January 04, 2005

Boggs, Sandberg Elected to Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, New York - Five-time American League batting champion Wade Boggs and nine-time National League Gold Glove award winner Ryne Sandberg received baseball's highest honor on Tuesday, as both were elected into the Hall of Fame.

Boggs, who spent 11 seasons of his illustrious career as a third baseman with the Boston Red Sox, was elected in his first year of eligibility. Sandberg, who was a standout second baseman with the Chicago Cubs for 15 of his 16 seasons, was chosen in his third year of eligibility.

A record 516 ballots, including one blank, were submitted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America this year. Boggs was named on 474 ballots (91.86 percent), which is the 19th highest all-time percentage. His 474 votes are third-most, behind only Nolan Ryan (491) and George Brett (488), both in 1999. Boggs became the 41st player elected in his first year of eligibility.

Candidates had to be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. Sandberg was on 61.1 percent of the 506 ballots submitted by the BBWAA last year, but this time around he was on 76.2 percent.

This year 387 votes were needed to gain election into the Hall of Fame, and Sandberg garnered 393 votes. Sandberg's six-vote margin was tied for the 12th slimmest to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. He was 71 votes shy last year.

Boggs and Sandberg will be the only two players chosen by the BBWAA to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 31 in Cooperstown.

Some players who didn't make the cut for the 2005 class included relief pitcher Bruce Sutter (66.7%), outfielder Jim Rice (59.5%), reliever Rich "Goose" Gossage (55.2%), outfielder Andre Dawson (52.3%) and pitchers Bert Blyleven (40.9%), Lee Smith (38.8%), Jack Morris (33.3%) and Tommy John (23.8%).

Boggs ended his 18-year career (1982-99) with a .328 average, 118 homers and 1,014 RBI. He had 3,010 hits, 23rd most on the all-time list and his batting average is 26th. A 12-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner at third base, Boggs also ranks 14th in doubles. He spent the first 11 years of his career in Boston and then five seasons with the Yankees, capturing a World Series crown in 1996 with New York, before ending with two years at Tampa Bay.

Now 46, Boggs is the only one whose 3,000th hit was a home run, in 1999 for the Devil Rays. He had an American League-record seven consecutive years of 200 or more hits and led the league in intentional walks six straight seasons, another AL record.

The 12th third baseman to gain entry into the Hall of Fame, Boggs currently ranks 19th in on-base percentage and intentional walks.

Boggs hit .349 or higher six times during the first seven years of his career (1982-88). The year he didn't reach that mark was 1984 when he batted .325.

Regarded as one of the most superstitious players in baseball history and maybe the greatest two-strike hitter of all-time, Boggs woke up at the same time each morning and would only eat chicken before each game, thus earning the nickname "Chicken Man" by Rice, his former Red Sox teammate.

The 45-year-old Sandberg, the 17th second baseman selected for the Hall of Fame, finished his career (1981-97) with a .285 average with 282 home runs and 1,061 RBI. He topped the National League with 40 homers in 1990 and his 277 total homers as a second baseman are behind only Jeff Kent all-time.

The NL Most Valuable Player in 1984 and a 10-time All-Star, Sandberg holds the career record for fielding percentage (.989) among second basemen and also has the distinction for consecutive errorless games in a season (90 in 1989) and over two seasons (123) at the position.

Sandberg was chosen by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft and broke into the majors in 1981 with the team before being traded, along with former shortstop Larry Bowa, to the Cubs in exchange for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. Sandberg's first season with the Cubs was spent mostly at third base, but then he went on to dominate second in record fashion.

Other players listed on the ballot who received votes were Steve Garvey (20.5%), Alan Trammell (16.9%), Dave Parker (12.6%), Don Mattingly 59 (11.4%), Dave Concepcion 55 (10.7%), Dale Murphy 54 (10.5%), Willie McGee 26 (5.0%), Jim Abbott 13 (2.5%), Darryl Strawberry 6 (1.2%), Jack McDowell 4 (0.8%), Chili Davis 3 (0.6%), Tom Candiotti 2 (0.4%), Jeff Montgomery 2 (0.4%), Tony Phillips 1 (0.2%) and Terry Steinbach 1 (0.2%). Mark Langston and Otis Nixon were both on the ballot for the first time, but didn't receive a vote.

For a first-time candidate to remain on the ballot, he must attain at least five percent of the votes. McGee, the NL MVP in 1985, was the only player to reach that level.

Sutter, who was on the ballot for a 12th year and was 43 votes short of being elected, won the 1979 NL Cy Young Award and ended his career with 300 saves.

A total of 260 members are now in the Hall of Fame, including 195 players.

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