NOT THIS YEAR
Mike Mussina shared a thought with his wife that remained unchanged by Wednesday night’s end. It left him feeling unchanged as well.
The Montoursville legend and 18-year Major League Veteran was not selected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot Wednesday.
The former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees pitcher received 20.3 percent of the vote and 75 percent is needed to be inducted. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were the three players chosen.
“I told my wife when I got up today I wasn’t a Hall of Famer and I’m still not a Hall of Famer so it doesn’t change anything,” Mussina said. “It’s the way it worked out and if you get enough years on the ballot you can get a little more consideration the longer you’re out there, so we’ll see.”
The bonus for Mussina is that he does remain on the ballot since he received the necessary 5 percent. This year there was a log jam of outstanding pitchers and hitters, too, so Mussina’s
numbers likely will climb in coming years.
When Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven first appeared on the ballot, he received only 17.5 percent of the vote, but nine years later was inducted. Pitcher Don Drysdale received 21 percent on his first ballot in 1975 but was inducted nine years later. Combine that with 270 wins and a career 3.68 earned run average while playing in the fiercely competitive American League East his entire career, and Mussina has plenty of reason for optimism.
“There’s a lot of names on the ballot, a lot of guys that left the game the same time I did that get to the ballot, but that’s as far as it goes,” said Mussina, who retired following a 20-win season in 2008. “I’m going to get to the next ballot, so it’s good to move on and stay on the ballot another year. That’s saying something, too.”
Mussina received 116 votes and the only starting pitchers not selected who received more were Roger Clemens, Jack Morris and Curt Schilling. Clemens received a lower percentage than last year and Morris has been on the ballot for 16 years.
Voters could select only 10 players so the path to Cooperstown could open up in coming years.
“I don’t think I had any expectations. I knew the other names out there. I know first-year guys have to be pretty obvious to get in the first year. It’s part of the process and it’s reasonable,” Mussina said. “It would have been nice to have a little higher percentage but, looking at the numbers everyone else got, it seemed like it was a tough year. Maybe it’s just a testament to the level of the candidates this year.”
Do not expect Mussina to fret. He is busy coaching the Montoursville varsity basketball team for the first time and seems happy to be mentioned with other standout players.
“I’m not disappointed. I didn’t play baseball to go to the Hall of Fame,” Mussina said. “If it ever happens, it happens. But I’m pleased that I was considered and that I’m going to get to stay out there and get considered again.”
The Orioles selected Mussina in the first round of the 1990 draft and he made his Major League debut a year later. The seven-time Gold Glove winner pitched in two world series, was vital to the Yankees riveting extra-inning comeback win over the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 American League Championship Series and went 147-81 while in Baltimore. Mussina won 123 more games with the Yankees and helped them win six straight division championships from his first year in 2001 through 2007.