Longtime New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Tuesday became the first player ever to be voted unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining former Yankees and Baltimore Orioles ace Mike Mussina, the late Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay and former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez.
Rivera, who holds the record for most saves all-time and won five World Series championships, made it into Cooperstown on his first try with the vote of all 425 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). No one had ever been a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame before Rivera, who broke Ken Griffey Jr.'s mark of 99.32 percent of the vote from two years ago.
Rivera set the career saves record with 652 in 19 seasons plus 42 more in the postseason. The Yankees didn't even wait until his final game to retire his No. 42 — he was the last player in the major leagues to wear that number, grandfathered when No. 42 was retired in honor of Jackie Robinson in 1997.
Rivera's efficiency was renowned on a Yankees' dynasty that he helped win championships: He retired the side in order in 229 of his 491 three-out saves. according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He broke the previous mark of 601 saves, set by 2018 inductee Trevor Hoffman.
President Trump, a native New Yorker, tweeted congratulations to Rivera, whom he described as: "Not only a great player but a great person."
Halladay, who died in a 2017 plane crash, also was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, with 85.4 percent of the vote. He is the first person to be voted to the Hall of Fame posthumously on the first ballot since Christy Mathewson in 1936. (Roberto Clemente was elected to the Hall of Fame in a special election after his death in a 1972 plane crash in which the traditional five-year waiting period was waived.)
Halladay went 203-104 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 seasons with Toronto and four for Philadelphia. In 2010, he pitched a perfect game against the Marlins in May, then threw a no-hitter against Cincinnati in the NL Division Series opener — only the second no-hitter in postseason history after Don Larsen's perfect game for the Yankees against Brooklyn in the 1956 World Series. He retired at age 36 because of back injuries.
Martinez was voted into Hall of Fame in his 10th and final year on the writers' ballot with 85.4 percent of the vote after working his way up from 36.2 percent support in 2010. He rose from 27 percent in 2015 to 43.4 percent the following year, to 58.6 percent in 2017 to 70.4 percent last year, when he fell 20 votes shy of the 317 needed.
Martinez is the first player who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter to make the Hall of Fame. He hit .312 with 309 home runs in 18 seasons with Seattle.
Mussina was voted into the Hall in his sixth year of eligibility with 76.7 percent of the vote, just above the 75 percent threshold. He retired at the age of 39 after going 20-8 in 2008 and becoming the oldest first-time 20-game winner. He was 270-153 with 2,813 strikeouts in 18 seasons and had he remained active he had a chance to reach 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.
Mussina got 20.3 percent of the vote in his first appearance, rose to 43 percent in 2016, 51.8 percent the following year and 63.5 percent in 2018.
There was no place in the Hall of Fame for Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, who received 59.5 percent and 59.1 percent of the vote respectively in their seventh year of eligibility amid ongoing suspicions of steroid use. Former Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling led those who missed the cut with 60.9 percent of the vote in his seventh year of eligibility. Former Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker (54.6 percent) was the only other contender to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in his penultimate year on the writers' ballot.
The best chance for Schilling, Bonds and Clemens could come in 2021, when no first-time candidates are odds-on favorites. Longtime Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter heads the newcomers on the 2020 ballot. Schilling, an outspoken Trump supporter, received the commander-in-chief's endorsement Sunday evening when Trump tweeted: "Curt Schilling deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Great record, especially when under pressure and when it mattered most. Do what everyone in Baseball knows is right!"
The 2019 class is set to be enshrined July 21. Longtime outfielder Harold Baines and relief pitcher Lee Smith were voted into the Hall of Fame last month by the Today's Game Era Committee, who selected the pair from a special ballot of retired players and non-playing personnel who made their greatest contribution to the sport after 1987.
Sixteen candidates -- including pitchers Roy Oswalt, Freddy Garcia, Ted Lilly and Derek Lowe and position players Michael Young, Kevin Youkilis, Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman -- received less than five percent of the vote and will not be on the writers' ballot next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.