First and last chance: Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice elected to Hall of Fame

Rickey Henderson, baseball’s all-time stolen bases and runs scored leader, and power-hitting outfielder Jim Rice were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in balloting verified by Ernst & Young. They will be inducted into the Hall July 26 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Henderson and Rice will be honored along with former Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon, who was elected last month by the Veterans Committee. The July 26 Induction Ceremony will also include the presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting to Tony Kubek and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing to Nick Peters.

Results | BBWAA inductees

In the BBWAA election, 539 ballots, including two blanks, were cast by members with 10 or more consecutive years of service. Players must be named on 75 percent of ballots submitted to be elected. This year, 405 votes were required. Twenty-seven votes were needed to stay on the ballot.

Henderson was listed on 511 ballots (94.8%) to win election in his first year on the ballot. He becomes the 44th player to be elected by the BBWAA in his first year eligible.

Rice was listed on 412 ballots (76.4%) in his 15th and final time on the BBWAA ballot. He becomes the third player elected by the BBWAA in his final year of eligibility, following Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1975). Rice received seven votes more than the minimum needed for election.

This marks the 24th time the BBWAA has elected two Hall of Famers in the same year. The two new Hall of Famers bring to 289 the number of elected members of the Hall. Of that total, 202 are former major league players, of which 108 have been through the BBWAA ballot. Henderson and Rice are the 20th and 21st left fielders elected and the first since Carl Yastrzemski in 1989. No other position had gone longer without a new Hall of Famer.

Henderson, 50, is Major League Baseball’s career leader in stolen bases (1,406) and runs scored (2,295) and is second all-time in walks (2,190). He was named to 10 All-Star teams and was the 1990 American League Most Valuable Player with the Oakland A’s, with whom he won a World Series title in 1989. Henderson, who played for nine teams over 25 big league seasons, also won a World Series ring in 1993 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He holds the Major League Baseball record for steals in a season with 130, which he set in 1982 with the A’s, and he holds the big league record of 81 home runs leading off games. Henderson received the 13th-highest voting percentage ever, finishing right behind Babe Ruth (95.1%) and just ahead of Willie Mays (94.7%)

Rice, 55, spent his entire 16-year big league career with the Boston Red Sox. The 1978 American League Most Valuable Player finished in the top five of the AL MVP voting five other times, finishing second to teammate Fred Lynn in the 1975 AL Rookie of the Year voting. He led the AL in homers three times, hit .300-or-better seven times and was selected to eight All-Star Games. He is the only player in history to post three straight seasons of 35-plus home runs and 200-plus hits. He finished his career with a .298 batting average, 382 home runs and 1,451 RBIs.

Andre Dawson (361 votes, 67% and Bert Blyleven (338 votes, 62.7%) were the only other players listed on more than half of the ballots. Rounding out the top 10 were: Lee Smith (240 votes, 44.5%); Jack Morris (237 votes, 44.0%); Tommy John (171 votes, 31.6%); Tim Raines (122 votes, 22.6%); Mark McGwire (118 votes, 21.9%); and Alan Trammell (94 votes, 17.4%).

Players remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive at least five percent of the vote. Players who will return to the ballot next year include: Dawson, Blyleven, Smith, Morris, Raines, McGwire, Trammell, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Harold Baines.

Tommy John, who received 31.7% of the vote in his 15th-and-final year of BBWAA ballot eligibility, will be eligible for Veterans Committee consideration in the fall of 2010.

Of the 10 newcomers to the ballot, Henderson was elected and nine others did not receive sufficient support of five percent or more to stay on the ballot.

2009 Hall of Fame

NameVotesPct.Yrs on ballot
Rickey Henderson51194.80%1
Jim Rice41276.40%15
Andre Dawson 36167.00%8
Bert Blyleven 33862.70%12
Lee Smith24044.50%7
Jack Morris23744.00%10
Tommy John17131.70%15
Tim Raines 12222.60%2
Mark McGwire11821.90%3
Alan Trammell9417.40%8
Dave Parker8115.00%13
Don Mattingly6411.90%9
Dale Murphy6211.50%11
Harold Baines325.90%3
Mark Grace224.10%1
David Cone213.90%1
Matt Williams71.30%1
Mo Vaughn61.10%1
Jay Bell20.40%1
Jesse Orosco10.20%1
Dan Plesac00.00%1
Greg Vaughn00.00%1
Ron Gant00.00%1