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(Reuters) - The time retired players can remain on writers' ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame has been reduced from 15 to 10 years, officials said on Saturday.
A new balloting process for Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) members who vote also has been installed, requiring a run of 10 consecutive years on the baseball beat to qualify for voting.
The changes, effective immediately, will be reflected in 2015 Hall of Fame voting.
“The board is committed to keeping the policies and voting procedures of the Hall of Fame relevant,” Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., said in a statement.
"The board believes these changes are necessary to ensure the integrity of the voting process moving forward.”
Candidates for Hall of Fame election who do not win election by the baseball writers move to the Era Committee system for review in perpetuity.
Three candidates presently on the BBWAA ballot in years 10 to 15 - Don Mattingly, Alan Trammell and Lee Smith - will be grandfathered into the system and remain under consideration for up to 15 years by the writers group, which is independent of the Hall of Fame.
Of the 211 players enshrined in the Hall of Fame, 115 have been elected by the writers group, with all but 13 in the first 10 years of eligibility, and 96 by Veterans Committees.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry