Bruce Sutter elected to Hall of Fame

Bruce Sutter, who revolutionized the split-fingered fastball and was among the first of the closing relief pitcher specialists, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Jan. 10 by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in balloting verified by Ernst & Young. He will be inducted into the Hall July 30 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

A record 520 ballots, including 12 blanks, also the most in voting history, were cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service, eclipsing by four the previous mark of 2005 when Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were elected. Players must be named on 75 percent of ballots submitted to gain election. This year, 390 votes were needed.

Results | BBWAA inductees

Sutter was listed on 400 ballots (76.9 percent) to gain election in his 13th year on the ballot, the longest interval in 51 years since Dazzy Vance’s election on what was his 16th ballot. Players could stay on the ballot for up to 20 years in 1955 when Vance was elected. Since 1962, the limit has been 15 years. Ralph Kiner was also elected in his 13th year on the ballot in 1975. Sutter finished 43 votes shy of election last year.

His election brings to 261 the number of elected members of the Hall. Of that total, 196 are players, of which 103 have been through the BBWAA ballot. Sutter is the first pure reliever elected to the Hall. All 661 of his major-league appearances were in relief. Other relievers in the Hall are Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley, but they also were starters during their careers.

Another reliever, Goose Gossage, finished third in the balloting with 336 votes (64.6), one behind second-place finisher Jim Rice, the slugging outfielder who was named on 64.8 percent of the ballots. The only other players to be listed on more than half the ballots were outfielder Andre Dawson with 317 votes (61) and pitcher Bert Blyleven with 277 (58.3). Rounding out the top 10 were Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Tommy John, Steve Garvey and Alan Trammell.

Of the 14 players on the ballot for the first time, only two received sufficient support to remain in consideration, pitcher Orel Hershiser and outfielder Albert Belle. Players must be listed on five percent of the ballots (26 this year) to stay on the ballot for up to 15 years. Hershiser had 58 votes (11.2) and Belle 40 (7.7).

Also dropping off the ballot in his second year was outfielder Willie McGee (2.3). Other holdovers who will remain on the ballot are Dave Parker (14.4), Dave Concepcion (12.5%), Don Mattingly (12.3%) and Dale Murphy (10.8). Next year will be Garvey’s last year on the ballot.

Sutter, who turned 53 Sunday, led the National League in saves five times and ranks 19th on the all-time list with 300 in a career cut short to 12 seasons due to injury. He had a 68-71 record and 2.84 ERA combined with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. The righthander, a native of Lancaster, Pa., was the NL Cy Young Award winner with the Cubs in 1979, finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting five times and was 2-0 with three saves and a 3.00 ERA in six postseason games. He was the closer on the Cardinals’ last World Series championship team, in 1982.

The six-time All-Star had one season of 40 or more saves and four seasons of 30 or more. He was named the NL Fireman of the Year by the Sporting News once and the NL Rolaids Relief Award winner four times.

PlayerVotes (Pct.)
Bruce Sutter400 (76.9%)
Rich "Goose" Gossage336 (64.6%)
Andre Dawson317 (61.0%)
Bert Blyleven277 (53.3%)
Lee Smith234 (45.0%)
Jack Morris214 (41.2%)
Tommy John154 (29.6%)
Steve Garvey135 (26.0%)
Alan Trammell92 (17.7%)
Dave Parker75 (14.4%)
Dave Concepcion65 (12.5%)
Don Mattingly64 (12.3%)
Orel Hershiser58 (11.2%)
Dale Murphy56 (10.8%)
Albert Belle40 (7.7%)
Will Clark23 (4.4%)
Dwight Gooden17 (3.3%)
Willie McGee12 (2.3%)
Ozzie Guillen5 (1.0%)
Hal Morris5 (1.0%)
Gary Gaetti4 (0.8%)
John Wetteland4 (0.8%)
Rick Aguilera3 (0.6%)
Gregg Jefferies2 (0.4%)
Doug Jones2 (0.4%)
Walt Weiss1 (0.2%)
Gary DiSarcina0
Alex Fernandez0