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Archive for Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Murray lock for Hall of Fame selection

But will anyone else — including Carter — earn necessary 75 percent of vote today?

January 7, 2003

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— Eddie Murray is headed to the Hall of Fame. With more than 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, there's plenty to put on his plaque.

So, will he have any company this summer in Cooperstown? All-time saves leader Lee Smith and second baseman Ryne Sandberg hope so, and All-Star catcher Gary Carter could be real close when the election results come out at 2 p.m. EST today.

"I know I'm deserving," said Carter, who fell 11 votes shy last year.

Murray is set to become the 38th person picked by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in his first year of eligibility.

Steady Eddie is the lone switch-hitter in the 500-3,000 club, whose only other members include Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

Murray, Sandberg and Smith are among 17 players on the ballot for the first time. Fernando Valenzuela also is on that list and so is Darryl Kile, the St. Louis pitcher who died of heart disease last season.

Kile was the third player to appear on the ballot early -- in the rare cases when an active player dies, the customary five-year waiting period is waived and reduced to six months. Roberto Clemente and Thurman Munson were the others.

Carter, Jim Rice and Jim Kaat are among the 16 carry-over candidates. So are Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage, hoping to expand the Hall's rank of relievers. It takes 75 percent of the votes to be elected.

The reconfigured Veterans Committee, which is considering former Kansas City and St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog and many others, will announce its results Feb. 26.

Induction ceremonies will be held July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Murray was an eight-time All-Star first baseman. He finished with 504 homers and 3,255 hits in 21 seasons, playing his first 12 years with Baltimore.

He never led the league in hitting, homers or RBIs in a full season, was never an MVP and never was friendly with the media, the people who do the voting. Still, his sheer numbers -- posted mostly before baseball's offensive outbursts -- should make him an automatic pick.

Sandberg and Smith also put up big numbers. Unfortunately for them, they were stuck for a long time on the Chicago Cubs, and neither reached the World Series.

Sandberg was a 10-time All-Star for the Cubs and holds the record for career homers as a second baseman (277) and highest fielding percentage (.989) at the position.

The 1984 NL MVP and a nine-time Gold Glove winner, Sandberg hit .285 lifetime.

That's the same batting average that Alan Trammell had and, despite having other similar numbers to Sandberg, the Detroit shortstop was listed on just 15 percent of ballots last year in his first try.

Smith recorded 478 saves and was a seven-time All-Star in 18 seasons. Too bad for him, he pitched in just four playoff games and was 0-2 with one save and an 8.49 ERA in them.

Only two relievers -- Rollie Fingers and Hoyt Wilhelm -- have been elected, and some insist Gossage and Sutter are more deserving.

Carter is on the ballot for the sixth time, and has been getting closer each time. He was picked on 72.7 percent of the ballots last year. A six-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover, Carter helped the New York Mets win the 1986 championship. Last January, he thought he'd get the call to Cooperstown.

"I think I was more disappointed last year because my wife was busy setting up a party to celebrate," he said.

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