Two for the Hall of Fame

Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  It’s the day when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announces who they’ve elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I’ve had a longstanding fascination with the HOF — baseball’s answer to the canonization of saints — since childhood, to the point that I once did a three-part presentation going over the 72 (not a misprint, SEVENTY-TWO) players, executives, etc. that I thought should be inducted into the Hall.  (About fifteen of them are in now, not that I had anything to do with it.)  This is fun for me.

Anyway, the announcement came down today — here are the voting percentages from this year’s BBWAA ballot (75% needed for election; 5% needed to stay on the ballot for next year):

  • Rickey Henderson 95.4%
  • Jim Rice 76.4%

===========================

  • Andre Dawson 67.0%
  • Bert Blyleven 62.7%
  • Lee Smith 44.5%
  • Jack Morris 44.0%
  • Tommy John 31.7%
  • Tim Raines 22.6%
  • Mark McGwire 21.9%
  • Alan Trammell 17.4%
  • Dave Parker 15.0%
  • Don Mattingly 11.9%
  • Dale Murphy 11.5%
  • Harold Baines 5.9%

===========================

  • Mark Grace 4.1%
  • David Cone 3.9%
  • Matt Williams 1.3%
  • Mo Vaughn 1.1%
  • Jay Bell 0.4%
  • Jesse Orosco 0.2%

Henderson, baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases and runs, was a slam dunk in his first year on the ballot.  Rice was another matter; it was his fifteenth and last chance to be put in by the BBWAA, and he made it by a scant seven votes.  Otherwise he would have had to wait for the HOF’s Veterans Committee to select him — and keep in mind that the Vets finally got around to choosing Joe Gordon, a second baseman who left the major leagues in 1950.  Both of these (and Gordon, too) are good selections, worth of the Hall.

The big disappointments here, in my opinion, are Blyleven and John.  I have been on the Blyleven-for-the-Hall bandwagon for a decade now, and have written up an extensive paper in support of his candidacy.  I won’t reprint it here, because the darn thing runs 21 pages — suffice to say there is ample reason to induct him, and his career was better than half of the starting pitchers who are already in the Hall.  He’s still got a good chance for the future — only one player (Gil Hodges) has ever gotten a higher percentage than Blyleven’s 62.7% and NOT been elected eventually — but this was his twelfth time on the ballot, so the clock is ticking.  John’s career stats are similar to Blyleven’s (and that of several pitchers who are already in), though he wasn’t quite as dominant.  But this was Year 15 for him — we can only hope that the Veterans Committee puts his name up for a vote.  Around 2046.

Had I had a vote, I would’ve chosen Henderson, Rice, Blyleven, John, Dawson, Raines, McGwire and Trammell.  Morris and Murphy are close, and I would’ve been tempted to toss a sympathy vote to Cone.  I expect Dawson to make it in next year (he probably lost votes this time around to Henderson and Rice, fellow outfielders and contemporaries); for the rest, who knows?

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