Who waited the longest before induction?

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum welcomed no new members on Wednesday, meaning the total number of players elected to the Hall in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America remains at 112.

Houston Astros icon Craig Biggio was this year’s leading vote-getter, appearing on 68.2 percent of the ballots and falling 39 votes short of election. It seems inevitable Biggio will make it in the years to come. He has 14 more years of eligibility. However, the news isn’t as promising for former Atlanta Braves great Dale Murphy, who missed induction to the Hall of Fame on his 15th, and final, year of eligibility on the ballot. Murphy was named on 18.6 percent of this year’s ballots. He needed to garner 427 votes; he received 106. This was the 14th year on the ballot for Jack Morris, who appeared on 67.7 percent of the ballots, and is now down to his final year of eligibility.

In the infographic below, you’ll see the players at each position who remained on the BBWAA ballot the longest before earning enough votes to be elected. This includes the top three outfielders regardless of specific outfield position (LF, CF, RF), since many outfielders played more than one outfield spot. Many other players eventually gained election via the Veteran’s Committee or other special committees, most recently Ron Santo in 2012 and Joe Gordon in 2009. Such cases are not represented in our data set.

Former Brooklyn Dodgers starting pitcher Dazzy Vance gained election to the Hall of Fame on his 16th ballot, the most ballots ever needed for election. Barring a change in the rules, it’s a record that will never be broken. Since the rules were modified in 1962, players are no longer eligible to be elected 20 years after their retirement, and a five-year waiting period was mandated in 1954. In other words, Vance got in on his 16th try in 1955, but he would have remained eligible for another six ballots under the old rules.

Of the 112 players voted in by the BBWAA, 107 were elected by normal balloting. Three others were inducted by the BBWAA in runoff elections: Red Ruffing in 1967, Luke Appling in 1964 and Charlie Gehringer in 1949. Two others -- Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente -- are represented in the above infographic as gaining election in their first year of eligibility. Gehrig was enshrined the year he retired (1939) before his death from ALS in 1941, while Clemente was voted in soon after his tragic death in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972.

As you can see from the bottom portion of the above infographic, 41 percent (46 of 112) of players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA made it on the first ballot.

The 46 first-ballot Hall of Famers:

Starting pitchers (10): Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn, Bob Gibson, Jim Palmer, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan

Relief pitcher (1): Dennis Eckersley

Catcher (1): Johnny Bench

First basemen (4): Lou Gehrig, Willie McCovey, Rod Carew, Eddie Murray

Second basemen (2): Jackie Robinson, Joe Morgan

Third basemen (5): Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs

Shortstops (5): Honus Wagner, Ernie Banks, Robin Yount, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr.

Outfielders (18): Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Al Kaline, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Lou Brock, Willie Stargell, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson

*All of the positions noted above are the positions by which the Hall of Fame website lists them.


*It took Joe DiMaggio four ballots to gain enshrinement. Yes, Joe DiMaggio.

*Only 12 of the 112 players elected to the Hall of Fame needed more than 10 ballots.

*Of the seven third basemen elected to the Hall by the BBWAA, only two (Pie Traynor and Eddie Matthews) needed more than one ballot.

*Just five relief pitchers (Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rich Gossage, Bruce Sutter) have been voted in by the BBWAA.