NY Yankee legend makes Hall of Fame history

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Former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has become the first player ever to be unanimously voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (AFP Photo/NICHOLAS KAMM)
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  • Mariano Rivera
    Mariano Rivera
    Panamanian Hall of Fame baseball player, relief pitcher
  • Roy Halladay
    Roy Halladay
    American Hall of Fame baseball player (1977-2017)

New York (AFP) - Legendary former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera made history on Tuesday by becoming the first player to be unanimously voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Writers Association of America gave Rivera a blanket thumbs up with 425 votes, elevating the 49-year-old Panamanian with three other players.

"Amazing, amazing," Rivera told MLB Network television shortly after his election. "It was a beautiful, long career with what is, for me, the best organization in baseball, the Yankees. To end up like this is amazing."

Rivera was voted in alongside Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina.

Two other players, Harold Baines and Lee Smith, had already been added to the class of inductees who will be formally ushered into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Cooperstown, New York on July 21.

Halladay was named as a first ballot entrant just over a year after his death in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico in 2017.

Rivera and Halladay are the 55th and 56th players to be voted into the Hall of Fame on their first ballot.

Rivera's 425 votes were unprecedented in the history of Hall of Fame voting. Only one player, Ken Griffey Jr, has come close to unanimous entry to the Hall of Fame, polling 427 out of 440 ballots in 2016.

Rivera, affectionately known as "Mo", played for the Yankees for 17 seasons between 1995 and 2013, winning five World Series and earning 13 All-Star selections.

He is widely regarded as one of the greatest closers in baseball history.

Rivera was also the last Major League Baseball players to wear a shirt bearing the number 42, the same number as Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball.

The league retired Hall-of-Famer Robinson's No.42 in 1997, just as Rivera was establishing himself with the Yankees.

"One thing I always remember is wearing No. 42, representing Mr. Jackie Robinson, who, I assume, was the first No. 42 elected," Rivera said Tuesday.

"And me, being the last player to wear No. 42 and be elected to the Hall of Fame unanimously is amazing. All I can say is, thank God for that."

While Rivera celebrated, both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were once again left on the fringes of contention, despite recent calls for their induction.

Bonds and Clemens, heavily implicated in baseball's steroid era despite neither ever failing a drug test, both finished well short of the required 75 percent threshold of votes to earn induction.

Clemens was named on 59.5 percent of ballots while Bonds was picked on 59.1 percent. Once a player has been on the BBWA ballot for 10 years, they are no longer eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Both Bonds and Clemens have been on the ballot for seven years, meaning they have three more years to make the cut.

Bonds won seven Most Valuable Player awards during a career which saw him top the home run charts with 762. Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, more than any pitcher in history.