Wade Boggs was overwhelmingly elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility Tuesday, and Ryne Sandberg made it with just six votes to spare on his third try.
Boggs, a five-time American League batting champion for the Boston Red Sox, was selected by 474 of the record 516 voters who are 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The 91.86 percent of ballots he received was the 19th-highest percentage in Hall history, and he became the 41st player elected on his first chance. In total votes, Boggs trailed only Nolan Ryan (491) and George Brett (488). "It's mind-boggling to be put in the same category," said Boggs, who credited his success to his 79-year-old father, Winfield. "He coached me in Little League and sort of nurtured me along -- was there every phone call in the minor leagues," Boggs said.
Sandberg, the 1984 National League MVP for the Chicago Cubs, was picked by 393 voters. He appeared on 76.2 percent of ballots, just above the 75 percent cutoff (387). Sandberg received 49.2 percent of votes in 2003 and got 61.1 percent last year, falling 71 votes short. "Watching Ryno play in the other league was a treat," Boggs said. "He could work Wrigley magic more than anybody knew."
Boggs, known for his array of pre- and postgame rituals, was a 12-time All-Star during an 18-year career, finishing with 3,010 hits. He won batting titles in 1983 and from 1985-88, becoming the first player to win the AL batting championship in four straight years since Rod Carew from 1972-75. Boggs, who hit .300 or higher 15 times, finished with a .328 career average and was the only player in the 20th century with seven straight 200-hit seasons. He also became the first player to get 200 hits and 100 walks in four consecutive seasons. A two-time Gold Glove winner at third base, Boggs played for the Red Sox from 1982-92, then spent five seasons with the New York Yankees, helping the team win the 1996 World Series and riding a police horse around Yankee Stadium after the final victory. His final two seasons were with his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays. On Aug. 7, 1999, Boggs became the 23rd member of the 3,000-hit club, connecting off Cleveland's Chris Haney to become the first player to get No. 3,000 with a home run. After circling the bases, Boggs kissed home plate.
Sandberg was a nine-time Gold Glove second baseman and a 10-time All-Star. He hit 277 homers, the most by a second baseman at the time of his retirement, and led the NL with 40 in 1990. His .989 fielding percentage is the highest at the position. "I think defense had everything to do with me getting into the Hall of Fame," Sandberg said.
Boggs and Sandberg will increase the Hall of Fame's membership to 260, of which 102 were selected by the BBWAA. Induction ceremonies are July 31 in Cooperstown.
Well deserved, in both cases. Sandberg's stats are not particularly impressive by modern standards but he was the highest paid player in the game at one point. That alone speaks volumes.
Others receiving votes are shown in the table above. It's amazing how many guys who were star players during their eras get no real Hall consideration. Dale Murphy was National League MVP two years in a row and yet hasn't even come close to getting elected.
Cooperstown is the most difficult of the major sports halls to gain entrance into.