Sutter elected to baseball Hall of Fame

Updated: January 11, 2006, 3:01 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Bruce Sutter was elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, just the fourth relief pitcher given baseball's highest honor.

Hall of Fame voting
520 votes cast; 390 needed for election:
Name Votes Percentage
Bruce Sutter 400 76.9
Jim Rice 337 64.8
Rich Gossage 336 64.6
Andre Dawson 317 61.0
Bert Blyleven 277 53.3
Lee Smith 234 45.0
Jack Morris 214 41.2
Tommy John 154 29.6
Steve Garvey 135 26.0
Alan Trammell 92 17.7
Dave Parker 76 14.4
Dave Concepcion 65 12.5
Don Mattingly 64 12.3
Orel Hershiser 58 11.2
Dale Murphy 56 10.8
Albert Belle 40 7.7
x-Will Clark 23 4.4
x-Dwight Gooden 17 3.3
x-Willie McGee 12 2.3
x-Hal Morris 5 1.0
x-Ozzie Guillen 5 1.0
x-Gary Gaetti 4 0.8
x-John Wetteland 4 0.8
x-Rick Aguilera 3 0.6
x-Doug Jones 2 0.4
x-Greg Jefferies 2 0.4
x-Walt Weiss 1 0.2
x-Gary DiSarcina 0 0.0
x-Alex Fernandez 0 0.0
x-By receiving fewer than 26 votes (less than five percent), these players are no longer eligible for election by the BBWAA.

Sutter, the first pitcher elected to the Hall with no career starts, was listed on 76.9 percent of the ballots cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The split-finger pioneer collected 400 of a record 520 ballots.

"It was a call that you always hope for, but you never really expect it to happen," Sutter said, adding that he cried when he received the notification. "I didn't think it would affect me or hit me as hard as it did."

Players needed 390 votes (75 percent) to gain election. Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice fell 53 short, finishing second with 337 votes (64.8 percent), one ahead of reliever Goose Gossage.

Sutter was on the ballot for the 13th time, the first player elected so late since Ralph Kiner in 1975. Rice was appearing for the 12th time and has three years remaining on the writers' ballot. Gossage was on the ballot for the seventh time.

It might be difficult for Rice and Gossage to gain votes next year, when Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire appear on the ballot for the first time. Each voter may select up to 10 players.

The other players in the Hall who primarily were relievers are Hoyt Wilhelm (elected in 1985), Rollie Fingers (1992) and Dennis Eckersley (2004).

Andre Dawson was fourth with 317 votes, followed by Bert Blyleven (277), Lee Smith (234), Jack Morris (214), Tommy John (154) and Steve Garvey (135).

Pete Rose, baseball's career hits leader who has been banned from the game, received 10 write-in votes in what would have been his final year of eligibility. Stricken from the ballot after going on the banned list for betting on Cincinnati while managing the team, Rose was written in on 249 of 7,207 ballots (3.5 percent) over 15 years.

Career save leaders
Career save leaders since 1969, when saves became an official major league statistic (through the 2005 season):
Pitcher Saves
Lee Smith 478
x-Trevor Hoffman 436
x-John Franco 424
Dennis Eckersley 390
x-Mariano Rivera 379
Jeff Reardon 367
Randy Myers 347
Rollie Fingers 341
John Wetteland 330
x-Troy Percival 324
x-Roberto Hernandez 324
x-Jose Mesa 319
Rick Aguilera 318
Robb Nen 314
Tom Henke 311
Rich Gossage 310
Jeff Montgomery 304
Doug Jones 303
Bruce Sutter 300
x-Active.

Sutter was a six-time All-Star and the 1979 NL Cy Young Award winner, compiling 300 saves during a 12-season major career with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis and Atlanta. He is 19th on the career saves list. He will enter the hall wearing a Cardinals hat.

He credited Fred Martin, a Cubs' minor league pitching coach, with teaching him the splitter and Mike Roarke, another Cubs' coach, with working on it with him.

"It just tickles me still when you see Roger Clemens, as great as he is, throw a split-finger and the hitter just swings and misses. They don't see that ball that well," Sutter said. "Jack Morris threw an awful good one and Mike Scott. There's a lot of great pitchers over the years that I think that pitch definitely helped their career."

Sutter said fellow relievers Gossage and Smith also should be in the Hall.

"I just think sometimes that the voters try to compare us with the starting pitchers," he said. "We can't compete with their statistics, their innings or their strikeouts. I think if you compare us against each other, I think you'll see we're all pretty equal. ... Without us, it's tough to win."

When he first appeared on the ballot in 1994, Sutter received 109 votes (23.9 percent). His percentage rose to 66.7 last year, when Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were elected and Sutter fell 43 votes short.

"Were my stats good enough? I didn't know," Sutter said. "You just kind of keep hoping."

Rice's percentage increased to 64.8 from 59.5 last year, and Gossage's rose to 64.6 from 55.2, which bodes well for the pair. The highest percentage of votes gained by a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time of the ballot.

Orel Hershiser (58 votes) and Albert Belle (40) were the only players among the 14 first-time candidates to receive 5 percent, meaning he will remain on the ballot next year. Among those dropped were Will Clark (23 votes), Dwight Gooden (17), Willie McGee (12) and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (5).

Sutter will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies on July 30 in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Veterans Committee doesn't vote this year, but a special Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues selection committee meets Feb. 27 in Tampa, Fla.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press