And this is not a bid to question Ruth's selection at all. The fact that 95.13% of the voters thought he belonged on the first ballot means he belonged in 1936. There had to be bigger debates over which players should have been selected that year, as it represented the first group to go in. Of course, the list included Ty Cobb (98.23), Ruth, Honus Wagner (95.13), Christi Mathewson (90.71) and Walter Johnson (83.63). Other great players like Tris Speaker, Napolean Lajoie and Cy Young did not go in until the next year. What about those who thought Speaker was as dominant as Cobb? Or Young as successful as either Johnson or Mathewson? Odds are those were the writers who slighted some of the first selected players. Could a writer have thought that Speaker, Cobb, Wagner and Young should have been the first in? Perhaps some thought Ruth was baseball and should have been the only one selected. If so, that would have left the others off the first time.
The sad thing about this is how it has effected EVERY other Hall of Fame ballot. The fact that Cobb or Ruth did not receive 100% of the vote the first time made the writers think, "if Cobb and Ruth did not get 100%, no one should." And then it would get into the writers head to a point where many writers would not vote for a player the first time they were eligible, thinking nobody should get 100%. It finally backfired when they failed to give Joe DiMaggio the 75% needed to get in 1954. He only got 66%. Since then, writers have been bitching saying, "if Joe D didn't get in on his first vote, this player should not get in on his first vote." I know there are several other examples of others players that were slighted. But some of it had to do with writers not knowing what year they should vote for a guy and which year they should not. Rogers Hornsby was receiving Hall votes while he was still playing. After missing his 3rd straight season due to service in World War II, DiMaggio received 0.4% of the vote in 1945. Many think the voting process always started exactly five years after the players career had ended. That was not always the case.
The Hall voting process was screwed up by the writers nearly 80 years ago and we still see imprints of those mistakes today. Perhaps had a Ruth or Cobb, or Walter Johnson gotten 100% of the vote, the DiMaggio thing probably does not happen. If the DiMaggio thing does not happen, guys like Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Nolan Ryan, Hank Aaron and Greg Maddux could have gotten 100% of the vote. I think part of the reason it got screwed up was because the early writers had no idea what they were getting into. They also had no idea that what they decided would impact the game for the next 80-180 years. Perhaps had they known, they could have looked at it differently. Similar to the first vote, it was obvious there was no question over whether the players were worthy of the Hall of Fame. All those in question were locks as they represented some of the best to ever play the game. And in the case of the 95+% guys, did any goofy writer really think that the player would not be selected that year before of THEIR omission?
I think it is time for the BBWAA to stop trying to keep a tradition alive that was never meant to be a tradition. That tradition does not deserve to be alive. The first Hall vote was not going to be perfect, so it shouldn't have been used as a precedence for all the other votes. Maybe if more thought about it, there would be a chance that the "tradition" can not be used against these players. I think a player who is worthy of the Hall should have a chance to get 100% of the vote. However, it will never happen because of the silly politics that the baseball writers use to hold the deserving back.