Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1996 followed the system in use since 1995. The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players but no one tallied the necessary 75% support.
The BBWAA had petitioned the Hall of Fame Board of Directors on January 5, 1995, to reconsider the eligibility of Larry Bowa, Bill Madlock, Al Oliver and Ted Simmons, each of whom had failed to receive at least 5% of ballots cast in each of their first years of eligibility (Bowa and Oliver in 1991, Maddlock in 1993 and Simmons in 1994). The Board approved, but before the ballot was released, the BBWAA decided not to include them on the ballot after all.
The BBWAA was authorized to elect players active in 1976 or later, but not after 1990; the ballot included candidates from the 1995 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 1990. 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 35 players; 470 ballots were cast, with 353 votes required for election. A total of 2,687 individual votes were cast, an average of 5.72 per ballot. Those candidates receiving less than 5% of the vote (24 votes) 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 selected in subsequent elections are indicated in italics. The ten candidates who received less than 5% of the vote, thus becoming ineligible for future BBWAA consideration, are indicated with a *.
|Players who were elected in future elections. These individuals are also indicated in plain italics.|
|Players not yet elected who returned on the 1997 ballot.|
|Eliminated from future BBWAA voting. These individuals remain eligible for future Veterans Committee consideration.|
The newly-eligible players included 20 All-Stars, eight of whom were not included on the ballot, representing a total of 51 All-Star selections. Among the new candidates were 9-time All-Star Fred Lynn and 5-time All-Star Keith Hernandez. The field included two MVPs, Hernandez and Lynn, who was the first player ever to win an MVP in the same year as winning Rookie of the Year.
Players eligible for the first time who were not included on the ballot were: Don Aase, Doug Bair, Thad Bosley, Tom Brookens, Ernie Camacho, Mark Clear, Dave Collins, Jody Davis, Richard Dotson, Jim Dwyer, Terry Francona, Mickey Hatcher, Rick Leach, Larry McWilliams, Greg Minton, Paul Mirabella, Tom Niedenfuer, Dickie Noles, Mike Norris, Ron Oester, Ken Phelps, Joe Price, Domingo Ramos, Ed Romero, Wayne Tolleson, Alex Treviño, Ozzie Virgil, Jr., and Gary Ward.
The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to elect as many as two executives, managers, umpires, and older major league players—the categories considered in all its meetings since 1953. By an arrangement since 1995 it separately considered candidates from the Negro Leagues and from the 19th century with authority to select one from each of those two special ballots.
The committee elected four people again, the maximum number permitted: pitcher Jim Bunning from the 1960s, manager Earl Weaver from the 1970s, pitcher Bill Foster from the Negro Leagues, and manager Ned Hanlon from the 19th century .