Here’s a link to a story I did after talking to Edgar Martinez on the phone early this afternoon. Not surprisingly, he reacted with class to the Hall of Fame results.
Don’t worry, folks. I’ll have Baker turned around by next year’s vote. Seriously, he has the right to vote for whomever he pleases. As much as I support Edgar’s candidacy — and I sincerely believe he warrants election — I concede that he’s not a slam-dunk candidate. You might disagree with Geoff’s arguments against, as I do, but I’m not going to rip someone for disagreeing with me on something that’s ultimately as subjective as the Hall of Fame. I’d urge those irate folks I’ve been hearing from today to cut him some slack. There’s no right or wrong answer for the Hall of Fame vote, particularly for the group that’s not in the Willie Mays/Hank Aaron slam-dunk first ballot class.
Anyway, with 36.2 percent of the vote in his first try, Martinez actually is poised in pretty good shape to make the slow, steady climb to the necessary 75 percent. In raw numbers, Edgar would have to gain 210 votes to get from the 195 he got this year to the 405 he needed for election.
That sounds daunting, but it’s doable. Very much so.
Update 2:54 p.m.: In fact, I just picked up a tidbit from ESPN research that supports this point. Since 1968, 23 players have received at least 36.2 percent of the vote in their appearance on the ballot (excluding those who were elected in their first try). That includes three from today’s vote — Edgar at 36.2 percent, Roberto Alomar at 73.7 percent and Barry Larkin at 51.6 percent. Of the previous 20, 18 are in the Hall of Fame. Seventeen were voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America, and Jim Bunning made it via the Veterans Committee. The only two who attained that total in their first try and haven’t made it to Cooperstown are Lee Smith and Steve Garvey.
I went back to the 1970 Hall of Fame election and looked year by year at the first-year candidates who didn’t get voted in their first try, but eventually made it. There’s a lot of Hall of Famers who came back from even farther than Edgar.
Take Duke Snider, for instance. In 1970, his first time on the ballot, he received 51 votes — a mere 17 percent. Ten years later, in 1980, Snider was elected with 86.49 percent of the vote.
Or take Billy Williams. In 1982, he got 97 votes — 23.4 percent — his first go-round. Williams was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987 with 85.7 percent of the vote.
Perceptions change. The electorate changes. Some people have a thing against voting for someone — anyone — on the first ballot. For whatever reason, it’s not at all unusual for vote totals to evolve. Just ask Jim Rice — it took him the entire 15 years that a candidate can stay on the ballot to finally get elected last year. In 1995, when he was on the ballot for the first time, Rice got 137 votes — 29.8 percent. He, too, had farther to go than Martinez, but he got there in the end.
So Edgar Martinez is actually at a good jumping off point. Much better, for instance, than Mark McGwire, who got 23.5 percent his first time, or Harold Baines, who got 5.3 percent, or Don Mattingly, who got 28.2 percent, or Dale Murphy, who got 19.3 percent. The hopes are dim for all those guys. I just hope Martinez doesn’t go the way of Steve Garvey, who got 41.6 percent in 1993, his first time out, and never gained any traction. By 2006, his last year of ballot eligibility, Garvey received just 21.1 percent of the vote.
Here is a list of non-first ballot Hall of Famers since 1970. their vote total the first year, and their eventual election:
1970: Duke Snider, 51 votes (17 percent). Elected 1980, 86.49 percent.
1971: Nellie Fox, 39 votes (10.8 percent). Elected 1997, Veterans Committee.
1973: Robin Roberts, 213 votes (56.1 percent). Elected 1976, 86.86 percent.
1974: Eddie Mathews, 118 votes (32.3 percent). Elected 1978, 79.4 percent.
1975: Don Drysdale, 76 votes (21 percent). Elected 1984, 78.41 percent
1977: Jim Bunning, 146 (38.1 percent). Elected 1996, Veterans Committee.
1978: Hoyt Wilhelm, 158 (41.7 percent). Elected 1985, 83.80 percent.
1978: Bill Mazeroski, 23 votes (6.1 percent). Elected 2001, Veterans Committee.
1980: Orlando Cepeda, 48 votes (12.5 percent). Elected 1999, Veterans Committee
1981: Harmon Killebrew, 239 (59.6 percent). Elected 1984, 83.13 percent.
1981: Juan Marichal, 233 votes (58.1 percent). Elected 1983, 83.69 percent.
1982: Billy Williams, 97 votes (23.4 percent). Elected 1987, 85.71 percent.
1985: Catfish Hunter, 212 votes (53.7 percent). Elected 1987, 76.27 percent.
1989: Gaylord Perry, 304 votes (68 percent). Elected 1991, 77.20 percent.
1989: Ferguson Jenkins, 234 votes (52.3 percent). Elected 1991, 75.40 percent.
1991: Rollie Fingers, 291 votes (65.7 percent). Elected 1992, 81.16 percent.
1992: Tony Perez, 215 votes (50 percent). Elected 2000, 77.15 percent.
1993: Phil Niekro, 278 votes (65.7 percent). Elected 1997, 80.34 percent.
1994: Don Sutton, 259 votes (56.8 percent). Elected 1998, 81.60 percent.
1994: Bruce Sutter, 109 votes (23.9 percent). Elected 2006, 76.90 percent.
1995: Jim Rice, 137 votes (29.8 percent). Elected 2009, 76.44 percent.
1998: Gary Carter, 200 votes (42.3 percent). Elected 2003, 78.02 percent.
1999: Carlton Fisk, 330 votes (66.4 percent). Elected 2000, 79.56 precent.
2000: Goose Gossage, 166 votes (33.3 percent). Elected 2008, 85.82 percent.
2002: Andre Dawson, 214 votes (45.3 percent). Elected 2010, 77.9 percent.
2003: Ryne Sandberg, 244 votes (49.2 percent). Elected 2005, 76.16 percent.