The National Baseball Hall of Fame will induct at least two new members next summer.
Sunday night the Hall of Fame announced Harold Baines and Lee Smith have been voted into Cooperstown by the 16-person Today's Game Committee. Twelve votes were needed for induction. Here are the voting results:
- Lee Smith: 16
- Harold Baines: 12
- Lou Piniella: 11
- All other received fewer than five votes
Piniella, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, and George Steinbrenner were also on the Today's Game ballot. Steinbrenner was of course the longtime owner of the Yankees. The other nine members of the Today's Game ballot were players, and Johnson, Manuel, and Piniella also had long managerial careers.
Baines, now 59, spent only five years on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot and he never received more than 6.1 percent of the vote. He played 22 seasons in the big leagues, including 14 with the White Sox, and retired in 2001 as a career .289/.356/.465 hitter with 2,866 hits and 384 home runs. Baines joins Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones as the only No. 1 overall draft picks to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Due to knee injuries, Baines spent most of his career as a designated hitter. He played only two innings in the field in the final nine seasons of his career and retired with 1,643 career games at DH. Only David Ortiz (2,029) has played more games at DH in MLB history. Baines joins Frank Thomas as the only players to go into the Hall of Fame with DH as their primary position.
The 61-year-old Smith exhausted his 15 years on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot in 2017. His voting percentage topped out at 50.6 percent in 2012. Smith retired with 478 saves -- he became baseball's all-time saves leader in April 1993 and held the title until Trevor Hoffman broke his record in September 2006 -- and a career 3.03 ERA in 1,289 1/3 innings. He played for eight teams, primarily the Cubs, in an 18-year career that spanned 1980-97.
Smith joins Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Hoyt Wilhelm as the only primary relievers in the Hall of Fame. He and Baines are only the third and fourth living former players voted into the Hall of Fame by the eras committees, joining former Tigers teammates Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were voted in by the Modern Game Committee last year.
The Today's Game Committee is one of the four eras committees that replaced the old Veterans Committee. The four committees meet every few years to vote on players and other baseball personnel from specific eras.
- Today's Game (1988 to present): Meets next in 2021.
- Modern Era (1970-87): Meets again in 2019.
- Golden Days (1950-69): Meets next in 2020.
- Early Baseball (1887-1949): Meets next in 2020.
The 16-person Today's Game Committee consisted of Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Pat Gillick, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Joe Morgan, John Schuerholz, Ozzie Smith, and Joe Torre; major league executives Al Avila, Paul Beeston, Andy MacPhail, and Jerry Reinsdorf; and media members/baseball historians Steve Hirdt, Tim Kurkjian, and Claire Smith.
Results of the Baseball Writers Association of American portion of the Hall of Fame voting, the main Hall of Fame voting process that takes place each year, will be announced in January. Here is the BBWAA ballot.
Hall of Fame induction weekend takes place each July in Cooperstown.