Former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice was again denied election to the Baseball Hall of Fame today, falling about 10 percent shy of the necessary percentage of votes needed for election.
This was thought to be Rice’s best chance for election to the Hall, with such a weak class of potential inductees. Pitcher Bruce Sutter was the only player to be elected this year, with 76.9 percent of the vote, just more than the 75 percent needed.
Rice received 64.8 percent of the vote, the highest total he’s ever received. Last year, he got just over 59 percent. Players needed 390 votes to gain election. Jim Rice fell 53 votes short, finishing second with 337 votes, one ahead of Goose Gossage.
Rice's percentage may bode well for the slugger, if history is any indication. The highest percentage of votes gained by a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.
Sutter became just the fourth relief pitcher given baseball's highest honor. Also denied was Andre Dawson, who spent two seasons with the Red Sox. Dawson received 61 percent of the votes.
Sutter was on the ballot for the 13th time, the first player elected in his 13th try or later since Ralph Kiner in 1975. Rice was appearing for the 12th time and has three years remaining on the writers' ballot. Gossage was on the ballot for the seventh time.
"It was the call you always hope for, but you never really expect it to happen," Sutter said, adding that he cried when he received the notification.
Sutter said fellow relievers Gossage and Lee Smith also should be in the Hall.
"I just think sometimes the voters try to compare us with the starting pitchers," he said. "Without us, it's tough to win."
It might be difficult for Rice and Gossage to gain votes next year, when Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire appear on the ballot for the first time. Each voter may select up to 10 players.
The other players in the Hall who primarily were relievers are Hoyt Wilhelm (elected in 1985), Rollie Fingers (1992) and Dennis Eckersley (2004).
Orel Hershiser (58 votes) and Albert Belle (40) were the only players among the 14 first-time candidates to receive 5 percent, meaning he will remain on the ballot next year. Among those dropped were Will Clark (23 votes), Dwight Gooden (17), Willie McGee (12) and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen (5).
Sutter will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies on July 30 in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Veterans Committee doesn't vote this year, but a special Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues selection committee meets Feb. 27 in Tampa, Fla.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.