Originally, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York was created to honor the best and most important people in the game’s history. The first class of players—Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb—are some of the biggest names the game has ever seen (how Cy Young was omitted from selection that first year is baffling, given his credentials).
In the decades that have passed since 1936 there have been many more entrants elected to the sacred hallways of Cooperstown, most deserving the honor.
However people are elected for different reasons and different times, and not voting system is perfect. Therefore sometimes those who deserve entry are overlooked for one reason or another, and in other cases people whose merits lack Hall of Fame worthiness are enshrined.
Today there are more ways to get elected to the Hall of Fame then ever before. Players have twenty years from the time they retire to be elected by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA). If they fail to receive the necessary 75 percent of votes in all 15 years on the ballot (after waiting the five-year hiatus post retirement) they are dropped from the ballot.
Any player receiving less than 5 percent of the votes in any given year on the ballot is also dropped. However that is not the end of their chances. A special group set up by baseball and the Hall of Fame, known as the “Veterans Committee,” also votes each year to elect players, executives, umpires and managers of the game who otherwise would not be elected.
Players today also benefit from circumstances players of the past did not—the designated hitter rule, for instance. Players of yesteryear did not have the opportunity to extend their careers by taking off three-quarters of the game while still padding their offensive statistics. And while we have not come up yet on all the bigger named PED users like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and the like, the enhancement of medicine has not hurt today's player either.
This is a look a the top-10 players honored with a plaque in Cooperstown that gained entry when their play on the field did not merit it. Managers, executives and umpires are not factored in. Neither are Negro League players or anyone who’s career ended prior to the modern era (1901-current).