© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
01/05/05 5:23 PM ET
HOF's 'Dynamic Duo' joined forever
Boggs, Sandberg enjoying wild ride after selection
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- They sat at a long table flanked by photographic montages from their halcyon playing days. Wade Boggs on the right, wearing that familiar cap and uniform of the Boston Red Sox. Ryne Sandberg on the left, decked out in the blue and white of the Chicago Cubs. Together they formally faced the media on Wednesday as the newest minted members of baseball's most hallowed fraternity -- the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Just to prove it, they were asked to don Hall of Fame uniform tops embossed with orange scripted letters across the chest. "This has been quite a ride. I rode a horse back in 1996," Boggs said, alluding to his gallop around the turf at Yankee Stadium after he won his only World Series title as a member of the New York Yankees. "But this is a Space Shuttle we're on right now. You had Batman and Robin and now you have Ryne and Wade. We're the dynamic duo and we'll forever be joined at the hip." Boggs was the 41st player to be elected the first time his name was placed on the ballot. His 474 votes were the third-highest in history, behind only Nolan Ryan (491) and George Brett (488), who were both elected along with Robin Yount in the outstanding class of 1999. The ride ended for Sandberg on Tuesday with the phone call that he had finally been elected to the Hall by 516 members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America on the third try. He made it by just six votes above the minimum of 387 -- 75 percent of the ballots cast. "I had pregame butterflies the whole morning," said Sandberg, who was awaiting the news at his home in the Biltmore area of Phoenix. "I spent the morning walking around the house going inside and outside, looking for something to do, but there was nothing to do. I was hoping something good would happen." The good news for both former players means they will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 31, giving baseball's red brick shrine on Main Street 195 former players, 102 elected by the BBWAA. That's no small feat, said Dale Petroskey, the Hall's president, as he introduced his two newest members. "Of every hundred players, who have the privilege of playing in the Major Leagues, only one makes it to Cooperstown -- one percent," he said. "It's a pretty special group." Eleven players have now been elected since the turn of the century and this pair follows Carlton Fisk, Tony Perez, Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Ozzie Smith, Gary Carter, Eddie Murray, and last year's dynamic duo of Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley.
Boggs and Sandberg spent an hour, on-and-off the dais, Wednesday eagerly answering questions about their careers and feelings.
What players, previously precluded from the Hall, should be voted in?
Boggs mentioned his former Red Sox teammate Jim Rice and pitching nemesis Bert Blyleven, both players who missed again this year. Rice received 59.5 percent of the vote and Blyleven only 40.9 percent.
"In my opinion I don't think there was a more feared hitter then when Big Jim walked to the plate," Boggs said. "And Blyleven, with his stuff, he'd jelly your legs in a heartbeat."
Sandberg made a pitch for former Cubs teammates Andre Dawson, Lee Smith and Goose Gossage, plus Bruce Sutter, the last of the relieving trio that has been shut out year after year. This year, Sutter finished with 66.7 percent, Gossage with 55.2 percent, Dawson with 52.3 percent, and Smith a distant 38.8 percent despite the fact that he is the all-time leader with 478 saves.
"(Dawson) is a guy who was the ultimate class act and one of my favorite teammates," Sandberg said. "With Eckersley (another Cubs teammate) going in last year, I'd like to see more of the closers get in."
And both players didn't shy away from the most controversial of all Hall of Fame questions -- should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall?
Boggs, with 3,010 lifetime hits, is 23rd on the all-time list. Rose, the all-time leader with 4,256 hits, is banned from baseball and has never appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot.
"He's the hit king. There's a void in the Hall of Fame. He needs to be in there," Boggs said.
"He's one of my childhood heroes and a former teammate. I still see him and we play a little softball together," said Sandberg, who was a September callup in 1981 when Rose was still with the Philadelphia Phillies. "He did the right thing last year by getting everything out in the open. Any guy who has 4,000-plus hits should be in the Hall of Fame. So I hope it's just a matter of time and there will be some forgiveness."
Sandberg was glad he didn't have to deal with the issue of what team he will represent when his visage is hung in the Plaque Room at Cooperstown this summer. The nine-time Gold Glove winning second baseman played virtually his entire 16 years with the Cubbies, save six at bats and 13 games in Philadelphia.
"To play my whole career with one team, that doesn't happen too often anymore. And to go in as a Chicago Cub, that's a bigger thrill than anything I can think of," Sandberg said.
Boggs, the 11-time All-Star third baseman, will go in as a member of the Red Sox. He played his first 11 years in Boston and won his five American League batting titles there. He followed that with five years in New York and two in Tampa Bay, where he homered in 1999 for his 3,000th hit.
Boggs said that if any part of his career was extracted, he wouldn't have had the statistics to be considered for the Hall of Fame. For that reason, he ultimately was happy the decision was made for him.
Just getting into the Hall of Fame was at one time unimaginable.
"It was like going from Mercury to Pluto," Boggs said. "I never even thought about it. For me to pick Boston, New York or Tampa Bay would've been impossible. For the museum to pick the hat that I wear, it's fine with me."
| 2005 Hall of Fame
The complete vote (516 ballots, 387 to gain election, 26 to remain on ballot):
Wade, Ryno are Hall choices
No doubts about Class of 2005
Boggs hits his way to the Hall
Ryno charges into Hall of Fame
Red Sox lavish praise on Boggs
Rays react to Boggs Hall call
From Beantown to Bronx to Hall
Sutter closing in on Hall of Fame
Boggs is fans' favorite to make Hall
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.