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The organization consists of leaders in business, government, entertainment, sports, technology, arts, and culture, whose goal is to shine a light on social and racial inequalities within the system and “give voice to the voiceless.”
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Closer Mariano Rivera, designated hitter Edgar Martinez and starting pitchers Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina will be the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rivera became the first played to be unanimously voted into the Hall.
The four were voted into the hall by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday. Of the four, Halladay and Mussina were first-round picks, though only Mussina was touted for stardom from the start of his career.
Rivera signed for $3,000, was left unprotected in the 1993 expansion draft, struggled in his initial big league trial as a starter and is now not only a Hall of Famer, but the first player the Baseball Writers Association has ever unanimously elected.
Martinez signed for $4,000, hit .173 in his first minor-league season, didn’t get the opportunity to become a full-time starter in the majors until he was 27, and is now a Hall of Famer.
The late Halladay was a first-round pick, but was once so lost in the majors that he had to go all the back down to Class A to rebuild himself as a pitcher. He’s now a Hall of Famer.
Mussina was an 11th-round pick out of Montoursville, Pennsylvania, in 1987, but went to Stanford University and then was a first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1990.
Rivera, Martinez and Halladay will join Lee Smith and Harold Baines in a unique Hall of Fame class: two closers, two designated hitters and a pitcher with 203 wins, the fewest for a starting pitcher since the Veterans Committee elected Addie Joss in 1978 with 160 wins. It’s also a much-beloved trio:
• Rivera, the greatest closer of all time with a record 652 saves over his 19-year career, helped the Yankees win five World Series titles, becoming one of the most iconic players in the storied history of the franchise. His postseason performance was even more remarkable than his regular-season dominance, finishing 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA over 96 appearances and 141 innings. He recorded 42 postseason saves – 14 of two innings. That’s more two-inning saves than all other relievers combined in the postseason while Rivera was active.
• Martinez spent his entire career with the Mariners, staying in Seattle and becoming a franchise icon while other stars — Griffey, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez — left. Martinez won two batting titles and hit .312 with 309 home runs over 18 seasons. He’s one of just six players who began their careers after World War II to retire with a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage.
• Halladay finished 203-105 in his career with a 3.38 ERA, playing 12 seasons with the Blue Jays and the final four with the Phillies. He won two Cy Young Awards, one with each franchise, finished second two other times, threw a perfect game and tossed a no-hitter for the Phillies in the 2010 Division Series against the Reds. He was also one of the last great workhorses. During his 2003 to 2011 peak, he threw 61 complete games — 30 more than the No. 2 guy (CC Sabathia).
• Musssina played 18 seasons, 10 with the Orioles and eight with the Yankees. He compiled a 270-153 record with a 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts. Mussina was a five-time All-Star and earned seven Gold Gloves. He never won a Cy Young Award, finishing second in 1999 behind Boston’s Pedro Martinez.
More than anything, however, these three players are testament to hard work and perseverance — and even a little good fortune. The Yankees left Rivera, then a Class A player who had suffered an elbow injury, exposed in the 1993 expansion draft. The Marlins were reportedly set to take him, but the Rockies selected Brad Ausmus, meaning the Yankees couldn’t lose any more players. The Yankees also nearly traded Rivera to the Mariners after Rivera posted a 5.51 ERA as a rookie in 1995. Instead, they moved him to the bullpen and one day in 1997, while playing catch with Ramiro Mendoza, his ball suddenly started moving. He had found his famous cutter.
Martinez spent most of three seasons in Triple-A, hitting .344 over 276 games. The Mariners wouldn’t give him a full-time job. When Darnell Coles made a bunch of errors at third base early in 1990, Martinez finally got the chance to play. He hit .302 that season and never stopped, topping .300 10 times, in part because of his great eye at the plate as he routinely finished with more walks than strikeouts.
Halladay came up to Toronto as a prized prospect and had a 3.92 ERA as a rookie in 1999. Everything fell apart in 2000, however, and he had one of the worst seasons in major league history: 4-7 with a 10.64 ERA over 67.2 innings. The next season, he started back in the Florida State League, the Blue Jays hoping Halladay could fix things enough just so they could trade him. They sent him to Double-A to work with pitching Mel Queen and the two rebuilt his mechanics — starting the first session by not even letting Halladay throw a baseball. He was back in the big leagues in July and won his first Cy Young Award in 2003. While Yankees fans celebrate Rivera’s induction in July, they can also make plans for 2020: Derek Jeter hits the ballot next year.