Henderson, makes Hall on 1st shot

Rice his last

Report: Grand jury weighing whether Clemens lied to Congress

Baseball Notes

January 13, 2009|By From Sun news services

Rickey Henderson sped his way into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot yesterday, and Jim Rice made it in on his 15th and final try.

Henderson, baseball's career leader in runs scored and stolen bases, received 94.8 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, well above the 75 percent needed.

Rice, among baseball's most feared hitters in the late 1970s and early 1980s, got 76.4 percent of the vote after falling just shy with 72.2 percent last year.

"The only thing I can say is I'm glad it's over with," Rice said. "I'm in there, and they can't take it away."

The undisputed standard for leadoff hitters, Henderson became the 44th player elected in his first year of eligibility. Rice was only the third elected by the BBWAA in his final year, joining Red Ruffing (1967) and Ralph Kiner (1975).

The pair will be inducted into the Hall during ceremonies July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be joined by former New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians second baseman Joe Gordon, elected posthumously last month by the Veterans Committee.

"I feel great about it. It's been a long time coming," Henderson said. "I was nervous, waiting."

Henderson, the 1990 American League Most Valuable Player, was a 10-time All-Star who swiped 1,406 bases, one shy of 50 percent more than Lou Brock, who is in second place with 938. Henderson batted .279 with 297 homers, 1,115 RBIs, 2,190 walks and 2,295 runs. He owns the modern-day season record with 130 steals in 1982, and the career mark with 81 leadoff homers. He played 25 seasons for Oakland, the Yankees, Toronto, San Diego, Anaheim, the Mets, Seattle, Boston and the Dodgers.

Rice received 29.8 percent of the vote in 1995, when he appeared on the ballot for the first time. He initially topped 50 percent in 2000 and reached 64.8 percent in 2006 - the highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.

Rice, the 1978 AL MVP, was an eight-time All-Star who hit 382 home runs in 16 seasons with the Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. He had a .298 career batting average and 1,451 RBIs.

Clemens: : A federal grand jury is investigating whether Roger Clemens lied to Congress last year, two people briefed on the matter told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret.

Congress asked the Justice Department to look into whether the seven-time Cy Young Award winner lied in February when he testified under oath at a deposition and a public House hearing that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

That contradicted the sworn testimony of his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, who said under oath that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

Astros: : Closer Jose Valverde, who last season led the National League with 44 saves, avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $8 million contract.

Angels: : Manager Mike Scioscia's extension puts him under contract through the 2018 season. Two people with knowledge of the negotiations told the AP the parties agreed to a 10-year deal that allows Scioscia to opt out after the 2015 season. Terms were not available.

Braves: : Japanese all-star pitcher Kenshin Kawakami was in Atlanta for a physical needed to finalize an agreement with the Braves, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the AP.

Also, Omar Infante, who started at five positions for Atlanta last season, agreed to a two-year deal.

Rangers: : Texas is exploring trade options for five-time All-Star shortstop Michael Young at the player's request after he became upset about the team's plan to move him to third base.

Et cetera: : This morning, the Red Sox are expected to formally announce the signing of pitcher John Smoltz. ... Shortstop J.J. Hardy agreed to a one-year, $4.65 million with the Brewers, avoiding salary arbitration. ... Pitcher Tim Redding completed his one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Mets. ... The Indians agreed to a one-year, $1.95 million contract with catcher Kelly Shoppach. ... The Rays agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with outfielder Gabe Kapler.

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