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On July 21, Mariano Rivera will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, along with five other players. Rivera’s selection made history: The great New York Yankees reliever is the first player to be unanimously voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, receiving a perfect 425 votes. Here, a few voters tell Hemispheres why they supported Rivera, and we also look at why a few great players fell short of 100 percent when they were up for induction.
KEN GRIFFEY JR.: 99.32 %
In 2016, the beloved former Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds outfielder and slugger of 630 home runs fell three votes short of unanimous induction, but none of those three voters ever came forward, despite widespread interest in identifying them.
TOM SEAVER: 98.84 %
The three-time Cy Young Award winner missed 100 percent by five votes in 1992. Three voters submitted blank ballots in protest of Pete Rose’s name not appearing, another filled out his ballot while recovering from open-heart surgery and overlooked the pitcher, and one didn’t believe in voting for any player on the first ballot.
NOLAN RYAN: 98.79 %
Major League Baseball’s all-time strikeout leader was left off six ballots in 1999, including by one writer who wanted to make a point about Ryan’s unspectacular .526 winning percentage.
CAL RIPKEN JR.: 98.53 %
Ripken seemed a likely candidate to hit the 100 percent mark in 2007, thanks to the transcendent achievement of breaking Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played, but the Baltimore Orioles infielder was left off eight ballots, including one by a writer who submitted a blank ballot to protest the steroid era.
TY COBB: 98.23 %
Controversy over voting dates back to the very first Hall election in 1936, when Cobb was left off four ballots and Babe Ruth was left off 11. “It remains a mystery that any observer of modern diamond activities could list his version of the ten outstanding baseball figures and have Ty Cobb nowhere at all in the group,” wrote a New York Times columnist at the time.