NEW YORK (AP) — Wade Boggs was overwhelmingly elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility yesterday, 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.
“There’s been some tremendous, tremendous players who waited longer than I had to wait to get into the Hall of Fame,” Sandberg said.
Reliever Bruce Sutter, appearing on the ballot for the 12th time, received 344 votes (66.7 percent), up from 301 last year but 43 shy of what was needed this time.
He was followed by Jim Rice (307), Rich Gossage (285) and Andre Dawson (270).
“I’m not going to say I’m disappointed,” Dawson said.
Willie McGee, also on the ballot for the first time, received 26 votes, exactly at the 5 percent cutoff to avoid being dropped in future years. Darryl Strawberry got six votes in his first bid.
Pete Rose, ineligible for the ballot because of his lifetime ban from baseball, received nine write-in votes, six fewer than last year and his lowest total. Rose, who admitted last year that he bet on the Cincinnati Reds while managing them in the late 1980s, has been written in on 239 of 6,687 ballots (3.6 percent) over 14 years.
He must be reinstated by late November to appear on the ballot in 2006, the final year he would be eligible.
Boggs, known for his array of pre- and post-game 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.
Results of voting by the Veterans Committee will be released March 2. Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva and Ron Santo were among the 25 candidates on that ballot.
Among the players eligible for the first time on next year’s BWAA ballot are Orel Hershiser, Will Clark and Dwight Gooden.