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Hall bid falls short for 31 players
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01/07/2003  5:15 PM ET 
Hall bid falls short for 31 players
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Rich Gossage pitches for the Yankees in the ninth inning of a Sept. 30, 1978 game. (Ray Stubblebine/AP)
While Eddie Murray and Gary Carter were elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, it was a day of disappointment for the other 31 players on the ballot, including a trio of relievers who didn't even come close to election by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in the Class of 2003.

Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith and Goose Gossage each needed votes on 372 of the 496 ballots cast. Sutter, with 266 votes for 53.6 percent, was the only one of the three to reach 50 percent. He was in his 10th year on the ballot.

Hall of Fame 2003

Induction Ceremony
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York

The inductees
Gary Carter | Eddie Murray

Schedule of weekend events
Complete coverage

Sutter has five more tries before he disappears from the BBWAA ballot because of the rule that allows a former player 15 years on the ballot if he's named on at least 5 percent each year. Smith, owner of Major League Baseball's career saves record with 478, received only 42.3 percent of the vote in his first year. Gossage, in his fourth year, actually slipped a little from 43 percent in 2002 to 42.3 percent in 2003.

"I don't get my hopes up too high, but a bunch of writers have called me in the last few days and they have a tendency to get my hopes up higher then I would normally," Gossage said. "I'm not going to say I'm not disappointed. I am disappointed, but life goes on. I know how in the past some guys have struggled to get in. When you don't have control of what's going on, then you have a tendency to believe what will be will be."

    Goose Gossage   /   P
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 217
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Career stats
Autographed ball
Yankees site

Carter, who was voted into the Hall on his sixth try, said other contenders shouldn't lose hope. Carter missed the cut by 11 votes last year when Ozzie Smith was the only BBWAA electee.

"It took me six years," Carter said. "That seemed like a long time, but when I got the call it made the five years seem like a minute. It wasn't so much about being patient as getting occasionally discouraged.

"You have to know there is a process, and I had to deal with the build-up every year," he said. "Each year I got a little closer. Last year was the most disappointing, with my wife, Sandy, planning the party and everything. But I never broke down. Good things happen to those who wait. It was tough, not the easiest thing to deal with. But it's a great thrill now."

Final results
 Player Votes   %
 Murray  423  85.3
 Carter  387  78
 Sutter  266  53.6
 Rice  259  52.2
 Dawson  248  50
 Sandberg  244  49.2
 Smith  210  42.3
 Gossage  209  42.1
 Blyleven  145  29.2
 Garvey  138  27.8
 *Kaat  130  26.2
 John  116  23.4
 Morris  113  22.8
 Trammell  70  14.1
 Mattingly  68  13.7
 Murphy  58  11.7
 Concepcion  55  11.1
 Parker  51  10.3
 Valenzuela  31  6.3
 Hernandez  30  6
 Kile  7  1.4
 Coleman  3  0.6
 Butler  2  0.4
 Fernandez  2  0.4
 Honeycutt  2  0.4
 Pena  2  0.4
 Daulton  1  0.2
 Davis  1  0.2
 Tartabull  1  0.2
 Jackson  0  0
 Tettleton  0  0
 Williams  0  0
 Worrell  0  0
*Jim Kaat final year on ballot

The relief pitcher became a phenomenon in the second half of the 20th century in Major League Baseball. Rollie Fingers and Hoyt Wilhelm are the only true relievers among the 58 former MLB pitchers in the Hall. Both were elected by the BBWAA.

Gossage, Sutter and Smith combined to pitch in 2,685 games and recorded 263 wins, 1,088 saves and 2,753 strikeouts, beginning in 1972 when Gossage came up as a starter and ending in 1997 when Smith retired. Each had a different style and a different influence. Gossage and Smith were power pitchers, while Sutter made his mark by throwing a split-fingered fastball.

"There are a couple of relievers in the Hall of Fame -- Fingers and Wilhelm -- and I don't have to take a back seat to either one of those guys," Gossage said. "The writers are having trouble right now figuring out where the relievers fit."

Other notables who missed election by wide margins were Jim Rice, who received 52.2 percent of the vote, and Andre Dawson, who received 50 percent. Rice was in his ninth year on the ballot and Dawson was in his second year. Ryne Sandberg, appearing on the ballot for the first time, was named on 49.2 percent of the ballots.

Dawson said he took heart from Carter's selection, even though he didn't expect to be elected this year. Carter, a catcher, and Dawson, an outfielder, were teammates on the Montreal Expos from 1976-84 when Carter was traded to the New York Mets.

    Andre Dawson   /   OF
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Nickname: Hawk

More info:
Career stats
Expos site

"I wasn't sitting by the phone today, actually I was in the gym working out," Dawson said. "I had a feeling in my gut that I wasn't going to get in this year so I didn't really want a lot of people around me. I take solace at Gary finally getting in. I thought that this was his year. After the last few years of frustration he can hold his head high."

As far as advice for guys like Dawson, Sandberg and the three relievers, Carter said: "The only advice I have is not to get impatient and realize there is a process. Let it play out."

Jim Kaat, who appeared on the ballot for the 15th and final time, got only 133 votes. He will still be eligible for election by the newly reconstituted Veterans Committee.

    Jim Kaat   /   P
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 217
Bats/Throws: L/L

More info:
Career stats
Twins site

When Murray and Carter are inducted, there will be 191 former MLB players enshrined in Cooperstown, 98 of them elected by the BBWAA.

By HOF rules, the 13 players who weren't mentioned on 5 percent of the ballots will not appear again. The list includes the late Darryl Kile, Vince Coleman, Brett Butler, Sid Fernandez, Rick Honeycutt, Tony Peña, Darren Daulton, Mark Davis, Danny Tartabull, Danny Jackson, Mickey Tettleton, Mitch Williams and Todd Worrell. Jackson, Tettleton, Williams and Worrell didn't receive any votes.

All 13 were on the ballot for the first time. For Kile, the pitcher who was found dead in his Chicago hotel room last summer, the rule requiring five years of retirement before Hall of Fame eligibility was waived.

Fernando Valenzuela, in his first year, and Keith Hernandez, in his eighth, barely received enough votes to remain on the next ballot. Valenzuela received 31 votes (6.3 percent) and Hernandez received 30 votes (6 percent). Pete Rose, who has been ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballot since he was suspended from baseball in 1989, received 18 write-in votes, the same as last year.

Rose, baseball's all-time leader with 4,256 hits, has applied for reinstatement and Commissioner Bud Selig is currently reviewing that application.

Barry M. Bloom is a reporter for and can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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