Odds against election into the Baseball Hall of Fame are overwhelming: about 70-to-1 for the typical major-leaguer. Entering in the first year of eligibility is even tougher: Only one out of about seven Hall of Famers entered on their first try.
To qualify for the ballot, a player must have played at least 10 years in the major leagues and be retired for five -- requirements that are sometimes waived for special cases, such as the untimely death of Roberto Clemente in 1972. Addie Joss had 160 victories and a career earned run average of but was one game short of 10-year status when tubercular meningitis killed him just before the opening of the 1911 season. He was finally admitted by the Veterans Committee in 1978.
The stringent rules for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame
have been bent for some players, such as Addie Joss.
There are only 17 people elected from outside the US, including only one player from the eastern hemisphere (Bert Blyleven, born in The Netherlands). The first foreign induction overall was in just the third year of the Hall. Henry Chadwick, famous for cultivating America’s interest in baseball, was born in England and voted in posthumously. It would take until 1973 for a foreign-born player to be elected to the hall. Roberto Clemente was born in Puerto Rico in 1934, and elected in special circumstances after he died in an off season airplane crash.