Ripken, Gwynn get a Hall of a call

Cal Ripken, holder of one of baseball's most cherished records, and Tony Gwynn, among the game's most prolific hitters, were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in balloting verified by Ernst & Young. They will be inducted into the Hall July 29 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

A record 545 ballots, including two blanks, were cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years' service, eclipsing by 25 the previous mark of 2006 when Bruce Sutter was elected. Players must be named on 75 percent of ballots submitted to gain election. This year, 409 votes were needed.

Ripken established a record by being named on 537 ballots, breaking the previous mark of 491 by Nolan Ryan in 1999. Ripken's percentage of 98.53 percent is the third highest in the history of BBWAA balloting behind Tom Seaver (98.83 in 1992) and Ryan (98.79 in 1999). Gwynn's percentage of 97.6 based on 532 votes ranks seventh all-time. Their election brings to 280 the number of elected members of the Hall. Of that total, 198 are former major leaguers, of which 105 have been through the BBWAA.

Ripken's most prestigious feat was playing in 2,632 consecutive games. He spent all 21 of his seasons in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles, mostly at shortstop and later at third base. Ripken was a 19-time All-Star, played in a record 16 consecutive All-Star Games and twice the game's MVP. He is the all-time All-Star vote leader with more than 36 million votes. Ripken was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1982 and the Most Valuable Player the following year when Baltimore won its last World Series. He won a second MVP Award in 1991 by which time he was on his way to such career numbers as 3,184 hits (14th), 603 doubles (13th), 431 home runs (35th), 1,695 RBI (20th), 3,001 games (8th), 11,551 at-bats (4th) and 127 sacrifice flies (2nd). He was a two-time Gold Glove winner, an eight-time Silver Slugger and hit .338 in 28 postseason games.

Gwynn played his entire major-league career (20 seasons) with the San Diego Padres. The 15-time All-Star had a .338 career batting average, the 20th highest in history, with 3,141 hits (18th), of which 2,378 were singles (9th). Gwynn hit over .300 every season except his rookie year of 1982 when he hit .289. His career-high .394 average in 1994 is the highest in the majors in the 65 years since Ted Williams was the last player to bat over .400 (.406). In addition to winning eight NL batting crowns, Gwynn had five 200-hit seasons, led the league in hits seven times, batted .371 in his two World Series and earned five Gold Gloves for fielding his position in right field to go with his seven Silver Slugger Awards for offense.

Relief pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage fell 21 votes shy of election with 388 (71.2%). The only other players receiving more than half the vote were outfielders Jim Rice with 346 (63.5%) and Andre Dawson with 309 (56.7%).

Of the 15 players other than Gwynn and Ripken on the ballot for the first time, only two received sufficient support to remain in consideration, first baseman Mark McGwire and outfielder-designated hitter Harold Baines. Players must be listed on five percent of the ballots (28 this year) to stay on the ballot for up to 15 years. McGwire had 128 votes (23.5%) and Baines 29 (5.3%).

In his 15th and final year on the ballot, Steve Garvey got 115 votes (21.1%). Also dropping off the ballot in his second year was pitcher Orel Hershiser (4.4%). Other holdovers who will remain on the ballot are Bert Blyleven (47.7%), Lee Smith (39.8%), Jack Morris (37.1%), Tommy John (22.9%), Dave Concepcion (13.6%), Alan Trammell (13.4%), Dave Parker (11.4%), Don Mattingly (9.9%) and Dale Murphy (9.2%).

The vote:

Cal Ripken 537 (98.5%), Tony Gwynn 532 (97.6%), Rich "Goose" Gossage 388 (71.2%), Jim Rice 346 (63.5%), Andre Dawson 309 (56.7%), Bert Blyleven 260 (47.7%), Lee Smith 217 (39.8%), Jack Morris 202 (37.1%), Mark McGwire 128 (23.5%), Tommy John 125 (22.9%), Steve Garvey 115 (21.1%), Dave Concepcion 74 (13.6%), Alan Trammell 73 (13.4%), Dave Parker 62 (11.4%), Don Mattingly 54 (9.9%), Dale Murphy 50 (9.2%), Harold Baines 29 (5.3%), Orel Hershiser 24 (4.4%), Albert Belle 19 (3.5%), Paul O'Neill 12 (2.2%), Bret Saberhagen 7 (1.3%), Jose Canseco 6 (1.1%), Tony Fernandez 4 (0.7%), Dante Bichette 3 (0.6%), Eric Davis 3 (0.6%), Bobby Bonilla 2 (0.4%), Ken Caminiti 2 (0.4%), Jay Buhner 1 (0.2%), Scott Brosius 0, Wally Joyner 0, Devon White 0, Bobby Witt 0.

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