Yankees ace Rivera joins Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, who retired in 2013 with a MLB record 652 career saves and a stunning 0.70 earned-run average in playoff games, is on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. — AFP

NEW YORK — New York Yankees ace relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, a member of five World Series champions, was among the star players named Monday to their first Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

The 48-year-old Panamanian right-hander retired in 2013 with a Major League Baseball record 652 career saves and a stunning 0.70 earned-run average in playoff games.

Rivera spent 17 of his 19 major league seasons as the Yankees closing reliever, helping them to World Series crowns in 1996, 1998-2000 and 2009. He was World Series Most Valuable Player in 1999 and the season's American League MVP in 2003.

While Rivera is considered the best new candidate on the ballot unveiled by the Hall of Fame, other hopefuls will home to receive the 75 percent support in a media panel vote to join the sport's legends when results are revealed on January 22.

Other first-time candidates include Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner as top pitcher whose two no-hitters include a perfect game and a playoff win, and Todd Helton, the Colorado slugger with most batting records for the high-altitude Rockies.

Former Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, a teammate of Rivera on five New York World Series champions, is also a first-time candidate with a major league record 19 playoff wins, but an admission of using human growth hormone to help recovery from a 2002 elbow injury could doom his chances.

Barry Bonds, with a career record 762 home runs and a one-season record of 73 homers, and Roger Clemens, among the top pitchers in history with 354 wins and a 3.12 ERA with 4,672 strikeouts, each reach the ballot for a seventh time but have been well short after links to doping during their careers.

The personal trainer for Bonds was involved in the BALCO steroids scandal while Clemens was tied to steroids late in his career by a former trainer.

Former Seattle slugger Edgar Martinez, in his 10th and final year on the ballot, had 70.4 percent support last January and hopes to secure the extra votes needed to cross the threshold for enshrinement. — AFP