Bagwell, Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame
By Ronald Blum
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Bags and Rock and Pudge are heading to Cooperstown.
After a vote that could prove to be a turning point how Steroids Era stars are viewed, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens could be joining them in the next few years.
Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short of the necessary 75 percent.
Bonds and Clemens, their careers tainted by allegations of steroids use, were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America but each received a majority of votes for the first time.
“They were just awesome,” Bagwell said. “Their demeanor, the way they went about their business, was just amazing, and I respect them.”
On the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, Bagwell appeared on 381 of 442 ballots for 86.2 percent. Players needed 332 votes this year.
“Anxiety was very, very high,” Bagwell said. “It’s a weird thing to be a Hall of Famer. I wrote it on a ball tonight. It was kind of crazy, so it was cool.”
In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was at 380 (86 percent). He was just the fifth player elected in his final year of eligibility after Red Ruffing (1967), Joe Medwick (1968), Ralph Kiner (1975) and Jim Rice (2009).
“Last night was probably the worst night I’ve had out of the 10 years,” Raines said. “I knew I was close, but I wasn’t sure.”
Raines started at 24.3 percent in 2008 and jumped from 55 percent in 2015 to 69.8 percent last year. He said modern metrics boosted his chances from days when voters considered primarily whether players had 3,000 hits, 500 homers or 300 wins.
“I think social media played a big role,” he said. “There are some things that I did that a lot of the guys that’s already in the Hall of Fame didn’t actually do. So I think it kind of made them look a lot at me a lot closer and they looked a lot deeper, and I think the more they looked, I think the better it turned out for me.”
Rodriguez , at 45 the youngest current Hall member, received 336 votes (76 percent).
“I’ve been having trouble sleeping for three days,” he said.
Rodriguez, the 52nd player elected in his first year of eligibility, joins Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers voted in on their first ballot.
“Johnny Bench was my favorite player growing up,” Pudge added.
Hoffman was five votes short and Guerrero 15 shy.
“Falling short of this class is disappointing,” Hoffman said in a statement. “I am truly humbled to have come so close. I hope to one day soon share a Hall of Fame celebration with my family, friends, teammates and all of San Diego.”
Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.
Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee. Some voters said the election of Selig, who presided over the Steroids Era, transformed their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.
Bagwell was a four-time All-Star for Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs. Among 220 Hall of Fame players, he is the 50th whose entire big league career was with one club.
Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion who compiled a .294 average and .385 on-base percentage. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.
Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball’s 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: “Only God knows.”
Rodriguez displaced Pedro Martinez as the youngest of the record 74 living Hall members.
Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in in 2013 and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.
“Barry Bonds was the best player I played against in my entire life,” Bagwell said.
A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball’s drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and ‘07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.
Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.
Twelve players have been elected by the BBWAA in the past four years, the most over a span of that length since the first four ballots from 1936-39.
Lee Smith, who had 478 saves, got 34 percent in his final time on the ballot. Jorge Posada, Tim Wakefield and Magglio Ordonez were among the players who got under 5 percent and fell off future ballots.
Pete Rose, the career hits leader who has never appeared on a ballot because of a lifetime ban that followed an investigation of his gambling, received one write-in vote.