Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1971 featured a new committee on the Negro Leagues that met in February and selected Satchel Paige. The museum planned to honor Paige and those who would follow in a special permanent exhibit outside the Hall of Fame but controversy about the nature of the honor began at the event announcing his election, February 9, and continued until the induction ceremonies six months later. At the latter event Paige was inducted to the Hall of Fame itself, the same as the major league figures.
Otherwise the elections continued a system of annual elections in place since 1968. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and elected no one. The Veterans Committee met in closed-door sessions to select from executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players. It elected seven, the biggest year in its 1953 to 2001 history: Dave Bancroft, Jake Beckley, Chick Hafey, Harry Hooper, Joe Kelley, Rube Marquard, and George Weiss.
The BBWAA was authorized to elect players active in 1951 or later, but not after 1965; the ballot included candidates from the 1970 ballot who received at least 5% of the vote but were not elected, along with selected players, chosen by a screening committee, whose last appearance was in 1965. All 10-year members of the BBWAA were eligible to vote.
Voters were instructed to cast votes for up to 10 candidates; any candidate receiving votes on at least 75% of the ballots would be honored with induction to the Hall. The ballot consisted of 48 players; a total of 360 ballots were cast, with 270 votes required for election. A total of 2,681 individual votes were cast, an average of 7.45 per ballot. Those candidates receiving less than 5% of the vote will not appear on future BBWAA ballots but may eventually be considered by the Veterans Committee.
Candidates who were eligible for the first time are indicated here with a †. Candidates who have since been elected in subsequent elections are indicated in italics.
|Players who were elected in future elections. These individuals are also indicated in plain italics.|
|Players not yet elected who returned on the 1972 ballot.|
|Eliminated from future BBWAA voting. These individuals remain eligible for future Veterans Committee consideration.|
|Pee Wee Reese||127||35.3||3.0%|
|Johnny Vander Meer||98||27.2||2.1%|
The field of newly eligible players included 13 All Stars, 7 of whom were not included on the ballot, representing a total of 70 All Star selections. The new class included 18-time All-Star Yogi Berra, 15-time All-Star Nellie Fox, 6-time All-Star Vic Power, and 5-time All-Stars Dick Donovan and Roy Sievers.