Hal: Baseball writers get vote right this time

And, yes, I voted for Aaron Boone

The baseball writers got it right, which isn’t always the case.

They elected four players to the Hall of Fame this time — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.

And neither Barry Bonds nor Roger Clemens gained much ground from last year due to their association with steroids.

Johnson, at 6-foot-10, becomes the tallest Hall of Famer and he stood just as tall on the pitching mound. His 100-mph fastballs and back-bending sliders put fear in the eyes of hitters.

Somebody once asked a hitter how he faced Bob Gibson, another Hall of Fame pitcher, and he said, “With tears in my eyes.” The same can be said of Johnson.

There was a night in Arizona when Johnson struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds in nine innings. When future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin struck out on a pitch and his bat sailed over the shortstop’s head, it was the farthest any object was projected by any Reds player.

Johnson received 97.3 percent of the votes and one wonders if the 2.7 percent who didn’t vote for him ever saw him pitch. The guy won 303 games and struck out 4,875 hitters, second all-time to Nolan Ryan (5,714).

The second-tallest pitcher in history (Jon Rauch was 6-11) was first in the voting, and the No. 2 vote-getter is one of the shortest pitchers to make it, Pedro Martinez at 5-foot-10.

Some were surprised Martinez received only 91.5 percent. While Martinez was dominant and awesome toward the end of his career, he won only 219 games and accomplished 20-win seasons only twice.

There may have been some writers who held it against Martinez for an incident during a fight with the New York Yankees when he knocked down 72-year-old Yankee coach Don Zimmer.

And there is the theory that Johnson wasn’t unanimous and Martinez didn’t get more votes because some writers assumed both would make it so they used that spot to vote for another player they thought deserved to make it but might not.

A writer can only vote for 10 players and this year’s ballot was stuffed with players deserving consideration.

I voted for all four who made it. In addition, I voted for Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Lee Smith and Aaron Boone.

Aaron Boone? Yes, Aaron Boone. He received two votes. I don’t know who the other guy was and why he voted for Boone, but I voted for him because of what he did for my career.

When I was going to quit in 2003 after losing a large portion of my eyesight, it was Boone who took me aside and convinced me not to. That made him a Hall of Famer in my heart.

Some wonder why John Smoltz made it — the third pitcher in two years to make it from that fabulous Atlanta Braves staff of the 1990s. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine made it last year.

I voted for Smoltz because he is the only pitcher in history to win 250 games as a starter and to save 150 games. After being an outstanding starter, he re-invented himself later in his career as an outstanding closer.

Craig Biggio, the first true Houston Astros player to make it, fell two votes short last year and made it this year with 82.7 percent of the vote. To make it, a player must receive a vote from 75 percent of the voters.

Biggio was the ultimate team player. He started as a catcher, was switched to center field and ended his career as a second baseman. And he sacrificed his body by getting hit by pitches 285 times.

Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines all received more than 50 percent and are solid contenders for next year. And Ken Griffey Jr. goes on the ballot next year, and if he doesn’t come close to 100 percent then some writers should lose their voting privileges.

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