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Former Red Sox slugger Rice falls short of Hall election

1/8/2008 - Boston Red Sox

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.

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."