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News » Last pitch for Rice's supporters with his final Hall of Fame vote


Last pitch for Rice's supporters with his final Hall of Fame vote


Last pitch for Rice's supporters with his final Hall of Fame vote
My 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot arrived in the mail the other day. I gave it a once-over and then put it aside. I'll give myself several days to think about the candidates before filling it out and submitting it.

I know I'll be voting for Jim Rice, as I have since the former Red Sox slugger and MVP first became eligible 15 years ago. But this is his last year on the ballot. If he isn't named on at least 75 percent of the ballots, Rice will be dropped from the ballot and have to rely on the reconstituted Veterans Committee to install him in Cooperstown someday.

It has been several years since the Veterans Committee, which now includes living members of the Hall of Fame, has elected anyone.

The bright news is that Rice missed election by only 16 votes last year and was named on nearly 72 percent of the ballots. No player who has ever received 70 percent of the vote in a prior year has ever failed to be elected.

But there were no sure-fire candidates on last year's ballot, and Goose Gossage was the only one elected by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

This year Rickey Henderson is eligible for election for the first time, however, and it's a lock that he'll get the necessary support for induction next summer. Will Henderson siphon some of the support for Rice?

Voters can cast ballots for as many as 10 players. But some voters make it a practice never to vote for more than one. If a few of those writers who voted only for Rice last year vote only for Henderson this time around, it could cost Rice his deserved plaque in Cooperstown.

Other than Henderson, there don't appear to be any other new candidates worthy of being elected on their first try. I will say that a glance at Mo Vaughn's career impressed me more than I expected it to. But at 12 years, his career was too brief, and I don't expect to be voting for him.

I'll give you a peek at my ballot after I submit it in December.

Rice, incidentally, will receive the Judge Emil Fuchs Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Baseball at the 70th Annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner on Jan. 8 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston. It is the highest award bestowed by the Boston chapter of the BBWAA.

Dustin Pedroia, the American League's Most Valuable Player, will receive the Thomas A. Yawkey Award as the Red Sox MVP at the dinner. Pedroia will likely formally receive the AL MVP Award at the banquet.

Jon Lester will receive the Red Sox Pitcher of the Year Award, and former Lowell Spinner Jonathan Papelbon will get the Red Sox Fireman of the Year Award. Ex-Spinner Kevin Youkilis will get the Jackie Jensen Award for Spirit and Desire.

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who has been battling a chronic muscle fatigue disorder, will receive the Tony C. Award for overcoming a career-threatening injury or illness to resume his major-league career.

Other award winners at the dinner include Pawtucket Red Sox slugger Jeff Bailey, who gets the Minor League Award; Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey, who receives the Good Guy Award; the Rays' Joe Maddon as Major League Manager of the Year; and Rays GM Andrew Friedman as the Major League Executive of the Year. Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod will get the Unsung Hero Award.

The names of other award winners will be forthcoming.

Tickets to the dinner are priced at $150 and can be obtained by sending a check payable to the Boston Chapter BBWAA at P.O. Box 7346, Nashua, N.H., 03060. More information is available at www.bostonbaseballwriters.org.

Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie will receive the Dick Berardino Distinguished Alumni Award at the Lowell Spinners Alumni Awards Banquet on Jan. 12 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Lowell. Lowrie played for the Spinners in 2005 and led the New York-Penn League in on-base percentage with a .429 mark that summer.

Previous winners of the Berardino Award are David Eckstein, Mike Maroth, Lew Ford, Freddy Sanchez, and Papelbon.

Lowrie hit .258 with 25 doubles as a rookie with the Red Sox this past season. He also set a major-league record for most games by a rookie shortstop without making an error. Lowrie slumped late in the season after suffering a wrist injury. But it wasn't revealed until after the season ended that he had been playing with a separate wrist injury since May.

Shortstop Casey Kelly, the Red Sox' top draft pick in 2008 who hit .344 after joining the Spinners and helped them clinch their first Stedler Division title, will also be attending the dinner.

Three former Spinners have been added to the Red Sox' 40-man protected roster for 2009. Lefthanded pitchers Felix Doubront and Hunter Jones and catcher Mark Wagner were promoted.

Former Spinners southpaw reliever R.J. Swindle, who made his major-league debut with the World Champion Phillies this past summer, has been signed by the Brewers as a minor-league free agent.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

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