Rickey Henderson almost certainly will get a ticket to Cooperstown. The question is if baseball's career leader in runs and stolen bases will have any company.
Henderson is a near lock to be elected to the Hall of Fame when
voting results from the 10-year members of the Baseball Writers'
Association of America are announced Monday.
While Henderson was one of 10 newcomers on the ballot, this is
the 15th and final chance for Jim Rice and Tommy John before their
cases are passed on to the Veterans Committee.
Last year, Rice was named on 72.2 percent of the ballots with
392 votes, up from 63.5 percent (346) in 2007. The slugger was 16
votes shy of the 75 percent needed.
Of the 20 other players who received 70-75 percent of the vote,
all eventually were elected, some by the Veterans Committee. The
highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year
was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.
"There always can be that one that may not get in," Rice said
recently. "When you talk about 72 percent, I don't look at that
until it actually happens."
Rice, with 15 seasons of at least 50 games, hit .298 with a .502
slugging percentage, 382 homers and 1,451 RBIs for his career.
John, who won 288 games over 26 seasons, received 29.1 percent
of the vote last year when reliever Goose Gossage was the only
player elected by the BBWAA.
A 10-time All-Star who played from 1979-2003, Henderson holds
the career records for steals (1,406) and runs (2,295), and his
2,190 walks are second to Barry Bonds' 2,558. Henderson also is
first in caught stealing with 335.
Henderson played for nine teams, winning the 1990 AL MVP award
Just 23 players were on the ballot, the smallest group ever. The
other holdovers were Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson,
Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker,
Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.
The other newcomers were Jay Bell, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark
Grace, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn and Matt
Inductions are scheduled for July 26 at Cooperstown, N.Y.
Joe Gordon was elected last month by a 12-member Veterans
Committee composed of Hall members and historians that studied
pre-1943 players. A nine-time All-Star, the late second baseman won
five World Series titles with the New York Yankees and Cleveland.