Sometimes not even really great players get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Did any player fail to get elected on his final try towards enshrinement?
Wednesday, Jan. 18 was the day of the 2017 election for the newest class heading into Cooperstown. The Baseball Hall of Fame has been an exclusive brotherhood since its creation in 1936.
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Even some of the best players from their era will ultimately fail to reach Cooperstown during their initial run on the ballot. A player is first eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame six years after he played his last major league game. He can remain on the ballot for up to 10 years as long as he maintains five percent on a ballot annually.
This year saw three players get elected: first baseman Jeff Bagwell, outfielder Tim Raines, and catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. Did anybody run out of time to get elected?
The only two players that were in the final year of hall of fame eligibility were Raines and relief pitcher Lee Smith. This was was Raines’ 10th and final season on the ballot. Smith was on the ballot for the 15th time, as he was grandfathered in to have 15 years of eligibility at the time of his retirement.
Raines gained enshrinement by garnering 86.0 percent of the vote. He needed to be on 75 percent of all ballots cast to get in. His case to Hall of Fame candidacy had been elevated in recent years due to his appreciation by sabermetricians and being considered the Rickey Henderson of the National League in his era. Raines will likely go into Cooperstown wearing a Montreal Expos cap.
Smith received only 34.2 percent of the vote, despite being the all-time leader in saves at the time of his retirement. Relief pitchers have gotten more love of late, but Smith will have to wait for the Veterans Committee to vote him in, as he falls off the ballot for 2018.