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Sutter, Smith miss Hall election
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01/07/2003  1:34 PM ET 
Sutter, Smith miss Hall election
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It's the same old song, with one new singer, when it comes to closers and the Hall of Fame.

Lee Smith joined Bruce Sutter, not to mention Goose Gossage and Todd Worrell, as relievers who are on the outside of the Hall of Fame looking in. Smith, the all-time saves leader with 478, received only 210 votes for induction (42.3 percent), well short of the necessary 75 percent. Sutter came in a distant third behind inductees Eddie Murray and Gary Carter, receiving 266 of a possible 496 votes (53.6 percent).

Hall of Fame 2003

Induction Ceremony
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York

The inductees
Gary Carter | Eddie Murray

Schedule of weekend events
Complete coverage

In his 10th year of eligibility, Sutter continued his steady climb up the balloting list. Last year, he received 50.4 percent of the vote, which was fourth most. He has five more chances for enshrinement by the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was Smith's first year of eligibility.

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

Only two relief pitchers currently are in the Hall of Fame: Hoyt Wilhelm and Rollie Fingers. Smith's strong first-year showing would seem to indicate that his long-term chances for enshrinement are good, though it will likely take a few years. Sutter's odds are probably a bit longer, but he certainly still has a chance.

Smith and Sutter make for an interesting study in contrasts. Sutter, with 300 saves, ranks 16th on the all-time list and seems likely to drop two more spots in the next couple of years. His claim to Hall of Fame eligibility is not his career totals so much as his brilliant peak. Few relievers were as good as Sutter at his best, and his split-fingered fastball was a revolutionary pitch.

Smith, meanwhile, has a case based on sustained quality. In addition to the saves record, he ranks fifth on the all-time games pitched list. He tallied at least 25 saves in 13 different seasons. Unlike Sutter, he never won a Cy Young Award.

But the most striking common thread between the two right-handers is that they saw one of baseball's best rivalries from both sides. Sutter got his start with the Cubs in 1976, and pitched at the Friendly Confines until a 1980 trade to St. Louis. His last year in Chicago was Smith's first, and two years later Smith took over as the Cubs' primary closer.

Sutter ended his career in Atlanta, and he tallied more saves as a Cub (133) than with any other team. But he pitched for a World Series champion team in St. Louis, and to many fans he is thought of first and foremost as a Cardinal.

>From Chicago, Smith made a stop in Boston, then was sent to St. Louis. He thrived as a Cardinal, enjoying one of his best seasons in 1991. That year, the imposing flame-thrower racked up 47 saves -- still a team record -- and posted a sparkling 2.34 ERA. He finished as the runner-up to Tom Glavine in National League Cy Young balloting.

Smith tallied 133 saves with the Cardinals before a 1993 trade sent him to the Yankees -- providing him with a second view of another of the game's best rivalries.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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