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Rivera, Halladay, Martinez, Mussina Elected To Baseball's Hall Of Fame

Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera poses with his Monument Park plaque in 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Rich Schultz
Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera poses with his Monument Park plaque in 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York.

Updated at 8:21 p.m. ET

Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees' closing pitcher who posted a record 652 saves over his 19-year career, is the first player to be unanimously selected for Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Two other pitchers, the late Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina, and slugger Edgar Martinez were also elected.

Rivera received all 425 votes cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The stars all received at least 75 percent of the ballots cast. Players must be retired for five years to be eligible for the honor.

In 2014, Rivera told NPR that as he grew up in poverty in Panama, he had far different expectations from life.

"I wanted to be a mechanic. So I would have saved all the money that I make to open my own shop," he said.

Roy Halladay, who won two Cy Young Awards and made eight All-Star appearances, played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies. Winning 203 games in his 16-year career, he was known as a workhorse, posting 67 complete games — the most in the major leagues — since 2000. He is also the third posthumous Hall of Fame inductee. Halladay died in November 2017 when he crashed the airplane he was flying into the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida coast.

Edgar Martinez was a .312 hitter in his 18 years with the Seattle Mariners. He hit 309 home runs, won two batting titles and was a seven-time All-Star. Martinez is also one of three inductees — the others were Frank Thomas and Harold Baines — who played most of their careers as designated hitters.

Mike Mussina played 18 years for the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, winning 270 games, striking out 2,813 batters and posting a career 3.68 earned run average. He was a five-time All-Star who won at least 11 games every year from 1992 to 2008. He also won seven Gold Gloves — an award for the top fielding position players.

As baseball fans earlier in the day awaited the news of which past stars would make the cut and have their names officially ranked with the game's immortals, ESPN reminded readers that there had never been a unanimous selection to the Hall.

"Among those who obsess about Hall of Fame balloting, there is a small subset who obsess over this twist of history: No Hall of Famer has received 100 percent of the vote. Somehow, 23 people didn't vote for Willie Mays. Nine people didn't vote for Hank Aaron. Imagine having a Hall of Fame ballot and not voting for Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. Twenty didn't vote for Ted Williams, but, hey, a lot of writers despised the man. In the first election in 1936, 11 writers didn't vote for Babe Ruth. The rules might not have been entirely clear: Ruth had just retired the previous year. Still, Ruth received just 215 votes out of 226 ballots."

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two stars tainted by the widespread reaction against performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, both fell short of the 75 percent vote threshold. Bonds received 59.1 percent and Clemens 59.5 percent. Both were in their seventh year of eligibility.

Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.