Bagwell, Raines, Rodriguez to join Baseball Hall of Fame

NEW YORK, USA - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were named Wednesday, July 18 (Thursday Manila time) as the newest Baseball Hall of Fame members while steroid-linked stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens edged nearer to selection.

Players needed 75 percent support, or 332 of the 442 votes cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, to be elected among the sport's icons.

Long-time San Diego pitcher Trevor Hoffman, an ace reliever with 601 career saves, just missed with 74 percent backing - 5 votes shy after missing by 34 last year, with Vladimir Guerrero next at 71.7 percent, out by 15 votes.

The new trio will be enshrined July 30 at Cooperstown, New York, along with two chosen by a committee for off-field achievements - former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who oversaw the circuit from 1992-2015, and Atlanta Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz.

Bagwell, a long-time Houston Astros first baseman in seventh year on ballot, played his entire 15-year career in Houston and became only the second Astro inducted after Craig Biggio in 2015.

Bagwell, 48, had 2,314 hits, a club-record 449 home runs and 1,529 runs batted in before retiring in 2005. 

'Best call ever'

Raines, in his 10th and final year on the ballot, played for 6 teams over 23 seasons, winning World Series titles with the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1998. The leadoff ace was a 4-time National League stolen base champion, finishing with 808 for his career, and the 1986 NL batting champion, batting .294 for his career with 2,605 hits and 980 runs batted in.

"A lot of excitement," Raines said. "I felt like I had a legitimate chance. This was the first year I actually lost sleep. It was the last year. I knew I was 23 votes away last year.

"I'm a happy young man. I got what I was looking for."

Puerto Rico's Rodriguez, who played for 6 clubs from 1991 to 2011, became only the second catcher elected in his first year on the ballot after Johnny Bench. The 14-time All-Star denied base stealers 46 percent of the time, led those who were primarily catchers in career hits with 2,844 and helped the Florida Marlins win the 2003 World Series.

Record-setting slugger Bonds and ace pitcher Clemens, who each have 5 more years on the ballot, were linked to performance-enhancing drugs by investigators and charged with lying under oath when they denied taking steroids, but neither was convicted.

Still, links to trainers who used performance-enhance drugs tainted their achievements and legacy during the final years of their careers.

But Clemens jumped from 45.8 percent backing last year to 54.1 percent this year and Bonds went from 44.3 percent to 53.8 percent, a third consecutive jump giving them hope of making the cut as the "steroid era" fades into the past.

Bonds, 52, hit a North American record 762 career home runs, including a one-season record of 73 in 2001. The seven-time National League Most Valuable Player was a 14-time All-Star in playing for Pittsburgh from 1986-1992 and the San Francisco Giants from 1993 until his 2007 farewell.

Bonds, who served as a hitting coach last season for the Miami Marlins, had a .298 career batting average with 2,935 hits and 1,996 runs batted in.

Roger Clemens, 54, played from 1984 to 2007 with Boston, Toronto, Houston and the New York Yankees, with whom he won World Series crowns in 1999 and 2000.

Clemens, nicknamed "Rocket" for his fiery fastballs, was an 11-time All-Star and a record 7-time winner of the Cy Young Award as a league's top pitcher for a season. He went 354-184 on the mound with 4,672 strikeouts - third on the all-time MLB list - and a 3.12 earned-run average. –