In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Larry Walker became the second Canadian elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the writers, joining Ferguson Jenkins who was elected in 1991. He received 304 votes, representing 76.6% of the 397 ballots cast, just north of the 75% required threshold. It’s a great moment for not only him, but Canadian baseball, and long-overdue.
Walker’s election caps a meteoric rise of historical proportion. Though he debuted at 20% back in 2011 and hovered in the low-20s for the next couple years, failing to gain any traction. In 2014, the backlog of qualified candidates and resulting ballot crunch caused him to fall down to 10%, rebounding to just 12%, then 15.5% and 22% three years ago. That got him just back to where he was in his first couple years, and his candidacy appeared dead in the water.
From there his vote totals took off like a rocket, to 34% and then a stunning 55%. That still left him 20%, a huge leap which I figured was too much to surmount especially as the pool of persuadable voters shrinks each year. But he made it with six votes to spare.
In related news, the BBWAA also elected a second player, a long time Yankees shortstop, Derrick Jetah or something. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. If not, I’m sure Pat Tabler will be sure to remind you if he does any Blue Jays games this summer. He fell one vote shy of joining Mariano Rivera as the second unanimous selection, which is such a shame. I can’t begin to convey just how sad it makes it makes me that he was only named on 396 of 397 votes. Whomever left him off should be
feted and given a parade down Fifth Avenue tarred and feathered. Re2pect.
In terms of future implications, Curt Schilling fell just short at 70%, which should set him up for induction next year (especially with no slam dunk joining the ballot). Roger Clemens and Barry Binds continue to spin their wheels and absent a major reconsideration seem likely to fall off the ballot in two years time. Omar Vizquel is next in line, crossing the 50% threshold, and though he’ll assuredly be in Cooperstown someday, I’d wager he’s too polarizing to get to 75%.
Instead, the player who I think is best served by today’s development is Scott Rolen. Not only did he make a big jump to 35%, with seven years left to grow support, but he’s essentially an infield version of Larry Walker. A great defender who had a pretty short career due to injuries, was a very productive player when on the field who had one massive MVP season in which everything came together. Walker being in sets a very good precedent for him.