Mariano “Mo” Rivera

In 1936 the first vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame was held. There were many candidates, but a few absolute shoo-ins. Certainly Ruth, Cobb, and Wagner would be selected by every voter. Walter Johnson received 83.6% and Christy Mathewson received 90.7%. Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, and Babe Ruth also made it. Wagner and Ruth had 95.1% and the great Ty Cobb finished with the highest vote total at 98.2%. In 1955, Joe DiMaggio was up for election and received 88.8%. In 1962, one of the greatest pitchers to live, Bob Feller, was ready to be enshrined. He was of course, but with 93.8%. A few years after him in ’66, Ted Williams received 93.4% and then in ’69 Stan Musial took 93.2% of the vote and the curse of the unanimous carried into the 70s. Mantle claimed 88.2% in 1974, but in 1979 it was surely going to end. Willie Mays was on the ballot and the unanimous streak would surely snap, but he posted a 94.7%. Hank Aaron graced the ballot in 1982 and was rewarded with a 97.8%, the highest since Cobb. The next year, Brooks Robinson had a 92%. In ’89, Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Bench reached over 90%. Bench even crossed the 95 mark with 96.4%. Jim Palmer was handed 92.6% and in ’91, Rod Carew received 90.5%. In ’92, Tom Seaver broke Ty Cobb’s record with a 98.8% showing. Reggie Jackson pulled down 93.6% in ’93. In 94, Steve Carlton received 95.6%. Mike Schmidt capped off the 7 year run of 90+ finishes with 96.5%. In ’99, George Brett and Nolan Ryan took their shot at 100%. Brett finished with 98.2 and Ryan tied Seaver’s record with 98.8. Ozzie Smith crossed the 90 mark with 91.7% in ’02. In ’05, Wade Boggs was voted in with 91.9%. 2007 was the year, both Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn were up to bat. They both did cross 95%, Gwynn with 97.6% and Ripken with 98.5%. Rickey Henderson swiped 94.8% in ’09 and Roberto Alomar came in at 90% in 2011. In 2014, Glavine made it in with 91.9% and was joined by former teammate, Greg Maddux who came in at 97.2%. The next year Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson took the mound. Pedro won 91.1% and Johnson won 97.3%. Then came Griffey. Ken Griffey Jr. was the great hope for the 100% club. He, of course, fell two votes shy, but broke the record with 99.3%. In 2018, Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones were enshrined with over 90%. Vlad with 92.9 and Chipper with 97.2%. Which brings us to this year and this closer. 33 players before him went over 90, and 16 over 95, but there is only one 100. Maybe it says more about the writers than the player. I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that Mo is better than Ruth, Cobb, or Feller. However, it must say something incredible about the man that he received unanimous support five years after he was done shocking us. He left us with no doubt, the 9th inning belonged to Mariano. The other team seemed to be there for show, a prop for the greatest closer. He is one of the few great ones who’s mistakes get spoken about and remembered. Partly, because as a closer, his mistakes cost the game and the pennant or World Series, but also because they were astounding. It has been oft repeated that more people have walked on the moon (12) than scored off of Rivera in the playoffs. In a sport of such failure, one man seemed to never fail. Everyone knew what was coming and yet it didn’t matter. The greatest closer of all time, the most perfect weapon, is going out how he pitched, with perfection.

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