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National Baseball Hall of Fame

HALL OF FAME: Appy League alum Rolen gets the call; Billy Wagner getting closer to 75 % needed for induction

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NEW YORK — Billy Wagner fell short in earning a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023, but a former Appalachian League standout did get the call.

Slick-fielding third baseman Scott Rolen was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday with five votes to spare above the 75% needed.

The seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner appeared on 297 of 389 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for 76.3%. A player needed 292 votes for election.

He became the 18th third baseman elected to the Hall, the fewest of any position. Rolen will join Fred McGriff, elected last month by the contemporary baseball era committee, as the inductees at Cooperstown on July 23.

Rolen made his professional debut for the Appy League’s Martinsville Phillies in the summer of 1993, hitting .313 with 12 RBIs in 25 games. He is the 10th individual to have played in the Appalachian League to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Rolen’s five-vote margin tied for the 12th-smallest among players elected by the writers and his 76.3% of the vote was the 10th lowest. Rolen increased from 63.2% last year and 10.2% in his first ballot appearance in 2018.

First baseman Todd Helton was second with 281 votes (72.2%) and Wagner third with 265 (68.1%). Helton moved up from 52% and can have five more appearances on the ballot, while Wagner rose from 51% and has two additional chances.

A relief pitcher who played 16 seasons in the majors, Wagner racked up a 2.31 ERA, 422 saves and 1,196 strikeouts with five teams. He received 64 more votes than he did a year ago.

Rolen was 3-for-17 with zero home runs, no RBIs and six strikeouts against Wagner in his career. Still, the dominant closer gave props to his old foe last week in a telephone interview.

“He was like our era’s Brooks Robinson,” Wagner said. “He made these great plays and his defense was impeccable. He was physical, just a grinder and a great player.”

Several others also saw large increases: Andruw Jones moved from 41.1% to 58.1%, Gary Sheffield from 40.6% to 55% and Jeff Kent from 32.7% to 46.5%.

It was Kent’s final year on the writers’ ballot. Sheffield gets one more attempt.

Players tainted by drug suspensions again lagged. Alex Rodriguez was at 35.7%, up from 34.3%, and Manny Ramirez at 33.2%, up from 28.9%.

Among 14 players appearing on the ballot for the first time, Carlos Beltrán received 181 votes (46.5%). Beltrán’s vote total likely was impacted by his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal en route to the 2017 World Series title.

Next year’s first-time eligibles include Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer, David Wright, José Bautista and Matt Holliday.

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Billy's Ballots

A look at how former Tazewell High School star Billy Wagner has fared in each of his years on the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot:

Votes %

2023 265 68.1

2022 201 51.0

2021 186 46.4

2020 126 31.7

2019 71 16.7

2018 47 11.1

2017 45 10.2

2016 46 10.5

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Baseball Hall of Famers who played in the Appalachian League:

Scott Rolen (2023): 1993 Martinsville Phillies

Tony Oliva (2022): 1961 Wytheville Twins

Alan Trammell (2018): 1976 Bristol Tigers

Jim Thome (2018): 1990 Burlington Indians

Greg Maddux (2014): 1984 Pikeville Cubs

Cal Ripken Jr. (2007): 1978 Bluefield Orioles

Eddie Murray (2003: 1973 Bluefield Orioles

Kirby Puckett (2001): 1982 Elizabethton Twins

Nolan Ryan (1999): 1965 Marion Mets

Orlando Cepeda (1999): 1955 Salem Rebels

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