Hall calls for Biggio

Third time’s the charm.

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday, the first time since 1955 writers selected four players in one year.

Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz earned induction on their first tries, and Biggio made it on the third attempt after falling two votes shy last year.

Steroids-tainted stars Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa remained far from election.

Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner with 303 victories and 4,875 strikeouts, was selected on 534 of 549 ballots by veteran members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. His 97.3 percentage was the eighth-highest in the history of voting.

Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner, appeared on 500 ballots (91.1 percent). Martinez was 219-100, struck out 3,154, led the major leagues in ERA five times and in 2004 helped the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years.

Smoltz was picked on 455 ballots (82.9 percent) and will join former Atlanta teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were inducted last summer along with Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas. Smoltz, the 1996 NL Cy Young winner, was 213-155 with 154 saves, the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves. He went 15-4 in the postseason.

Biggio appeared on 454 ballots, 42 more than the 75 percent needed and up from 68.2 percent in his first appearance and 74.8 percent last year. He had 3,060 hits in 20 big league seasons, all with the Houston Astros.

The quartet will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 26. The BBWAA had not voted in four players in a single year since selecting Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons and Dazzy Vance 60 years earlier.

I’m guessing you could win yourself a few beers at your favorite sports bar with the trivia question “Who was inducted to the Hall of Fame the same year as Joe DiMaggio?” (In case you’re wondering, Gabby Hartnett was a catcher in the 20s and 30s for the Cubs, Ted Lyons pitched for 20 years with the White Sox – check out the season he had in 1942, when he was 41, it’s the sort of stat line you’d never see anyone have today – and Dazzy Vance was Sandy Koufax 40 years before Sandy Koufax was Sandy Koufax.)

I have to say, other than my usual spittle-flecked rant about steroid hysteria, I have few complaints about this year’s voting results, which if you’ve followed this blog for awhile is saying something. The three top non-qualifiers – Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines – all improved their standing over last year, and ought to be in decent shape for 2016. I’d have voted for those guys and a few others over Smoltz, but he’s deserving and would only have been left off my ballot this year because I’d have been limited to ten selections. Biggio, Johnson, and Pedro were all no-brainers. In addition to his prowess at the game, Craig Biggio was also the inspiration for the greatest sports-related blog of all time. He was Hall-worthy just for that, to be honest. I don’t expect to say this again any time soon, but well done, writers. Now get over your steroid idiocy and get to work electing everyone else that belongs. The official HOF announcement is here, the MLB.com story is here, and Hair Balls, Pinstripe Alley, Charlie Pierce, and Ultimate Astros have more.

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5 Responses to Hall calls for Biggio

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    Was great to hear that he was finally voted-in, a great player and a real gent. Such a rarity that he played for Houston his entire career, and we’ll probably never see anybody else ‘take two-hundred and eighty-five for the team.’

  2. Brad M. says:

    How did Craig do in the voting for Jerk Hall of Fame?

    I can remember back in 1995 when he was vocally protesting to the Astro’s owner and general manager demanding that they kick off former strike replacement player Craig McMurtry from the team. This despite the known fact that McMurtry was working for income to pay for his very ill daughter’s medical treatments. The Astros players at the time also made McMurtry, who was a relief player, stand in the bullpen because they wouldn’t allow any room on the bench. Astros, with Biggio at the front of the line, exhibiting totally classless actions. What a bunch of jerks they were.

    I have never seen any reflections/comments by Biggio over the years that showed any remorse or reconsiderations on his actions. If there are and I am unaware then I would consider those comments. People are more important than hitting a little white ball with a stick.

    Great player, but a Hall of Fame jackass.

  3. Joel says:

    to your obligatory pro-steroid comments i must add my obligatory objection. i agree with most everything you say, kuff, but you continue to be flat wrong on steroids.

    cheating is cheating and it should not rewarded, in sports or anywhere else. venerating success even when it involves rule-breaking is a huge problem in american society, on the field and off (just look at our politics and our businesses). steroids and the way we talk about them are exhibit A (OK, maybe exhibit C).

    add to that the impact on people’s bodies, and the influence of major league athletes on youth sports (and the illegality, while we’re at it).

    you must not have children, is the only thing i can figure. if you did, you would never even dream of countenancing steroid abuse.

  4. Joel,

    I have two daughters, and I do not countenance steroid abuse. Since you did not bother to read my specific complaints regarding the way the Hall of Fame voters conduct themselves, let me summarize for you briefly:

    1. The steroids that many players are accused of using or have admitted to using were neither illegal nor against the rules of MLB at the time. Why are people being retroactively punished for doing something that was legal at the time?

    2. The writers’s outrage about a practice of which they were all aware at the time is very selective. As Jim Bouton eloquently documented decades ago, all kinds of drug use was popular in the 60s. Willie Mays, for one, has long been associated with amphetamine use (see http://articles.latimes.com/1985-09-13/sports/sp-22701_1_willie-mays, for example). Gaylord Perry’s entire career is based on throwing an illegal pitch, for which he has long been treated as a lovable rogue. Whitey Ford admitted to regularly throwing illegal pitches in books he authored. None of this seems to bother anyone.

    3. There’s no standard of evidence and no consistency. Mike Piazza has never admitted using steroids nor been named in any report. Neither has Jeff Bagwell. Yet both are victims of whispering campaigns, in the latter case stemming from one writer’s unsourced and unfounded allegations. Bagwell and even Craig Biggio were somehow tainted by association with Ken Caminiti and Roger Clemens, yet I doubt anyone will hold the fact that Derek Jeter played with Alex Rodriguez and Jose Canseco against him.

    There’s more, but you get the idea. Steroid hysteria is a moral crusade that is far out of control. I refuse to play that game.

  5. Joel says:

    huh. i did read your whole post, but thanks for clarifying.

    not sure why you even need to bring up steroids, since it seems (now) that your real problem is with the selection process more broadly.

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