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Blyleven gains steam in quest for Hall

Blyleven gains steam in quest for Hall

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- Bert Blyleven will have to wait at least another year in his quest to gain entry into Cooperstown.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame election results were announced Monday afternoon, and for the 12th straight year, Blyleven did not receive enough votes for induction.

Two players with 10 or more years of service were chosen from the 539 ballots submitted this year by the members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Rickey Henderson, baseball's career stolen bases and runs leader, was elected in his first year of eligibility, and outfielder Jim Rice earned the nod in his 15th and final year on the ballot.

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Henderson earned 94.8 percent of the vote, becoming the 44th player to be elected by the BBWAA in his first year on the ballot. Rice received 76.4 percent of the vote and is the third player in history to be selected in his final year. To be inducted, eligible players must receive 75 percent of the vote.

Blyleven finished fourth in the voting this year, as he was listed on 62.7 percent of the ballots (338 votes). It was Blyleven's highest vote total to date after he received 61.9 percent of the vote in 2008.

2009 Hall of Fame Inductions
2009 Results
PlayerTotal VotesPercentage
Rickey Henderson51194.8%
Jim Rice41276.4%
Andre Dawson36167.0%
Bert Blyleven33862.7%
Lee Smith24044.5%
Jack Morris23744.0%
Tommy John17131.7%
Tim Raines12222.6%
Mark McGwire11821.9%
Alan Trammell9417.4%
Dave Parker8115.0%
Don Mattingly6411.9%
Dale Murphy6211.5%
Harold Baines325.9%
Mark Grace224.1%
David Cone213.9%
Matt Williams71.3%
Mo Vaughn61.1%
Jay Bell20.4%
Jesse Orosco10.2%
Ron Gant00%
Dan Plesac00%
Greg Vaughn00%

Although it was another year of missing out on election, Blyleven saw his numbers once again inch closer to the 70 percent mark. It's a significant mark because every player who has reached 70 percent of the vote has subsequently been elected to the Hall of Fame. And since 1980, only four players have received over 60 percent of the vote and did not eventually end up in Cooperstown.

Blyleven's candidacy has been picking up steam over recent years. After receiving just 14 percent of the vote in 1999, his second year on the ballot, Blyleven's vote totals have jumped nearly every year.

For many people, it seems to be a puzzle as to why Blyleven has yet to be elected into Cooperstown. In a career that spanned from 1970-92 with the Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians and Angels, Blyleven ranks near the top of almost every important all-time pitching category.

The pitcher's 287 wins place him 27th on the all-time list. He is fifth in career strikeouts with 3,701 and ninth in career shutouts with 60. Of the top 20 pitchers on the career shutouts list, Blyleven is the only one not in the Hall of Fame.

But those who haven't voted for Blyleven point to him having just one 20-win season, two All-Star bids and no Cy Young Award during his career. In the key categories -- strikeouts, wins and ERA -- Blyleven only once led his league in any of them. That came with the Twins in 1985, when he led the American League in strikeouts (206).

Players are eligible to remain on the ballot for 15 years as long as they receive at least 5 percent of the vote. So Blyleven now has three more years to see if he will reach the 75 percent mark.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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