On January 22, 2019, Mariano Rivera, the relief pitcher who spent his entire career with the New York Yankees, became the first baseball player to be a unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. Also selected for Cooperstown this year was Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, and Roy Halladay.
The Baseball Writers’ Association announced that Rivera received 100 percent of the 425 votes which were sent in by ballots. Before Rivera, Ken Griffey Jr. held the spot for top percentage of votes 437 out of 440 ballots or 99.32 percent two years ago.
Rivera had 652 career saves and is considered the best reliever in baseball. He was with the New York Yankees for 19 seasons, which was his entire career, and won five World Series rings. Over 16 postseasons, Rivera had 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA, including 11 saves in World Series games. He also has 13 All-Star games, MVP Awards from World Series, ALCS, and All-Star Games. Rivera also received five Rolaids Relief Awards. This was Rivera’s first year nominated.
On Nov. 7, 2017, 40-year-old Halladay died when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida’s coast. He will be the first posthumous inductee since 2012 when Ron Santo was inducted and when Decon White was inducted in 2013.
Halladay was an ace with the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays. During his 16-year career in baseball, he was in eight All-Star Games and won two Cy Young Awards. He won 203 games and will always be remembered for the 250 innings he pitched in 2010. This was Halladay’s first year nominated, and he received 85.4 percent of the votes.
Martinez, who primarily was a designated hitter, and, like Rivera, spent his entire 18 seasons with one team, the Seattle Mariners. He was the only position player to be inducted this year. This was Martinez’ 10th try and was his last chance to be accepted. Martinez was five-time Silver Slugger and seven-time All-Star. He hit .312 with 309 home runs. He joins Harold Baines and Frank Thomas as players who spent the majority of their pro career as a DH. David Ortiz will be eligible to be nominated in 2022. Martinez received 85.4 percent of the votes.
Mussina will be joining his New York Yankee teammate Rivera. This was his sixth try to be inducted. Even though he did not win a Cy Young Award, he received seven Gold Gloves and was in five All-Star Games in an 18-year career in baseball. He was a 270 game winner and pitched more than 3,500 innings. With the Yankees and Orioles, his record was 270-153 with 2.813 strikeouts. He received 76.7 percent of the votes.
Curt Shilling received 60.9 percent of the votes; Roger Clemens, 59.5 percent of the votes; and Barry Bonds, 59.1 percent of the votes, did not make the Hall of Fame again this year.
Larry Walker, 54.6 percent of the votes, will have one more chance next year to be inducted.
Fred McGriff, 39.8 percent of the votes, did not make the Hall of Fame, as this was his final year to be nominated.
Rivera grew up the child of a fisherman in Panama. He signed with the New York Yankees in 1990 and made his debut when he was 25 years old in 1995.
The Yankees did not wait for him to end his career to retire his No. 42 jersey number. Rivera will be the last person in professional baseball to wear that number. The number was retired in 1997 and belonged to Jackie Robinson, and Rivera had it grandfathered in for him.
Written by Barbara Sobel
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Tribune: Yankees’ Mariano Rivera headlines Hall of Fame class; 3 others also voted in
CBS Sports: Baseball Hall of Fame 2019 results: Mariano Rivera unanimous choice; Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez elected
Michigan Live: Mariano Rivera worthy, but unanimous HOF inductee long overdue
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Keith Allison’s Flikr Page – Creative Commons License