Craig Biggio just misses cut for Hall of Fame; Other notable snubs
Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens also were kept out of Cooperstown when Hall of Fame election results were announced Wednesday. And while first-time eligibles Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas sailed right in, the big stars still waiting remained a significant part of the story.
''Obviously, I'm disappointed to come that close,'' Biggio said in a statement. ''I feel for my family, the organization and the fans. Hopefully, next year.''
The seven-time All-Star, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Houston Astros, was selected on 74.8 percent of ballots with a total of 427 votes - two shy of the 75 percent required for enshrinement.
''I was, like, shocked,'' Thomas said. ''To hear that he didn't get in by two votes, man, I don't want to use the word `tragic,' but it's got to be a tragic moment for him right now. He was one heck of a player. It looks like he's going to get into the Hall of Fame in the future, but yeah, it's got to be a devastating day for him.''
Biggio topped voting at 68 percent last year in his first appearance, when members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America failed to elect anyone for only the second time in four decades.
He finished with 3,060 hits, 1,844 runs, 668 doubles and 414 steals. He set a big league record by getting hit with pitches 285 times.
Biggio broke into the big leagues as a catcher but won four straight Gold Gloves at second base. He also patrolled center field and left.
''As surprised as I was for Craig last year having not gotten in, you almost feel heartbroken for him this year, given as close as he was,'' Glavine said. ''Craig was a tremendous competitor. ... It's remarkable that he bounced around to as many positions as he did and played them all as well as he did. So I think it's just a matter of time before he's in the Hall of Fame.''
Biggio has plenty of chances left, but Morris does not.
Best-known as a big-game pitcher who won World Series rings with three different teams, the right-hander received 351 votes (61.5 percent) and fell 78 short in his 15th and final appearance on the writers' ballot.
He dipped from 67.7 percent in 2013 and displaces Gil Hodges (63 percent in 1983) as the player with the highest-percentage of the vote not in the Hall.
''Just the ultimate gamer. Sad he didn't get in today,'' Thomas said. ''The last few years I spent a lot of time with him ... so I know how much it meant to him. We're not going to lose hope now because he didn't make it this year. Hopefully the veterans committee can get him in.''
Morris went 254-186 with a 3.90 ERA, higher than any pitcher in the Hall. He threw 175 complete games and 28 shutouts.
His greatest moment came in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, when he pitched 10 shutout innings to lead Minnesota to a 1-0 victory over Atlanta.
His next chance at Cooperstown could come at the expansion era committee meeting in December 2016.
Piazza followed Biggio with 62.2 percent, up from 57.8 last year. Bagwell, a longtime teammate of Biggio's in Houston, dropped to 54.3 percent from 59.6, and Tim Raines to 46.1 from 52.2.
Bonds and Clemens, huge stars tarnished by steroids allegations, garnered less support than last year.
''They shouldn't get in,'' Thomas said. ''There shouldn't be cheating allowed to get into the Hall of Fame.''
In their second appearances on the ballot, Clemens fell from 37.6 percent to 35.4, Bonds from 36.2 to 34.7 and Sammy Sosa from 12.5 to 7.2.
Rafael Palmeiro, with more than 500 homers and 3,000 hits, was knocked off future ballots after dropping below 5 percent (4.4) with 25 votes.
Larry Walker rang in at 10.2 percent.
''My goal of staying on the ballot for all 15 years got one year closer today!!'' he tweeted with the hashtag ''content.''