When Mariano Rivera began closing games for the Yankees in 1997, only two relievers were in the Hall of Fame, none of whom were considered one-inning specialists.
The world has changed in two decades. Relievers are judged along with starters along with hitters – even designated hitters — and not only is it acceptable for a closer to make the Hall of Fame, but one has now been elected unanimously.
Rivera received votes from all 425 eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which announced its results Tuesday. The previous record high was Ken Griffey Jr.’s 99.3 percent. Three voters didn’t check Griffey’s box.
To get elected, 75 percent is required.
Rivera, widely considered the greatest closer of all time – with apologies to Dennis Eckersley, the third reliever inducted behind Hoyt Wilhelm and Rollie Fingers – will be joined in the 2019 Hall of Fame class by Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez and Stanford alum Mike Mussina.
The induction ceremony will be July 21.
Photo: Kathy Willens / Associated Press
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Barry Bonds, on the ballot for the seventh time, received 59.1 percent, only a slight improvement from 56.4 percent in 2018. He and Roger Clemens, who got 59.5 percent, have three more years of eligibility on the writers’ ballot. If they don’t reach 75 percent, they’d be considered by a veterans committee.
Bonds, who won seven MVP awards (five with the Giants), and Clemens, who won seven Cy Young Awards, have had their candidacies hindered by their connection to performance-enhancing drugs.
The 2019 class will go six-deep. Aside from Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina, the inductees will include Lee Smith and Harold Baines, who got elected last month by the Today’s Game Era Committee.
Rivera and Smith will give the Hall of Fame eight relievers. The others are Wilhelm, Fingers, Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage and Trevor Hoffman.
Halladay, who died at 40 in a November 2017 plane crash, will be inducted posthumously, the first to do so through the BBWAA ballot since Rabbit Maranville in 1954. Roberto Clemente, after his death in 1972, became a Hall of Fame through a special election.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/giants/article/Baseball-Hall-of-Fame-Rivera-Halladay-13553296.php.