By Craig Muder
They appeared as if by magic, strolling down the hotel corridor one-by-one on an overcast Florida morning.
At dawn Sunday, it was just another meeting room. But by mid-morning, it had turned into a who’s who of Hall of Famers, executives and media members.
The Expansion Era Committee was ready to convene.
We’ll know the results at 10 a.m. ET on Monday, when the voting results are revealed. Eight players, three executives and one manager were considered by the Committee – and any candidates receiving 75 percent of the vote will be enshrined in Cooperstown as part of the Class of 2011.
For those candidates, the next few hours will undoubtedly be filled with anticipation.
Last year at this time in Indianapolis, Whitey Herzog was being considered by a Hall of Fame committee. This year in Orlando, Herzog is a member of the Expansion Committee – entering the meeting room relaxed and confident after his inspiring Induction Speech this summer.
“Being enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame,” said Herzog on July 25 in Cooperstown, “is like going to heaven before you die.”
Johnny Bench was the first of the Committee members to arrive on Sunday, and was quickly followed by ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. Kurkjian later found Committee member Frank Robinson and greeted him with a handshake before the two entered the conference room.
Altogether, the 16-member Committee of Bob Elliott, Bill Giles, David Glass, Andy MacPhail, Eddie Murray, Ross Newhan, Tony Perez, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, Tom Verducci, Bench, Herzog, Kurkjian, Palmer and Robinson faced a challenging morning as they considered 12 worthy candidates. But these are men accustomed to facing – and meeting – challenges.
After the meeting, the Committee members went their separate ways. In a flash, their job was done. And yet the results will live on forever – as history was made Sunday, whatever the voting outcome.
For now, we – the fans, the baseball world and the candidates – wait.
Tomorrow, we’ll know. For unlike the Presidential election 10 years ago, this Florida ballot promises to produce a clear-cut result.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.