January 06, 2010

NEW YORK (SI.com) -- In one of the tightest elections ever, Andre Dawson was the only player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

"I really can't explain the elation," Dawson told MLB Network. "It's the greatest feeling an individual can have."

Dawson received 77.9 percent of the vote, just above the 75 percent needed for enshrinement. Bert Blyleven got 74.2 percent, missing election by just five votes. Roberto Alomar, widely expected to be a shoo-in, finished third with 73.7 percent. Jack Morris and Barry Larkin were the only other players to top 50 percent.

Dawson was the 1977 National League Rookie of the Year with the Montreal Expos and the 1987 NL MVP with the Chicago Cubs. He made eight All-Star teams and won eight Gold Glove awards in his 21-year career spent with the Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins. Despite 12 knee surgeries, Dawson finished with 438 home runs and 1,591 RBIs. He joins Barry Bonds and Willie Mays as the only players with 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases.

Dawson had receieved at least 50 percent of the vote in all but one of his eight previous years on the ballot and had 67.9 percent in 2009.

Blyleven received 62.7 percent of the vote last year. Every player who has gotten 70 percent of the vote in a given year without being elected has eventually been voted in.

Alomar's vote total of 397 was the highest ever by a first-year player who was not elected. He was a 12-time All-Star and a 10-time Gold Glover during a 17-year career.

Former manager Whitey Herzog and long-time umpire Doug Harvey were elected by the Veteran's Committee last month.

The Hall of Fame inductions will be July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

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