “oh yes, they were really good, but what about ….”. To start delving into local newspaper clippings and find a local hero from decades ago who, bit by bit, starts to reveal an instriguing story that has been lost through time but can now be brought back to life.
The BBHOF website contains bios for all those elected and as a collection they already provide a unique insight into the game across the best part of 100 years. There are plenty more stories to be discovered and they will undoubtedly produce more people who have a case to join the Hall. We have a rich history to celebrate, alongside a prosperous future, and that’s something all of us can enjoy.