Jim Rice has finally made it to where many felt he has belonged for a long, long time. For the rest of his life, he will be known as Hall of Famer, Jim Rice. Rice joins Rickey Henderson as the only two 2009 MLB Hall of Fame inductees (Yankees and Indians 2B Joe Gordon was voted in posthumously by the Veteran’s Committee, and long-time announcer Tony Kubek, who won the Ford C. Frick Award will also be inducted).
While Henderson was not a unanimous choice, he was named on 511 of 539 ballots (94.8%). Rice needed to be named on at least 405 ballots. He just squeaked by, being named on 412 ballots (76.2%). 75% of the votes are needed for induction.
Only 12 players in Major League history had higher voting percentages than Henderson, and none were unanimous:
Henderson, a 10-time All-Star and 1990 AL MPV, played 25 years for 10 different ballclubs, including Oakland, both New York teams, Toronto, San Diego, and Boston, amongst others.. He retired in 2003 as the all-time leader in both stolen bases (1406) and runs (2295).
He also had 3055 career hits, and 297 HR. That, along with his propensity to steal a base or two (130 in 1982 is a modern day record) made him one of the most feared leadoff hitters in his generation.
Asked in a conference call about how he felt about the honor, Henderson said, “I feel great about it. It’s been a long time coming,”
Rice was voted in his 15th and final year on the ballot. Last year, he had 72.2% of the vote (missing by 16 votes). He joins only Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1971) as the only three players in history to be inducted in their last year of eligibility.
“The only thing I can say is I’m glad it’s over with,” Rice said. “I’m in there and they can’t take it away.”
Rice played for 16 seasons, all with the Red Sox. From 1976-1985, Rice led the AL in games, at-bats, runs, hits, homers, RBIs, slugging percentage, total bases, extra-base hits, go-ahead RBIs, and multi-hit games. The eight-time All-Star earned the AL MVP award in 1978 when he batted .315 and hit 46 HR with 139 RBI and 213 hits.
Players on the ballot who didn’t make the cut this year but received enough votes for another look next season include:
* Last year of eligibility
Players on the ballot who didn’t receive enough votes for another look next season include:
Next year’s ballot will likely include: Roberto Alomar, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Eric Karros, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff. Looking at this list today, one would like to think that both Dawson and Blyleven have a legitimate shot to get in next season.
While Alomar, Larkin, Martinez (if the voters decide that a DH really does contribute to the game) probably will be granted entry into the Hall, it won’t be in their first year of eligibility. There have only been 44 players inducted in their first year. That is a very exclusive list that should remain that way.
Meanwhile, a very hearty congratulations to this year’s well deserving inductees: Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.
The 2009 Induction Ceremony will be held on July 26th, in Cooperstown, NY.