The last time the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) elected three players to the Hall of Fame was 1999 when Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Robin Yount all made it on the first try. Wednesday afternoon, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were all elected to the Hall of Fame on their first try.
Voting for the Hall of Fame started in 1936 and five players were elected for the initial class. Since then, four players have been elected twice (1947 and 1955) while three players were elected seven times, before this year.
But the historical significance of this year's Hall of Fame vote doesn't end there.
With the election of Thomas, the Hall of Fame has its first true designated hitter (DH). There are players who have played the position, but until now, there has never been a player who was primarily a DH during his career.
Does the election of a DH open things up for players like Edgar Martinez or David Ortiz down the line? We will have to wait and see.
Leading into the voting results, the question about Maddux was how close would he be to a unanimous election and would he break the all-time voting percentage record.
Of every player elected by the BBWAA, only five players have gathered 98 percent of the vote. Tom Seaver set the record for the player with the highest voting percentage in 1992 with 98.84. That broke the record set by Ty Cobb in 1936 when the Georgia Peach received 98.23 percent of the initial vote. Nolan Ryan (98.79) and George Brett (98.19) both received over 98 percent in 1999 while Cal Ripken Jr. tallied the third highest total (98.53) in 2007.
There was an uproar when Ken Gurnick of made his votes known and his ballot did not include Maddux. The public blasted the long time voter for his ballot. But, now that the results are out, it is known that Gurnick was not alone in leaving Maddux off the ballot. In all, 16 voters did not have Maddux on their ballot and because of that, the former Braves' pitcher did not break the voting percentage record set by Seaver in 1992. Maddux's 97.2 total is the eight highest all time.
What I want to know is whether or not the public will continue to ridicule Gurnick or not? Voters are not required to make their ballots public. Gurnick shared his and was interviewed about his decision. He defended his reasoning and also said that this would be his final year voting. Typically, voters hold the right for life once it is obtained.
For most of the time leading in to the results, people believed Craig Biggio would make it this year. The Astros' second baseman missed the 75 percent mark by two votes. Biggio was named on 74.8 percent of the ballots turned in.
Other players to get over half the vote and miss the cut were Mike Piazza (62.2), Jack Morris (61.5), and Jeff Bagwell (54.3). Piazza and Biggio both had their vote totals increase. Morris was in his 15th and final try. He will now be dropped from the BBWAA ballot.
The rest of the HOF voting totals: Tim Raines (46.1), Barry Bonds (34.7), Roger Clemens (35.4), Curt Schilling (29.2), Edgar Martinez (25.2), Mike Mussina (20.3), Jeff Kent (15.2), Fred McGriff (11.7), Mark McGwire (11), Larry Walker (10.2), Don Mattingly (8.2), and Sammy Sosa (7.2). Those are all the players who will return to the ballot next year.
The players who will not return to the ballot because they failed to earn at least 5 percent of the vote include: Rafael Palmeiro (4.4), Moises Alou (1.1), Hideo Nomo (1.1), Luis Gonzalez (0.9), J.T. Snow (0.4), Eric Gagne (0.4), Armando Benitez (0.2), Jacque Jones (0.2), and Kenny Rogers (0.2). Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexson, and Mike Timlin did not receive any votes.
None of the admitted (McGwire) and accused (Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, etc.) steroid users had their vote totals increase.
I can say I am happy to see the voters put three players in this year after voting in zero last year. I can't wait for Hall of Fame induction weekend, July 25-28 in Cooperstown.