For the first time in the 83 years of Baseball Writers’ Association of America balloting for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a player has been elected by a unanimous vote. Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in saves, was named on all 425 ballots cast to earn election to the Hall of Fame with fellow pitchers Mike Mussina and the late Roy Halladay and designated hitter-third baseman Edgar Martinez.
They will be honored as part of the Hall’s Induction Weekend July 19-22 in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with relief pitcher Lee Smith and designated hitter-outfielder Harold Baines, who were elected in December by the Today’s Game Era Committee.
Also being honored that weekend will be the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting, the late Al Helfer, and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for writing, Jayson Stark.
To earn election to the Hall of Fame, players must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by eligible members of the BBWAA. The cutoff point this year was 319. Halladay, who like Rivera was on the ballot for the first time and Martinez, who was on the ballot for the 10th and final time, each received 363 votes, which accounted for 85.4 percent. Mussina, who was on the ballot for the sixth time, received 326 votes for 76.7 percent.
Rivera’s perfect score eclipsed the previous record for plurality attained by center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., who totaled 437 votes out of 440 cast — 99.32 percent — in 2016.
The only other players who were named on more than half the ballots were pitchers Curt Schilling with 259 votes (60.9) and Roger Clemens (59.5) and outfielders Barry Bonds (59.1) and Larry Walker (54.6). Players may remain on the ballot for up to 10 years provided they get five percent of the vote, which this year was 22. In his last year on the ballot, first baseman Fred McGriff received 169 votes (39.8). His case will go under consideration for the Today’s Game Era Committee in 2021. There were 16 players who failed to make the five-percent cut, all first-time candidates.
This year marks the second consecutive election and the fifth overall that four players have been elected by the BBWAA in the same year. It has occurred five times overall and three times in the past five ballotings. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman were elected last year. The other years were 1947 (Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch), 1955 (Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons, Dazzy Vance) and 2015 (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio). The record total remains the original class of 1936 with five members (Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson).
In that first election, Wagner and Ruth received the same amount of votes — 215 out of 226 ballots cast (95.1) — the only time two players were elected with the same vote total in the same year before Halladay and Martinez this year.
Rivera, 49, spent all 19 of his major-league seasons with the New York Yankees, was a key figure in five World Series championships and set career records in saves (652) and games finished (952). He also shares the mark with fellow Hall of Fame reliever Trevor Hoffman for most seasons with 40 or more saves (9).
Known to teammates and fans as “Mo,” Rivera also holds the all-time postseason records for lowest earned run average (0.70), games pitched (96) and saves (42) and World Series records for games pitched (24) and saves (11). Rivera was 8-1 over 32 postseason series, including seven World Series. He is the second Hall of Famer who was born in Panama. The other is infielder Rod Carew, who was elected by the BBWAA in 1991.
Rivera was the MVP of the 1999 World Series and the 2003 American League Championship Series. A 13-time All-Star, Rivera was the MVP of the 2013 game at New York’s Citi Field. He allowed only 11 earned runs in 141 postseason innings. The AL award for relievers is named for Rivera, who was the last player to wear uniform No. 42, which was retired in perpetuity in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1997.
Halladay, who was killed piloting an aircraft in 2017 at the age of 40, won Cy Young Awards in both leagues, with the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL in 2003 and with the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League in 2010. He also was the runner-up for the award twice. In a career that covered 16 seasons, the righthander led his league in complete games seven times, strikeout-to-walk ratio five times, shutouts four times, innings pitched four times and victories twice.
Among pitchers active since 1998, Halladay’s 67 complete games are the most in the majors, 13 more than runner-up Randy Johnson. Halladay pitched a perfect game May 29, 2010 against the Miami Marlins. Five months later, he pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, one of only two no-hitters in postseason history. The other was Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
Halladay is the sixth player elected by the BBWAA posthumously. The others were Mathewson, who died in 1925 and was honored in the first Hall of Fame class of 1936; outfielder Willie Keeler, who died in 1923 and was elected in 1939; pitcher Herb Pennock, who died in 1948 and was elected later that year; outfielder Harry Heilman, who died in 1951 and was elected in 1952, and shortstop Rabbit Maranville, who died in 1954 and was elected later that year. The list does not include first baseman Lou Gehrig (class of 1939) and right fielder Roberto Clemente (class of 1973), whose inductions were the result of separate elections conducted by the BBWAA.
Martinez, for whom the Designated Hitter Award has been named since 2004, won batting titles in 1992 and 1995 with the Seattle Mariners, his only club over 18 seasons. He compiled a career .312 batting average with 2,247 hits, including 309 home runs. Martinez, 56, who was elected in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot, is one of only nine players in history with 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300, a career on-base percentage higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage higher than .500. He ranks as the Mariners’ all-time leader in runs (1,219), runs batted in (1,261), doubles (514), walks (1,283), extra-base hits (838) and total bases (3,718).
Mussina, 50, had a .638 winning percentage based on a 270-153 record with a 3.68 earned run average and 2,813 strikeouts over 18 seasons combined with the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees. The righthander was 39 years of age in 2008 when he became the oldest pitcher to record a 20-victory season (20-9) for the first time. “Moose,” who was elected in his sixth year on the BBWAA ballot, won 15 or more games 11 times and took some seven Gold Glove Awards for fielding.
With the election of Rivera and Halladay, there are 56 players in the Hall of Fame who have been elected in their first year of eligibility. Rivera and Martinez bring to 54 the total of Hall of Famers who played with only one club, a list that also includes Gehrig and Clemente.
The BBWAA has elected 20 players to the Hall over the past six years, the largest total over a six-year span, breaking the previous mark of 15 from 1951-56. The Hall of Fame now has 329 elected members, including 232 players, of which 132 have come through the BBWAA ballot. The average ballot in the 2018 election contained 8.01 names, down from 8.46 last year with 42.8 percent of the voters using all 10 slots, down from 50 percent last year. The 425 ballots cast marked a record 99.3-percent return rate of the 428 ballots mailed to voters.
|Player||Votes (Percentage)||Years on ballot|
|Mariano Rivera||425 (100%)||1|
|Roy Halladay||363 (85.4%)||1|
|Edgar Martinez||363 (85.4%)||10|
|Mike Mussina||326 (76.7%)||6|
|Curt Schilling||259 (60.9%)||7|
|Roger Clemens||253 (59.5%)||7|
|Barry Bonds||251 (59.1%)||7|
|Larry Walker||232 (54.6%)||9|
|Omar Vizquel||182 (42.8%)||2|
|Fred McGriff||169 (39.8%)||10|
|Manny Ramirez||97 (22.8%)||3|
|Jeff Kent||77 (18.1%)||6|
|Scott Rolen||73 (17.2%)||2|
|Billy Wagner||71 (16.7%)||4|
|Todd Helton||70 (16.5%)||1|
|Gary Sheffield||58 (13.6%)||5|
|Andy Pettitte||42 (9.9%)||1|
|Sammy Sosa||36 (8.5%)||7|
|Andruw Jones||32 (7.5%)||2|
|Michael Young||9 (2.1%)||1|
|Lance Berkman||5 (1.2%)||1|
|Miguel Tejada||5 (1.2%)||1|
|Roy Oswalt||4 (0.9%)||1|
|Placido Polanco||2 (0.5%)||1|