The Baseball Hall of Fame announced three new members on Wednesday, opening its doors to Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez. Bagwell, a slugging first baseman for the Houston Astros, was elected on his seventh attempt, while Raines, a star leadoff man for the Montreal Expos in the 1980s, was elected on his 10th. Rodriguez, who played mostly for the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers, joined Johnny Bench as the only catchers to be elected on their first try.
The trio of newcomers will join the former commissioner Bud Selig and the longtime executive John Schuerholz in Cooperstown, N.Y., for induction ceremonies on July 30.
Bagwell received 86.2 percent of the vote, Raines 86 percent and Rodriguez 76 percent, with 75 percent needed for election by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The first-time candidates Vladimir Guerrero (71.7) and the second-time candidate Trevor Hoffman (74 percent) were close behind, while Barry Bonds (53.8) and Roger Clemens (54.1) — whose candidacies have been clouded by direct links to the use of performance-enhancing drugs — received a majority of votes for the first time in their five years on the ballot.
Rodriguez made 14 All-Star teams and won 13 Gold Gloves while setting the career record for games caught with 2,437. He was the American League’s most valuable player for Texas in 1999, won a championship with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and is the first Hall of Famer to have played even one game for the Detroit Tigers since Al Kaline, who retired in 1974.
This was the last chance on the writers’ ballot for Raines, who debuted in 2008 with just 24.3 percent support from the writers. Over time, though, they came to appreciate a portfolio that included a batting title, 808 stolen bases (fifth on the career list) and a .385 on-base percentage. Raines played for six teams over all and helped the Yankees win championships in 1996 and 1998.
Bagwell was the National League’s most valuable player in 1994 and later led the Astros to six playoff appearances, including their only National League pennant in 2005, his final season. In his career, he hit .297 with a .408 on-base percentage, a .540 slugging percentage and 449 home runs, and twice stole at least 30 bases in a season.
Bagwell’s best years came in the era before testing for steroids, placing him in the same category, for some voters, as the former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, who was elected last year on his fourth attempt. Neither player has ever been formally linked to banned drugs, but some skeptical voters delayed supporting their candidacies.
Yet the swift election of Rodriguez — who was named as a steroid user in a book by his former teammate Jose Canseco, who said he had injected Rodriguez and others – could help the momentum of Bonds and Clemens, who have both been strongly connected to performance-enhancing drug use.
Bonds, the career home run leader, and Clemens, the career leader in Cy Young awards, had polled around 36 percent in each of their first three seasons on the ballot. Last year, they jumped to the mid-40s, before another leap this year. As younger writers join the voting ranks and older writers depart, the outlook improves for both players, who have five more chances to be elected by the writers.
Newcomers on the next ballot, to be considered in December 2017, include Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Johnny Damon and Jamie Moyer. All players who received at least 5 percent of the vote this time will remain on the ballot except for Lee Smith, the former closer, whose eligibility has expired. Jorge Posada, the standout catcher for the Yankees’ recent title teams, was eliminated on his first appearance by receiving just 3.8 percent of the votes.