MLB Hall of Fame Voting 2011: Did Voters Make The Right Decision?

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MLB Hall of Fame Voting 2011: Did Voters Make The Right Decision?
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After more than a decade of frustration, Bert Blyleven finally became a member of baseball's Hall of Fame in his second-to-last year of eligibility.

The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is getting three new members.

It was announced Wednesday that Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar each received votes from the required 75 percent of the ballots from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to be elected into the Hall of Fame, joining long-time general manager Pat Gillick, who was elected by the Veterans Committee last month.

For Blyleven, who amassed 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts and a 3.31 ERA over his 23-year career as a major league starter with six different franchises, it was a long time coming.

Unsuccessful in his first 13 years of eligibility, Blyleven missed out by five votes last year, but received votes on 79.7 percent of ballots this time around. He is the first starting pitcher to be elected since Nolan Ryan in 1999.

Blyleven is fifth all-time on baseball’s strikeout list, and his 60 shutouts are ninth.

"It's been 14 years of praying and waiting," Blyleven told news services in a conference call. "I'd like to thank the Baseball Writers of America for, I'd like to say, finally getting it right."

The wait was a bit less excruciating for Alomar, who gets in after being eligible for two years.

Alomar, a 12-time All-Star, received 90 percent of the vote after failing to be elected a year ago, perceivably because of his infamous incident with John Hirschbeck in 1996, when Alomar spat in the face of the former major league umpire.

A .309 career hitter, Alomar totaled 2,724 hits and 474 stolen bases in his 17 seasons, and his 10 Gold Gloves are the most of any second baseman in history. He also won two World Series rings in 1992 and ’93 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"Robbie deserves to be in the Hall of Fame," said Gillick, who won two of his three world titles as Alomar's general manager in Toronto. "He's the best second baseman I have ever seen. Robbie could do it all."

The 73-year-old Gillick served as the general manager of the Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and, most recently, Philadelphia Phillies, where he won the last of his world championships in 2008.

Gillick is the 32nd executive to be elected, but only the fourth credited with being a team architect, according to the Hall of Fame.

The three, who will be inducted on July 24, are all well deserving, and voters absolutely made the right call, if only a decade or so late on sending Blyleven through.

But the writers didn't smile upon everybody.

Of the 27 names involved in the voting, only four were on 50 percent or more of the writers’ ballots, including several famous—or infamous—players.

Rafael Palmeiro, who along with Eddie Murray and Hank Aaron is the only player with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits in a career, received just 11 percent of the votes. He is joined by fellow slugger Mark McGwire, who received 19.8 percent of the votes, the lowest mark of his five times on the ballot.

Palmeiro and McGwire, who are 12th and 10th, respectively, on baseball’s all-time home run list, are presumed to be suffering in Hall balloting because of their link to steroid use.

And the same may be said of former Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but received only 41.7 percent of votes in his first year of eligibility.

"I'm so sick and tired of all the steroids crap, it's messed up my whole thinking on the subject…" Bagwell admitted to ESPN.com. "So much has gone on in the last eight or nine years, it's kind of taken some of the valor off it for me.

“If I ever do get to the Hall of Fame and there are 40 guys sitting behind me thinking, 'He took steroids,' then it's not even worth it to me. I don't know if that sounds stupid. But it's how I feel in a nutshell."

Other big names on the ballot included Barry Larkin, who finished closest to Blyleven with 62 percent of votes, Jack Morris (53.5), Lee Smith (45.3), Tim Raines (37.5), Edgar Martinez (32.9), Alan Trammell (24.3), Larry Walker (20.3) and Fred McGriff (17.9).

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