Fifteen new players on ballot

NEW YORK -- Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor headline the
15 newcomers on baseball's Hall of Fame ballot.

Former MVPs Kevin Mitchell and Terry Pendleton, Cy Young winner
Doug Drabek and World Series star Joe Carter also are on the
ballot, released Saturday by the Baseball Writers' Association of

Bruce Sutter, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith
and Rich Gossage are the leading returning candidates.

Sutter came the closest to making the Hall out of that group in
last year's voting, appearing on 53.6 percent of the ballots. Gary
Carter and Eddie Murray were the only players elected in 2003.

Rice (52.2 percent) and Dawson (50 percent) were the only other
players to be chosen on at least half the ballots.

To be elected, a player must appear on at least 75 percent of
the ballots, which are cast by BBWAA members who have been a part
of the organization for 10 or more years.

Eckersley won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards in 1992 for Oakland
with one of the greatest seasons ever by a reliever, going 7-1 with
51 saves and a 1.91 ERA. Eckersley began his career as a starter
and finished with 197 victories and 390 saves.

Molitor had 3,319 career hits, the eighth most in history. He
batted .306 with 1,782 runs and 1,307 RBIs in 21 seasons. Molitor
also was the MVP of the 1993 World Series for Toronto. The Blue
Jays won that Series on Carter's game-winning three-run homer in
Game 6 against Philadelphia.

Voting ends Dec. 31, and the results will be announced Jan. 6.