While it might seem like every big-name ballplayer earns a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it's actually very hard to be elected into the Hall of Fame. In fact, the odds against it are about 70 to 1. There are no statistical guidelines for a player to meet in order to be chosen. Rather, members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will vote based on the candidates' abilities, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the sport.
There are also special committees that have the power to elect baseball personalities. The only hard-and-fast rules for eligibility are that the inductee must have played in the major leagues for at least 10 years, and he has to have been retired for at least five years before being chosen. Once a screening committee nominates players for the ballot, those nominees remain on the ballot for 15 years if they aren't elected (unless they get less than 5 percent of the vote) [source: National Baseball Hall of Fame].
But is it just players who are inducted into the Hall of Fame, or can a sportswriter get a plaque there, too? There is only one plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for a writer. Henry Chadwick was a sports journalist with the "Brooklyn Eagle" newspaper in the mid- to late 1800s, and in 1868, he wrote "The Game of Base Ball," the first hardcover book about the sport [source: National Baseball Hall of Fame]. A true baseball pioneer, Chadwick came up with a system for scorekeeping and designed the first box score. He also served as a chairman on an early rules committee, through which he helped refine the game itself. In addition, Chadwick indirectly influenced the establishment of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
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