Legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous choice for the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Rivera, who was in his first year on the ballot, was elected to Cooperstown alongside Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina. He is now the first and only candidate to be named on every ballot (all 425) submitted to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
Rivera is of course an obvious Hall of Famer. Even if you rightly observe that relievers are generally less valuable than starting pitchers, Rivera still towers. In addition to being the all-time saves leader and boasting a careerof 205 -- the highest in MLB history by a pitcher to throw at least 1,000 innings -- Rivera was completely dominant in the postseason (0.70 ERA in 96 playoff appearances) and forged a sterling reputation off the field.
That said, going back to the first Hall of Fame class of 1936 -- in which Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson were elected -- no player has been named on every ballot. Prior to Rivera's election, Ken Griffey Jr. held the record for highest BBWAA ballot percentage with 99.3 percent in 2016.
Now that Rivera has quenched the drought, unanimous Hall of Famers should become more commonplace in the years to come. After all, "if the Babe/Willie Mays/Ted Williams/Hank Aaron didn't get 100 percent, then [insert obvious Hall of Famer] shouldn't either," was the rationale for too long. Now that's gone. Don't be surprised if Rivera's long-time Yankee teammate, Derek Jeter, becomes the second unanimous Hall of Famer when he hits the ballot for the first time in 2020.