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Former Phillies 3B Scott Rolen elected to Hall of Fame

Digital Brief: Jan. 24, 2023 (AM)
Digital Brief: Jan. 24, 2023 (AM) 02:45

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- A former Philadelphia Phillie will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer. Scott Rolen was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Tuesday night with five votes to spare above the 75% needed.

The seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner appeared on 297 of 389 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America for 76.3%. A player needed 292 votes for election.

"You don't think about this. You think about doing the best you can," Rolen said. "I never thought the Hall of Fame was going to be the answer."

Rolen had a .281 batting average with 316 homers and 1,287 RBIs for Philadelphia (1996-2002), St. Louis (2002-07), Toronto (2008-09) and Cincinnati (2009-12). He was a unanimous pick as the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year and hit .421 as the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series.

Rolen's five-vote margin tied for the 12th-smallest among players elected by the writers and his 76.3% of the vote was the 10th lowest. Rolen increased from 63.2% last year and 10.2% in his first ballot appearance in 2018.

That became the lowest first-ballot percentage of a player later elected. The previous mark had been Duke Snider's 17% in 1970. Snider was voted in with 86.5% in 1980.

"On behalf of the Phillies, I want to congratulate Scott Rolen on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a player. He richly deserves this award," Phillies managing partner John Middleton said. "Philadelphia was privileged to have witnessed the beginning of his extraordinary baseball career.

"In addition to being one of the most impactful offensive and defensive players of his era, Scott played the game the right way. Whether taking an extra base with a headfirst slide or diving for a ball in the hole, his hard-nosed effort and selfless attitude resonated with our fans," Middleton added. "Along with his on-field contributions, Scott was a great teammate and a tremendous representative of the Phillies off the field. The Phillies look forward to honoring Scott for his momentous achievement at Citizens Bank Park this season at a date to be determined."

Rolen's 76.3% of the vote was the smallest margin for an electee since Al Simmons got 199 votes in 1953 for 75.38%, one more vote than needed. Ferguson Jenkins (75.4% in 1991), Ralph Kiner (75.41% in 1975) and Willie Keeler (75.55% in 1939) made it with one ballot to spare.

First baseman Todd Helton was second with 281 (72.2%) and reliever Billy Wagner third with 265 (68.1%)

Rolen joins Fred McGriff as the only members of the 2023 Hall of Fame Class. McGriff was elected last month by the contemporary baseball era committee.

Rolen is just the 18th third baseman elected to the Hall of Fame, the fewest of any position.

"It stems from an original prejudice that third base is not important defensively," John Thorn, Major League Baseball's official historian, said Monday. "I think Brooks Robinson changed that perception. So that just as relief pitchers for the longest time were regarded as failed starters rather than as a new position in the changing game, third basemen were regarded as washouts."  

Among players since the expansion era started in 1961, the only third basemen elected by the BBWAA have been Robinson (1983), Mike Schmidt (1995), George Brett (1999), Paul Molitor (2004), Wade Boggs (2005) and Chipper Jones (2018). Ron Santo was inducted in 2012 following a veterans committee vote.

"It's a very difficult position to play because you need to be very quick and the great third basemen have to be able to hit," former Commissioner Fay Vincent said. "And when you think about it, after Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt the number falls off pretty quickly."

Among 14 players appearing on the ballot for the first time, Carlos Beltrán received 181 votes. Beltrán's vote total likely was impacted by his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal en route to the 2017 World Series title.

Rolen increased his votes from 63.2% last year and 10.2% in his first ballot appearance in 2018.

Helton moved up from 52% and can have five more appearances, while Wagner rose from 51% and has two additional chances.

Next year's first-time eligibles include Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer, David Wright, José Bautista and Matt Holliday.

The induction ceremony will take place on July 23.

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