Former Red Sox slugger Rice falls short of Hall election

Updated: January 8, 2008, 7:39 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- No. 14 is 0-for-14.

Now, Jim Rice has one chance left to be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Rice fell short by just 16 votes Tuesday in his 14th year on the ballot -- and perhaps his best opportunity for election by the writers. He received 392 votes (72.2 percent), up from 346 (63.5 percent) last year but 16 shy of the 75 percent needed.

On The Doorstep

Jim Rice's career numbers compare favorably with some players who are already in the Hall of Fame, but they are also similar to some others who haven't made it.

Jim Rice16.2983821451
Orlando Cepeda*17.2973791365
Andres Galarraga19.2883991425
Ellis Burks18.2913521206
Duke Snider*18.2954071333
Joe Carter16.2593961445
Dave Parker19.2903391493
Billy Williams*18.2904261475
Moises Alou16.3033321278
Willie Stargell*21.2824751540
* -- Hall of Famers

The former Boston Red Sox slugger will appear on the writers' ballot for the final time next year, when career steals leader Rickey Henderson will be among the newcomers.

Relief pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage was the only player elected.

"Today's results are obviously a disappointment," Rice said in a statement issued by the Red Sox. "I believe my accomplishments speak for themselves, and a majority of the voters seem to agree.

"It is tough to come this close, but I remain hopeful for the 2009 results. I appreciate all the kind words from so many players, including Rich Gossage, and I congratulate Goose on his well-deserved election today."

Gossage was elected on his ninth try. He fell short by 21 votes last year.

"I think Jim Rice does belong in the Hall of Fame," Gossage said. "No hitter scared me, but Jim Rice came the closest."

Rice wore No. 14 throughout his 16 major league seasons, all with the Red Sox. He batted .298 with 382 home runs and 1,451 RBIs from 1974-89 and will get one more chance before his fate is put in the hands of the Veterans Committee. Players can remain for 15 years on the ballot distributed to 10-year members of the BBWAA.

Rice's chances seemed to improve this year because of the lack of exceptional newcomers to the ballot. A player must be retired five years to be eligible.

"I don't understand how some writers vote for somebody one year and then they don't another year," former Red Sox teammate Rick Miller said in a telephone interview after the results were announced. "I don't care who's eligible. Why does your vote change? It makes no sense to me."

Besides Henderson, among the other notable newcomers on next year's ballot will be pitcher David Cone and first baseman Mark Grace.

An eight-time All-Star, Rice was a dominant hitter from 1975, when he was runner-up to teammate Fred Lynn for AL Rookie of the Year, until 1986, when Boston came within one out of a World Series title.

Rice's best season was 1978 when he hit .315 with 46 homers and 139 RBIs, winning his lone MVP award.

But in his last three seasons he hit a total of only 31 home runs.

"I think it's too hard to get in the Hall of Fame in baseball. If you look at every other sport, it's easier to get in," Miller said. "His numbers, I think, are as good as some guys that are in the Hall of Fame."

The last Red Sox player to be elected was Wade Boggs in 2005. The other eight Red Sox who are in the Hall of Fame are Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Rick Ferrell, Carlton Fisk, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

Rice might still make it. Of the 20 other players who received 70-75 percent of the vote, all eventually were elected -- though some were voted in by the Veterans Committee.

The highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected later was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.

No one has been elected in his final year of BBWAA eligibility since 1975, when Ralph Kiner was chosen. Rice can break that streak.

"He was one of the most dominant players of his time," Miller said. "I think he should be in the Hall of Fame."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press