The wait is finally over for Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins and just beginning for Pete Rose.
Perry and Jenkins, who missed their first two years on the ballot, were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame Tuesday night along with Rod Carew."After waiting this long, it would really have been hard to take a disappointment for the third time," Perry said. "The first time I can accept. The second time I was disappointed. But I feel wonderful now."
Carew, who won seven American League batting titles, didn't have to wait at all and made it to Cooperstown on his first try. He is the 22nd player to be voted in the first year of eligibility.
"I did positive things on the field, positive things off the field, in the community," Carew said.
For Rose, baseball's all-time hits leader, what he did off the field may keep him out of the Hall of Fame and, perhaps, even off the ballot.
A panel, formed by Hall of Fame president Ed Stack, may propose a rule prohibiting any individual on baseball's permanently ineligible list from appearing on the ballot. Rose was placed on the list in August 1989 for his links to gambling. On Monday, he was released from prison after serving five months for tax violations.
The baseball writers, however, want Rose's name on the 1992 ballot. Perry, for cheating, and Jenkins, a drug arrest, posed an ethical problem for some writers the last two years.
In order to gain election, a player must appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and Jenkins just made it.
Rollie Fingers, the all-time saves leader, had some friends at his house and a bottle of champagne on ice. His friends went home unhappy and he had to put the bottle away.
"Probably the one thing that kept me from getting in was that Gaylord Perry and Ferguson Jenkins have been on the ballot the last three years, and with the numbers they put up it's tough to keep those guys out for very long," Fingers said. "I might have to wait a couple of years."