NEW YORK -- On an evening when a pair of former Yankees received telephone calls trumpeting their upcoming induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina each continued their respective climbs toward a possible date in Cooperstown.
The right-handers each enjoyed their best showings yet on ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America as they seek the 75 percent needed for induction. Clemens appeared on 54.1 percent (239 votes) in his fifth try, while Mussina was close behind at 51.8 percent (229 votes) in his fourth attempt.
A 354-game winner and seven-time Cy Young Award winner who struck out 4,672 batters in a 24-year career, Clemens owns an incredible statistical case, but his candidacy has been slowed following his inclusion in the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroids use in baseball.
A Yankee from 1999-2003 and again in '07, Clemens debuted on the ballot in '13, picking up 37.6 percent. He received 45.2 percent last year.
Many voters also believe that Mussina, a five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, presents a convincing case. Mussina received just 20.3 percent of the vote in 2014 but has gained ground in each following try. Mussina's support grew to 24.6 percent in '15 and 43 percent in '16.
Spending his 18-year career with the Orioles (1991-2000) and Yankees (2001-08), Mussina compiled a lifetime record of 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA, his entire workload coming in the American League East during an era of high offense. Mussina won at least 15 games in 11 seasons and recorded 2,813 strikeouts, good for 19th all-time.
"There's no question in my mind he's a Hall of Famer," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "What he's done in the period of the steroid era, unfortunately, in the American League East -- I don't care what that record is. Some people say 300 wins is an automatic plateau.
"What he did to get 270 total wins, with all those things combined -- in a division where the Red Sox and Yankees have been slugging it out ... [in] the toughest division in baseball for at least a decade -- I just think it has been spectacular for the length and consistency. He's one of the all-timers."
Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez will each see their time in pinstripes denoted on plaques, though their most memorable performances came in other uniforms. Raines played three seasons for the Yankees from 1996-98, adding veteran presence to the clubhouse and picking up two World Series rings. Rodriguez played 33 games with the Yankees at the end of the 2008 season.
Other former Yankees appearing on this year's Hall of Fame ballot included Lee Smith (151 votes, 34.2 percent), Gary Sheffield (59 votes, 13.3 percent) and Jorge Posada (17 votes, 3.8 percent).
Posada did not receive the necessary 5 percent to remain on the ballot and will next have his candidacy examined by the members of the Today's Game Committee at the 2017 Winter Meetings, for potential induction in 2018.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.