On January 9th, 2007, results were announced for 2007’s Baseball Hall of Fame balloting. A record 545 ballots, including two blank ballots, were cast by Baseball Writers Association of America members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service, eclipsing by 25 the previous mark of 2006 when Bruce Sutter was elected. Players must be named on 75 percent of ballots submitted to gain election. This year, 409 votes were needed.

Voters were instructed to cast votes for up to 10 candidates; any candidate who received votes on at least 75% of the ballots would be honored with induction to the Hall. Those candidates who received less than 5% of the vote will not appear on future BBWAA ballots, but may eventually be considered by the Veterans Committee. The ballot consisted of 32 players, 17 of which were eligible for the first time.

For the first time in history, performance-enhancing substances became a factor in voting. Two former MVP winners who each admitted to steroid use, Jose Canseco and the late Ken Caminiti, were both among newly eligible candidates. Even more importantly, Mark McGuire appeared on the ballot for the first time. McGuire was once considered a certain first-ballot selection following his record setting 1998 season, when he finished with 70 home runs, and his career total of 583 home runs. More recently his candidacy was questioned as baseball observers considered both his admitted use of legal dietary supplements and the suspicions that he had also used steroids.

After all the ballots were totalled, the only two players I would have voted on (had I been eligible to vote, everybody should know that I am not), Cal Ripken Jr. & Tony Gwynn, were the two players who received the necessary 75% of the vote to gain election into the Hall of Fame. They will be inducted on July 29, 2007 in Cooperstown, NY during the induction ceremonies with Commissioner Bud Selig presiding.

Cal Ripken Jr. is best known as baseball’s “Iron Man”, playing in a record 2,632 consecutive games, spanning 16 seasons, from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998. He played his 2,131st straight game on September 6, 1995, against the California Angels, breaking the 56-year-old record set by the “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig, the legendary New York Yankees first baseman who ended his playing streak after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Along with the record, Ripken’s accomplishments included 1982 American League Rookie of the Year, 1983 & 1991 American League Most Valuable Player Awards, 8 American League Silver Slugger Awards, 2 American League Golden Glove Awards, 19 consecutive All Star Game appearances, and 2 All-Star Game MVP Awards.

Tony Gwynn played his entire 20 year career for the San Diego Padres and is widely considered one of the best hitters in baseball history. Despite playing much of his career in right field, which is known as a power position, during an era when home runs were at an all-time high, he was not a home run threat, never hitting more than 17 in any season in his major league career. Instead, Gwynn made a name for himself by being one of the most consistent hitters for contact in the game’s history. He struck out only 434 times in his 9,288 career at-bats, and his batting average was never below .309 in any full season.