The 2009 Hall of Fame headlines rightfully belong to Rickey Henderson, who was elected the first year he was eligible, and Jim Rice, who was elected the very last year he was eligible. As for everyone else, well, there's always next year, right?
The short answer: it depends.
In Tommy John's case, no, there is no next year. Like Rice, this was John's 15th year on the ballot, the most that the Baseball Writers Association of America allows before ruling a player ineligible to be included on future ballots. Now, the only way John will ever be inducted is if the Veterans Committee votes him in -- that's the same committee that has inducted exactly one player since 2001.
John may be disappointed, but at least he spent a decade and a half on the ballot, which is more that can be said for the dozens of first-time eligible players this year who had their hopes crushed after just one try. A player needs be named on at least 5 percent of the ballots in order to maintain eligibility, which means only 11 players from this year will be included on next year's ballot.
As for the rest? Once again, the Veterans Committee, who will almost certainly hold their one-and-done status against them when it comes time for them to be re-considered. Guys like Mark Grace, David Cone, Matt Williams, Mo Vaughn, Jay Bell and Jesse Orosco (?!) appeared on the ballot and received at least one vote, while players like Ron Gant, Dan Plesac, Greg Vaughn appeared on the official ballot but were shut out completely.
In addition to the players the Hall of Fame screening committee included on the official ballot, there were a few dozen other players eligible as write-in candidates.
Who were they? In alphabetical order (deep breath): Steve Avery, Jason Bere, Mike Bordick, John Burkett, Omar Daal, Joe Girardi, Mark Guthrie, Joey Hamilton, Bill Haselman, Darren Holmes, Trenidad Hubbard, Todd Hundley, Brian L. Hunter, Felix Jose, Chad Kreuter, Graeme Lloyd, Keith Lockhart, Albie Lopez, Pat Mahomes, Al Martin, Orlando Merced, Charles Nagy, Denny Neagle, Troy O'Leary, Lance Painter, Dean Palmer, Craig Paquette, Tom Prince, Jeff Reboulet, Rick Reed, Rich Rodriguez, Terry Shumpert, Luis Sojo, Dave Veres, Matt Walbeck, Mike Williams and Kevin Young.
Not surprisingly, none of those guys received a single vote either.
There's Not Always Next Year for These Hall of Fame Candidates originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Mon, 12 Jan 2009 17:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.