Time for Perez, Fisk to turn in Hall pass?

Longtime stars may get votes needed with no automatics in field

January 11, 2000|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

Boston Red Sox postseason hero Carlton Fisk was overshadowed by the star-studded Hall of Fame Class of 1999, but he could be at the head of the class when the results of this year's Hall of Fame election are announced today.

Cincinnati Reds great Tony Perez has been waiting a long time, but there is no guarantee that his patience will be rewarded.

Neither Fisk nor Perez is a lock to gain the 75 percent vote necessary for induction at Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer, but they clearly are at the top of the list of 30 players who graced the ballot that was delivered to the voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America last month.

Both were named on more than 60 percent of the ballots last year and can only hope that the induction of superstars Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount last July has cleared the stage for their arrival this year.

"I'm close," Perez told the Associated Press recently. "I hope this is the year. It would be the greatest thing that happened in my career."

He can make a solid case for inclusion. Perez was one of the cornerstones of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine in the 1970s. He played in six playoffs, five World Series and seven All-Star Games, and ranks 18th all-time with 1,652 career RBIs. Each of the 17 players ahead of him on the RBI list are already in the Hall of

Fame. Fisk's career offensive numbers are not quite as impressive, but he owns major-league career records for games caught and home runs by a catcher, and he delivered one of the most memorable home runs in postseason history.

His sudden-death shot in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series has become one of the most enduring baseball moments of the television era and remains the high-water mark for the Red Sox in modern postseason play, but Fisk actually played 13 of his 24 seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Perez was playing first base when Fisk defeated the Reds to push the Series to a decisive seventh game. What is not so readily remembered is that Perez hit a big -- but less dramatic -- home run the next day to help the Big Red Machine rally from a 3-0 deficit to win the first of back-to-back world titles.

Last year, Fisk was named on 66 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility, falling 43 votes short of induction. Perez, in his ninth of a possible 15 years of eligibility, was named on 61 percent of the ballots, falling 71 votes short.

"This is the ninth time I've been in the voting, and every year is the same," Perez said. "I'm not getting too anxious. You get used to waiting after waiting so many years."

This year's ballot featured 14 first-time candidates, including starting pitcher Jack Morris and popular relievers Goose Gossage and Jeff Reardon. The ballot also included well-known holdovers Steve Garvey, Gary Carter, Tommy John, Bert Blyleven and Bruce Sutter.

If Fisk and Perez are to gain entrance to the Hall, this would be a good year for it. The ballot was crowded with can't-miss candidates last year and will include some impressive new names next year, including 3,000-hit club member Dave Winfield, fan favorite Kirby Puckett, Tigers great Lou Whitaker, Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly and four-time 20-game winner Dave Stewart.

There is always the possibility that no one will get the required 75 percent of the vote this year, leaving the Veterans Committee to decide who will take the stage at the July 23 induction ceremonies.

The Veterans Committee is responsible for inducting nonplaying personnel, such as front office executives, managers or broadcasters, and correcting any oversights among deserving former players. Big Red Machine manager Sparky Anderson and Twins star Tony Oliva will be among those under consideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Hall of Fame ballot

The 30 players on this year's ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Election results will be announced today:

Bert Blyleven.......... Tommy John

Bob Boone. ............Jim Kaat

Hubie Brooks .........Jack Morris

Gary Carter ............Dale Murphy

Dave Concepcion ...Dave Parker

Carlton Fisk ............Tony Perez

Steve Garvey .........Jeff Reardon

Rich Gossage ........Jim Rice

Ron Guidry .............Steve Sax

Bill Gullickson .........Lonnie Smith

Dave Henderson .....Rick Sutcliffe

Keith Hernandez .....Bruce Sutter

Charlie Hough .........Luis Tiant

Kent Hrbek ..............Bob Welch

Bruce Hurst ............Willie Wilson

Pub Date: 1/11/00

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