Pierson's Chipper Jones first-ballot MLB Hall of Famer

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

PIERSON, Fla. -- Chipper Jones is a first-ballot Major League Hall of Famer!

The Pierson native and 19-year Atlanta Braves player is accompanied by Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome. 

Two former Most Valuable Players, a member of the 600-home run club and a pitcher for whom the National League award for relievers is named were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Wednesday in the 2018 BBWAA balloting, verified by Ernst & Young and announced by Hall president Jeff Idelson on MLB Network.

Third baseman Chipper Jones, outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, infielder Jim Thome and relief pitcher Trevor Hoffmanwill be honored as part of the Hall's Induction Weekend July 27-30 in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, who were elected in December by the Modern Baseball Era Committee, as well as Bob Costas, the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting, and Sheldon Ocker, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for writing.

There were 422 ballots, including one blank, submitted by eligible members of the BBWAA, writers with 10 or more consecutive years of service. Jones, who was on the ballot for the first time, was the leading vote getter with 410, which accounted for 97.2 percent of the vote and ranks 11th all-time in plurality. Players need to appear on 75 percent of ballots cast to earn election to the Hall. The cutoff point this year was 317.

Guerrero, in his second year on the ballot, received 392 votes (92.9 percent), followed by Thome with 379 votes (89.8) and Hoffman with 337 votes (79.9). Like Jones, Thome was also on the ballot for the first time, bringing to 54 the amount of players elected in their first year of eligibility. Hoffman, who missed election in 2017 by a mere five votes, was in his third year of eligibility.

This year marks the fourth time that four players have been elected by the BBWAA in the same year and the second time in the past four ballotings. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected in 2015. The other years were 1947 (Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Mickey Cochrane, Frankie Frisch) and 1955 (Joe DiMaggio, Gabby Hartnett, Ted Lyons, Dazzy Vance). The record total remains the original class of 1936 with five members (Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson).

Falling 20 votes shy of the required total for election was third baseman/designated hitter Edgar Martinez, who in his ninth year of eligibility polled 297 votes (70.4). Players may remain on the ballot for up to 10 years provided they receive five percent of the vote. This year's cutoff was 22 votes. Also named on more than half the ballots were pitchers Mike Mussina (63.5) and Roger Clemens (57.3), outfielder Barry Bonds (56.4) and pitcher Curt Schilling (51.2).

The only other first-year candidates among a group of 19 who received more than five percent of the vote were shortstop Omar Vizquel (37.0), third baseman Scott Rolen (10.2) and outfielder Andruw Jones (7.3). In addition, sufficient support to remain on the ballot was achieved by relief pitcher Billy Wagner, first baseman Fred McGriff, second baseman Jeff Kent and outfielders Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa.

Jones humbled coming from rural fernery community

"It was a pipe dream growing up in a town as small as the one I called home," said Jones,  45, of his roots in the rural central Florida hometown of Pierson, which has a population of less than 2,000, and is known as the fernery capital of the world for the greenery grown there for Valentine's floral arrangements..

Jones was the NL MVP in 1999 and posted a .303 career batting average – featuring a .364 mark in his batting title year of 2008 – with 2,726 hits, including 468 home runs, over 19 seasons, all with the Atlanta Braves.

One of 52 Hall of Famers who spent the entirety of his career with one club, Jones is one of only nine players in history – and the only switch hitter – with at least a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, .500 slugging average and 400 home runs, along with Ruth, Ramirez, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Stan Musial, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

Jones, an eight-time All-Star, is also the only player who appeared in at least 50 percent of his games at third base to record at least 1,600 runs batted in and score at least 1,600 runs.

Guerrero, who turns 43 next month and becomes the youngest current Hall of Famer, was the MVP in the American League in 2004, his first season with the then Anaheim Angels, when he batted .337 with 39 home runs and 126 runs batted in, plus league-leading totals in runs (124) and total bases (366).

The Dominican Republic native also played for the Montreal Expos, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles in a 16-season career in which he compiled a .318 batting average and .553 slugging percentage, one of only nine players in history to do so. The others were Foxx, Gehrig, Musial, Ruth, Williams, DiMaggio, Rogers Hornsby and still-active Miguel Cabrera.

Guerrero was an eight-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award, seven times as a right fielder and once as a designated hitter, in 2010, when he won the Edgar Martinez Award as the league’s top DH. The nine-time All-Star batted .300 in 13 seasons, including 12 years in a row, had four 200-plus hit seasons, drove in 100 or more runs 10 times and scored 100 or more runs six times.

Thome, 47, finished his 22-season career with 612 home runs, the eighth-highest total in history, and one RBI shy of 1,700 while batting .276 and compiling a .956 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OBP). He is one of only five players in big league history with at least 500 homers, 1,500 runs, 1,600 RBI and 1,700 walks, along with Bonds, Ott, Ruth and Williams. The corner infielder spent 13 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Orioles.

The 601 career saves and 856 games finished for Hoffman, 50, are second only to Mariano Rivera’s respective totals of 652 and 952. Major League Baseball established relief pitcher awards in honor of Hoffman (NL) and Rivera (AL) in 2015.

Hoffman was named the NL Fireman of the Year by the Sporting News in 1996 and 1998 and won the NL Rolaids Relief Awards in 1998 and 2006. Hoffman, whose career spanned 18 seasons with the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers, finished in the top 10 of NL Cy Young Award voting four times and was the runner-up twice, in 1998 and 2006. The seven-time All-Star had 30 or more saves in 14 of 15 seasons from 1995 through 2009 and converted 41 consecutive save opportunities, a record since surpassed.

The BBWAA has elected 16 players to the Hall over the past five years, the largest total over a five-year span, breaking the previous mark of 13 from 1952-56. The Hall of Fame now has 323 elected members, including 226 players, of which 128 have come through the BBWAA ballot. The average ballot in the 2018 election contained 8.46 names with 50 percent of the voters using all 10 slots.

The Vote:
Chipper Jones 410 (97.2), Vladimir Guerrero 392 (92.9), Jim Thome 379 (89.8), Trevor Hoffman 337 (79.9), Edgar Martinez 297 (70.4), Mike Mussina 268 (63.5), Roger Clemens 242 (57.3), Barry Bonds 238 (56.4), Curt Schilling 216 (51.2), Omar Vizquel 156 (37.0), Larry Walker 144 (34.1), Fred McGriff 98 (23.2), Manny Ramirez 93 (22.0), Jeff Kent 61 (14.5), Gary Sheffield 47 (11.1), Billy Wagner 47 (11.1), Scott Rolen 43 (10.2), Sammy Sosa 33 (7.8), Andruw Jones 31 (7.3), Jamie Moyer 10 (2.4), Johan Santana 10 (2.4), Johnny Damon 8 (1.9), Hideki Matsui 4 (0.9), Chris Carpenter 2 (0.5), Kerry Wood 2 (0.5), Livan Hernandez 1 (0.2), Carlos Lee 1 (0.2), Orlando Hudson 0, Aubrey Huff 0, Jason Isringhausen 0, Brad Lidge 0, Kevin Millwood 0, Carlos Zambrano 0.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.