Hall Of Fame: Henderson On First Ballot; Rice In Last Try

By Thomas Nagorski

Jan 12, 2009 2:43pm

Baseball has always been unpredictable. On any given day, one team can handle another; no-hitters can come from nowhere; a rookie can hit for the cycle, a 45-year-old can win 20 games, and so on. It’s one of the game’s great attractions. Today, the arbiters of Major League Baseball’s highest honors have done something unprecedented: this year’s two elections to the Hall of Fame are a first-time candidate and a player in his last year of eligibility. We knew Ricky Henderson — the all-time leading base-stealer, run scorer and perhaps finest leadoff hitter of all time — was a shoo-in; but things hadn’t looked good for long-time Boston Red Sox star Jim Rice. Henderson received 94.8 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America; Rice sneaked in with 76.4 percent — just a sliver beyond the 75 percent threshold. Henderson became the 44th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Rice was only the third elected in his final year, joining Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1975). The pair will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be joined by former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon, elected posthumously last month by the Veterans Committee. Andre Dawson fell 44 votes short with 67 percent. He was followed by Bert Blyleven (62.7 percent), Lee Smith (44.5), Jack Morris (44.0), Tommy John (31.7) and Tim Raines (22.6). John appeared on the ballot for the final time. Mark McGwire, stigmatized by accusations he used performance-enhancing drugs, received 118 votes (21.9 percent) in his third year of eligibility, down from the 128 votes he got in each of his first two tries. Let the arguments begin (another fine feature of the national pastime). More here — from our pals at ESPN…

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