Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Relief Pitcher, Bruce Sutter Elected to Hall of Fame

After falling short a dozen times, Bruce Sutter was relieved. He became only the fourth reliever given baseball's highest honor, gaining election to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

"When the phone call came and the caller ID said `New York,' I thought, oh, maybe this is it," he said.


And when he found out he had made it, Sutter flashed a signal, giving a "thumbs-up" to his wife, sons and daughters-in-law."They started screaming," he recalled, "and, actually, I started crying."

Becoming the first pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame with no career starts, the split-finger pioneer was listed on 76.9 percent of the ballots, collecting 400 of a record 520 votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America who have been in the organization for 10 consecutive years or more.

"It was a call that you always hope for, but you never really expect it to happen," Sutter said. "I didn't think it would affect me or hit me as hard as it did."

Players needed 390 votes (75 percent) to gain election. Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice fell 53 short, finishing second with 337 votes (64.8 percent), one ahead of reliever Goose Gossage.

Sutter was the first player elected on the 13th try or later since Ralph Kiner in 1975. Rice was appearing for the 12th time and has three years remaining on the writers' ballot. Gossage was on the ballot for the seventh time.

It might be difficult for Rice and Gossage to gain votes next year, when Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire appear on the ballot for the first time. Each voter may select up to 10 players.

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