NEW YORK -- Until recently, Joe Torre thought he was too active to be considered for Cooperstown.
Come Wednesday, though, the New York Yankees' manager might be able to add yet another title to his resume - Hall of Famer.
"It was brought up to me the other day and I had no clue that I was even eligible, to be honest with you," he said this week.
"Because I figured: I'm still working, I'm still collecting a paycheck. All these other people that have gone in, they're done. They hadn't worked," he said.
Instead, Torre is a top candidate in this first election since the Veterans Committee revamped its rules to let actual Hall of Famers do most of the voting. Ron Santo, Gil Hodges and former players' union head Marvin Miller might also fare well when the results are announced at 2 p.m.
It's certainly set up well for Torre. A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday for new Hall members, and it will be held in Tampa, Fla., - about a 10-minute drive from the Yankees' spring training camp.
The 62-year-old Torre was a nine-time All-Star and an MVP as a player and a four-time World Series champion as a manager. The Hall even made a point of encouraging voters to combine all of those achievements in his candidacy - there may be some, however, who won't vote for him until he's retired.
"It's tough to say you belong because of one or the other," Torre said. "You'd like to think that everything should count.
"It certainly would be an honor because ... most of the people that are doing the evaluation are your peers."
That's because of the Veterans Committee's new way of doing business.
For years, many baseball fans claimed the 15-member panel was full of cronyism, suggesting it met behind closed doors in Tampa to choose new Hall of Famers based on speeches, not statistics.
The criticism reached a crescendo in 2001 when they chose Bill Mazeroski, a career .260 hitter known for a great glove and his home run that won the 1960 World Series. His election was enthusiastically announced by committee chairman Joe Brown, who happened to be Pittsburgh's general manager when Maz played there.
So the Hall decided to try it a new way.
The new panel includes 85 members: the 58 living Hall of Fame players (newly elected Gary Carter and Eddie Murray don't get to vote yet), 25 Hall writers and broadcasters, and two members from the former Veterans Committee whose terms had not expired.
"It certainly gives other people a voice in the process," Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer said Tuesday. "I think it's probably a little fairer this way. I think it's a terrific idea."
Palmer said he spent a couple of weeks studying the candidates and wound up voting for about a half-dozen. Among his picks was Carl Mays, who pitched the Boston Red Sox to their last World Series title in 1918.
"I thought his numbers matched up very well to those of some pitchers already in the Hall," Palmer said.
Roger Maris, Tony Oliva, Joe Gordon and Bob Meusel were also among the 26 former players on the ballot. Charlie O. Finley, Dick Williams, Walter O'Malley and Doug Harvey were among the 15 former managers, executives and umpires.
Response was strong: The Hall got ballots from 81 voters. As always, it will take 75 percent for a candidate to be selected - in this case, a person must appear on 61 of the 81 ballots.
Under the old rules, the Veterans Committee met each year. With the new system, the Vets will pick players every two years and will consider managers, executives and umpires every four years.
Santo, who turned 63 Tuesday, was hoping for some good news. The nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove third baseman had both legs amputated because of diabetes.
"I want it at this time because of what I've been through, to be honest with you, health-wise," the former Chicago Cubs star said.
Hodges, who died in 1972, will get consideration because of his achievements as a player and manager.
Hodges was an eight-time All-Star who hit 370 home runs, mostly as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He also guided the 1969 New York Mets to the franchise's first title.
The 85-year-old Miller might get support from many of the players he helped. Free agency came into effect while he was in charge, and salaries zoomed.
"Way back, I didn't think about it - it wasn't on the horizon," Miller said last month. "I began to think about it in a very peculiar circumstance - when Dick Young wrote an article saying I should be in the Hall of Fame. He was the foremost anti-union sports reporter in the country. To hear him say that surprised me very much."
Miller got Palmer's vote.
"He changed the face of the game," the pitcher said.
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