Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankee closing pitcher who posted a record 652 saves over his 19-year career, is the first player to be unanimously selected for Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Two other pitchers, the late Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina, and slugger Edgar Martinez were also elected.
Rivera received all 425 votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The stars all received 75 percent of the ballots cast. Players must be retired for five years to be eligible for the honor.
In 2014, Rivera told NPR that, as he grew up in poverty in Panama, he had far different expectations from life.
“I wanted to be a mechanic. So I would have saved all the money that I make to open my own shop,” he said.
As baseball fans earlier in the day awaited the news of which past stars would make the cut and have his name officially ranked with the game’s immortals, ESPN reminded readers that there had never been a unanimous selection to the Hall.
“Among those who obsess about Hall of Fame balloting, there is a small subset who obsess over this twist of history: No Hall of Famer has received 100 percent of the vote. Somehow, 23 people didn’t vote for Willie Mays. Nine people didn’t vote for Hank Aaron. Imagine having a Hall of Fame ballot and not voting for Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. Twenty didn’t vote for Ted Williams, but, hey, a lot of writers despised the man. In the first election in 1936, 11 writers didn’t vote for Babe Ruth. The rules might not have been entirely clear: Ruth had just retired the previous year. Still, Ruth received just 215 votes out of 226 ballots.”
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two stars tainted by the widespread reaction against performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, both fell short of the 75 percent vote threshold. Bonds received 59.1 percent and Clemens 59.5 percent Both were in the seventh year of eligibility.
Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer.