Texas Rangers

Not even Babe Ruth did what Mariano Rivera did Tuesday on way to Hall of Fame

Mariano Rivera joined Roy Halladay on Tuesday as first-ballot Hall of Famers, but Rivera became the first player in MLB history to appear on every voter’s ballot.
Mariano Rivera joined Roy Halladay on Tuesday as first-ballot Hall of Famers, but Rivera became the first player in MLB history to appear on every voter’s ballot. Star-Telegram

Four former baseball greats, none of them named Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or tied to performance-enhancing drugs, were elected Tuesday for enshrinement to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

And one of them, for the first time in baseball history, appeared on every ballot.

Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay were elected in their first year on the ballot, Mike Mussina made it in his sixth year, and Edgar Martinez was selected in his 10th and final time on the ballot and becomes the first primary designated hitter voted to the Hall.

But Rivera, the greatest closer in MLB history, became the first player elected on every ballot – the 425 eligible voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America who cast a vote all voted from Rivera.

A unanimous selection was long overdue, and it could open the door for others down the road.

No other player – not Babe Ruth or Willie Mays or Ted Williams or Nolan Ryan or Greg Maddux, just to name five of the 229 others elected – got a perfect 100 percent of the vote.

“Amazing,” Rivera said. “Thank God for that.”

Rivera recorded 652 saves, the MLB career record, and 32 more in the postseason in helping the New York Yankees win five World Series during his 19-year career. More people have walked on the moon (12) than earned runs allowed in the playoffs (11) by Rivera.

And he did it with one pitch, a filthy cut fastball.

“A lot of people advised me to throw a changeup, and I threw one changeup in my whole career,” Rivera said. “I always said, ‘If it’s not broken, why do you want to change something?’I was comfortable with the pitch. I knew exactly where I wanted to throw it, and I knew exactly what the pitch was doing, so I stuck with it.”

The next unanimous Hall of Famer? It could be Rivera’s Yankees teammate, shortstop Derek Jeter.

Another addition with a lasting impact could be Martinez, who was a DH almost his entire 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners. His election could make it easier for David Ortiz, another famed DH, to make his way to Cooperstown.

Halladay joins the Hall posthumously after dying Nov. 7 , 2017, in a crash of a plane he was flying. He won a Cy Young Award in each league, tossed a perfect game, and threw the second no-hitter in postseason history.

Mussina barely hit the 75-percent threshold, landing on 76.7 percent of the ballots cast. The right-hander amassed 270 wins, a 3.68 ERA, 11 15-win seasons and seven Gold Gloves.

Texas Rangers Hall of Famer Michael Young received only nine votes (2.1 percent) in his first year on the ballot and will not return to the next ballot as he failed to receive 5 percent. Curt Schilling was fifth in voting at 60.9 percent, and accused steroid users Clemens (59.5) and Bonds (59.1) were next.

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After 12 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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