Why Has There Never Been a Unanimous Selection to The Baseball Hall of Fame?

Cody SwartzSenior Writer IJanuary 17, 2009


Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were just inducted into Cooperstown this week. Rice just snuck in, receiving 76.4 percent of the vote, in his last eligible year to be selected. Henderson made it easily, finishing with 94.8 percent, the thirteenth highest total of all-time. Which makes me think...


Why has there never been a unanimous pick for the Baseball Hall of Fame?


No one has ever gotten one hundred percent of the votes. Ever.


Tom Seaver holds the record at 98.84 percent. Cal Ripken, Jr. is third (and first among hitters) with 98.53 percent. The great Babe Ruth made it on 95.13 percent of his ballots.


Meaning 4.87 percent of established baseball voters decided the Sultan of Swat was undeserving of the Hall of Fame. Nearly one out of 20—11 of the 226 voters—thought it was a good idea to leave Ruth off their list.


I think those people should have been removed from the list of approved voters. If someone doesn't think Babe Ruth deserves to enter into Cooperstown, then that person doesn't deserve to be one of the voters.


I think each of those 11 people who left Ruth off their ballot—or even the 28 who omitted Rickey Henderson should have to sit down and explain their reasoning. And issue an apology to Henderson and Ruth's family.


It doesn't appear like anyone will ever receive 100 percent of the votes. I remember the other year, a lot of people thought Cal Ripken, Jr. might be the first. I wrote an article saying that Cal Ripken is overrated, but even I think he's a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. Ripken came close—as close as any hitter has ever come before.


If a guy like Ripken—great offensive and defensive player, won a championship, one of the most beloved athletes who ever lived and owner of one of the most impressive streaks in sports history—can't receive every vote, then no one will. Guys like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb fell short.


Take a guy like Alex Rodriguez. Amazing hitter as a shortstop/third basemen and on track to challenge Aaron's—I mean Bonds'—all-time home run record. He should be a lock to receive one hundred percent of the votes. But he won't. No one will. At least it sure doesn't seem like they will.


Why is that?


Maybe it's because voters don't want to give the idea that anyone is perfect. Maybe it's because if a guy received a perfect score now, it might give the impression that he is the greatest who ever lived. Some voters, I'm sure, do it because of a bias.


A guy from Boston is a lot more likely to leave Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera off his ballots than a guy from New York, or even a neutral place like Los Angeles. He's seem the damage that Jeter and Rivera have done to his team over their careers and he allows his bitterness to leave their names off his ballot.


But seriously, Henderson didn't get a perfect score? Ripken? Mays or Aaron? Come on.


What did Henderson need to do? Steal 2,000 bases in his career? Hit 500 home runs? What about Mays? Arguably the greatest all-around baseball player who ever lived, a guy who just loved playing the game. Why did he not get a hundred percent? Should he have been able to pitch also, like Ruth? Then would he have gotten it?


But hey, Ruth could pitch and hit better than any guy who ever played baseball. And he wasn't good enough.


It's confusing. It's puzzling. And it angers me. There are those players—Mays, Aaron, Ruth, Henderson, Ripken—that need to get 100 percent. They've earned it. And they deserve it.


But I guess it just doesn't work that way.