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Rice falls short again in HOF voting
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01/07/2003  2:15 PM ET 
Rice falls short again in HOF voting
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Along with Fred Lynn (center) and Dwight Evans (right), Jim Rice (left) was part of one of the best outfields in baseball. (courtesy Red Sox)
BOSTON -- One of the most prolific hitters in Red Sox history, Jim Rice isn't having much luck in his pursuit to reach the Hall of Fame. The former outfielder and slugger fell to 0-for-9 when Tuesday's votes were announced.

Of the 496 ballots cast, Rice received 259 votes. That figured out to 52.2 percent. The requirement for election to the Hall of Fame is 75 percent. It appears Rice has hit a plateau, as he has finished with between 52 and 58 percent of the votes the last four years.

While Rice, who has been on the ballot since 1995, was left on the outside looking in yet again, two hitters from his era -- Eddie Murray and Gary Carter -- will represent this summer's Hall of Fame class.

Rice finished fourth on this year's ballot. Closer Bruce Sutter, who revolutionized the split-fingered fastball, finished third with 53.6 percent of the votes.

Lee Smith, the all-time saves leader and Sox closer in 1988 and '89 -- fell short in his first year on the ballot. He finished seventh with 210 votes.

Hall of Fame 2003

Induction Ceremony
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York

The inductees
Gary Carter | Eddie Murray

Schedule of weekend events
Complete coverage

Rice has slipped three percentage points in each of the last two years, and it's looking like the Veterans Committee -- which he would be eligible for after 15 years on the BBWAA ballot -- might become his best option.

During Rice's playing days, he could turn around a slump by relying on his lightning-quick wrists and fearsome strength. But in the case of reaching the Hall of Fame, he's at the mercy of the voters.

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

Why is he continually bypassed? The most valid reason would seem to be the way his career sharply faltered over the final three seasons. This prevented him from reaching 400 homers -- he finished at 382 -- and led to his career average being a mere two points below .300.

But is 12 consecutive years as a star -- 1975-86 -- enough to offset that?

Apparently not for a man who played his entire career (1974-89) in a Red Sox uniform.

But this much is clear. During Rice's prime, he had few peers.

In 1978, he had no peers. Rice won the MVP that year, clubbing 46 homers and 15 triples while driving in 139 runs. That marks the only season in baseball history a player has led the league outright in homers, triples and RBIs.

While 1978 was his only MVP season, Rice finished in the top five six times.

The prime of his career was 1977-79, when he led the AL in total bases all three years. The only other AL players to accomplish that feat? Ted Williams and Ty Cobb.

Rice never quite reached the stardom achieved by his two predecessors in Fenway's left field, Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. But those are the only two players he trails on the team's all-time hit list. Rice had 2,452 hits, leaving him a little more than 500 shy of a milestone that would have cemented a spot for him in the Hall of Fame.

    Jim Rice   /   OF
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Career stats
Autographed baseball
Red Sox site
etopps
Yaz and Williams are also the only two Sox players who had more total bases than Rice's 4,129. They are the only two Boston players to hit more homers or drive in more runs than Rice.

His 834 extra-base hits rank him fourth behind Yaz, Williams and former teammate Dwight Evans. Rice also trails those three with 2,089 games played for the Red Sox. And only Yaz and Evans had more at-bats in a Sox uniform. Rice's 1,249 runs are fourth behind Yastrzemski, Williams and Evans.

During Rice's playing days, he'd respond to criticism by telling people to "look at the numbers."

Thus far, those numbers haven't been enough to crack baseball's elite club. But his place in Red Sox history has long been etched.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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