Dawson elected to HOF; Alomar, Blyleven just miss
In a bit of a surprise, slugging outfielder Andre Dawson was the only player elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, with second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven each missing by fewer than 10 votes.
Dawson, 55, was listed on 420 (77.9 percent) of the 539 votes cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, with 75 percent required for election. It was Dawson's ninth year on the ballot; in his first year, 2002, he received just 45.3 percent.
Dawson's candidacy was based largely on the strength of his 438 career homers, his eight Gold Gloves and the 1987 MVP award he won for the last-place Chicago Cubs. Undoubtedly, Dawson also benefited from last year's election of Jim Rice--a comparable hitter who lacked Dawson's defensive prowess.
Blyleven, 58, came excruciatingly close in his 13th year on the ballot, receiving 400 votes, or 74.2 percent. Thus, he missed by a mere four votes. Still, Blyleven's showing bodes well for his chances in 2011; his support among voters has steadily grown from a paltry 17.5 percent in 1998, his first year on the ballot, to 62.7 percent in 2009, and finally to this year's increase -- aided largely by a grass-roots campaign on his behalf from baseball's sabermetrics community.
Alomar, in his first year on the ballot, received 397 votes, or 73.7 percent, falling eight votes short. Alomar, who turns 42 next month, was widely considered the greatest second baseman of his era and one of the best of all-time. During a 12-year stretch from 1990 to 2001, he made 12 all-star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves and finished in the top six in most valuable player voting five times.
Beyond Alomar, Jack Morris (282 votes, 52.3 percent), Barry Larkin (272, 51.6 percent), Lee Smith (255, 47.3 percent), Edgar Martinez (195, 36.2 percent) and Tim Raines (164, 30.4 percent) came closest. Mark McGwire, considered the first test-case of the so-called Steroids Era, finished with 128 votes (23.7 percent), roughly in line with his previous finishes since first appearing on the ballot in 2007.
Dawson, along with umpire Doug Harvey and former manager Whitey Herzog -- elected last month by the Veterans' Committee -- will be inducted into the Hall during a ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y. on July 25.
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