Move over Ty, Willie, Babe and Hank. Johnny and Yaz have reached your lofty level, too.
The election of Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski to the Hall of Fame Monday night was no surprise. The number of votes they got was. Bench received 431 votes from 447 ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Yastrzemski got 423 votes.The size of their mandate put Bench and Yastrzemski in the upper echelon of baseball's superstars.
In order to be elected to the Hall of Fame, a player must be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast. Of the record 447 ballots this year, a player needed 336 votes to be elected. Bench got 96.4 percent and Yastrzemski 94.63. Only Ty Cobb, 98.2 percent (222 of 226), and Hank Aaron, 97.8 (406 of 415), received higher percentages than Bench. Yastrzemski's percentage was the seventh-highest ever after Honus Wagner (95.13), Babe Ruth (95.13) and Willie Mays (94.67).
Bench and Yastrzemski also set a record for number of votes received. Mays had the previous mark for most votes, with 409 in 1979.
"There's a finality to it all, to reach a level so few people reach," Bench said after learning of his election. "I didn't think of percentage. . . . I was just concerned with getting 75 percent. It's pretty elite company to be mentioned with Cobb and Aaron.
"Mickey Mantle was my first idol, but I played with a lot of special people - Clemente, Stargell and my teammates with the Reds - Rose, Morgan, Perez, Concepcion," Bench said.
Only one other player in this year's balloting received as many as 300 votes. Gaylord Perry, winner of 314 games, finished third with 304 and missed election by 32 votes. Jim Bunning, who missed election by four votes last year, was 53 shy this time with 283. Ferguson Jenkins was fifth with 234 votes.
"It's a thrill. It's the culmination of many years of hard work. It's something, as a player, you don't think about," Yastrzemski said of his election.
The election of Bench and Yastrzemski marks only the third time since 1936 that two players have been elected in their first year of eligibility. In 1962, Jackie Robinson and Bob Feller were chosen and in 1982, Aaron and Frank Robinson made it in.