Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are headed to Cooperstown.
But the wait continues for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, controversial superstars who again failed to receive the votes needed for enshrinement into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Rodriguez was elected in his first year on the ballot on Wednesday, receiving 335 of the 442 votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, barely eclipsing the 75-percent threshold required for induction. Raines made it in on his 10th and final year on the ballot, receiving 86 percent of the vote. Jeff Bagwell was also named on 86 percent of ballots.
For Bonds and Clemens, though, the doors to Cooperstown remained locked. Bonds is the majors’ all-time home run king with 762 blasts, and Clemens ranks ninth all-time with 354 pitching wins. On numbers alone, both should be Hall shoo-ins. But even though support for the two players is growing, they’re still beomg shunned by some voters who feel neither satisfies the “character” clause because of their links with steroids.
Bonds was named on 53.8 percent of the ballots, up from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens was named on 54.1 percent of ballots, an improvement over last year’s figure of 45.2 percent.
Rodriguez was an easy call for voters. Regarded as one of the best catchers in major-league history, Rodriguez cruised into Cooperstown in his first year on the ballot.
An offensive and defensive force, he was a .296 hitter over 21 seasons, during which he hit 311 home runs and won 13 Gold Gloves. Rodriguez will become the fourth Puerto Rican-born player to enter Cooperstown, joining Roberto Clemente, Roberto Alomar and Orlando Cepeda. He won a World Series ring in 2003 during his only season with the Marlins.
“He was one of the key ingredients of that ball club,” said Jack McKeon, the 2003 Marlins manager. “He was a tremendous leader and very unselfish. Very tough.”
As a Marlin, Rodriguez is perhaps best remembered for his series-clinching tag on the Giants’ J.T. Snow in a jarring home-plate collision to end the 2003 National League Division Series.
“To me, that is one of the best plays I made in my career. At the top,” Rodriguez said Wednesday in a conference call. “And, to be honest, it still hurts a little bit.”
Rodriguez has fond memories of the Marlins even though he spent just one season with the team.
“The year we had overall in 2003, we started from the beginning in the clubhouse in spring training and we had good chemistry all the way to Game 6 in New York [when the Marlins won the World Series over the Yankees],” Rodriguez said. “It was a team effort.”
Rodriguez isn’t the only new member with Marlins ties. Raines spent the last of his 23 big-league seasons with the Marlins in 2002.
One of the most prolific leadoff hitters of his generation, Raines is best known for his years with the Montreal Expos. He hit .294 for his career and finished with 808 stolen bases to rank fifth on the all-time list.
Bagwell spent his entire 15-year career with the Houston Astros, hitting .294 with 449 home runs.
Of those players who failed to win election, reliever Trevor Hoffman and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero came closest to getting in. Hoffman, who began his career with the Marlins, was named on 74 percent of the ballots while Guerrero checked in at 71.7 percent. Hoffman was on the ballot for the second time, Guerrero for the first time.
Induction ceremonies will be held July 30 in Cooperstown, New York.
Miami Herald’s Hall of Fame ballots