In news that should surprise no one, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwinn are going to the Baseball Hall of Fame. As inductees, not tourists. There's a distinct difference. They always seemed like no-brainer choices to go into the Hall on their first year of eligibility (you need to be retired for 5 years to make it on to the ballot, and you're eligible for 15 years after that), and apparently the various and sundry baseball writers across the country agreed in a big way. Ripken got 98.53% of the vote, making him the third highest vote getter ever (behind Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan respectively). Gwynn clocked in with 97.6%, making him number 7 on the list (in order to get elected, a player needs to be listed on the ballots of at least 75% of the voters).
On the other hand, Mark "I Won't Tell Congress I Didn't Do Steroids Because I Don't Feel Like Perjuring Myself" McGwire, another ballot first timer, chalked up 23.5%. Ouch.
Anyway, though I'm happy for Ripken and Gwynn - both of whom clearly deserve the honor - I'm a little disappointed at the list of those who didn't get in. Red Sox great Jim Rice, for instance. This is his 13th year on the ballot, and still no dice. Goose Gossage was up for his 8th try and didn't make it, but I've already several articles talking about how he's inching ever closer. No Andre Dawson, no Don Mattingly, no Dale Murphy, no Tommy John, and no Steve Garvey, which is especially rough since this was his 15th and final year. The whole "fathering illegitimate children" thing isn't such a big deal for famous athletes now, but in the 80s, it was a real career killer.
So good news for Ripken and Gwynn fans - and there are certainly a lot of them - but mark my words, all of New England will be celebrating next year when Jim Ed Rice finally gets his due on his 14th year of eligibility, which will be fitting, since as this article reminds us, he wore #14 for his entire career.