Scott Rolen’s Hall of Fame path, which he embarked upon in the most modest of fashions in 2018, culminated with the third baseman walking into immortality Tuesday night.
Rolen became the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday night, when he received 76.3 percent of the vote in results announced by Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch at the plaque gallery inside the museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Rolen hit .281 with 316 homers and eight Gold Gloves while making seven All-Star teams and playing for four clubs from 1996 through 2012.
“There was actually never a point in my life that I thought I was going to be a Hall of Fame baseball player,” Rolen said with a laugh during a Zoom call Tuesday night. “Never did I think I was going to get drafted. Never think (he’d) play in the big leagues. Never going to be whatever.”
Rolen will officially be inducted at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown on July 23 along with Fred McGriff, who was elected unanimously by the 16-member Contemporary Baseball Players Committee on Dec. 4.
Rolen was named on 297 of the 389 ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America — just five more than required to reach the 75 percent necessary for enshrinement.
The 47-year-old native of Indiana made it into the Hall of Fame on his sixth year on the ballot — and after receiving just 10.2 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2018. It’s the smallest first-year share for an eventual Hall of Famer via the writers’ ballot. Duke Snider received 17 percent of the vote in 1970 before being elected in 1980.
Rolen laughed again while recalling the results of the 2018 cycle and a conversation in which he told his son, Finn, that he just wanted to get the five percent necessary to remain on the ballot.
“He says to me, ‘Did we win?'” Rolen said. “I said ‘Oh, we won. We won.'”
Rolen is the 18th third baseman elected to the Hall of Fame. While he won the 1997 National League Rookie of the Year award with the Philadelphia Phillies and played 844 games for the club, he made four All-Star Games and won the World Series in 2006 with the St. Louis Cardinals, for whom Rolen played 661 games.
Rolen said on MLB Network he wasn’t sure which hat he would sport on his plaque.
“I think the best answer to that is I’m in a very good spot of not having an idea what that situation looks like,” Rolen said.
Phillies principal owner John Middleton issued a statement congratulating Rolen moments after his induction was announced.
“On behalf of the Phillies, I want to congratulate Scott Rolen on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a player,” Middleton said. “He richly deserves this award.”
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. also congratulated Rolen on what he called a “well-deserved honor.”
“Scott was a cornerstone of our infield and lineup during his six seasons in St. Louis, and helped create many fond memories as part of the great Cardinals teams of the mid-2000s,” DeWitt said in a statement.
Rolen also played for the Toronto Blue Jays before finishing his career with three-plus seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.
Longtime slugging first baseman Todd Helton and closer Billy Wagner came close to enshrinement in their fifth and eighth years on the ballot, respectively. Helton was named on 72.2 percent of the ballots, falling just 11 votes shy of the 292-vote minimum. Wagner earned 68.1 percent of the vote.
Jeff Kent received 46.5 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year on the ballot.
The only first-timers — players who retired following the 2017 season — to receive the five percent of the vote necessary to remain on the ballot were outfielder Carlos Beltran (46.5 percent) and closer Francisco Rodriguez (10.8 percent).
–Field Level Media