at  a 1:30 PM news conference, outfielders Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were elected to the Hall of Fame.  They will join former Yankee and Cleveland Indian Joe Gordon, who was voted in by the Veteran’s Committee, at the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction on July 26.

Its fitting that these two were elected together.  Henderson stole the vote, much the same way he stole a season-record 130 bases in 1982 and holds the career record in steals.  Henderson appeared on 94.8% of the ballots submitted, becoming the 44th player inducted into the Hall on his first try.

Rice, on the other hand, just squeaked by.  In his last year of eligibility, Rice was elected with 412 votes, just 7 over the threshold of 405, which marked the 75% necessary to gain election.  Rice spent a 16 year career with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .298 with 2,452 hits.  He was a 2 time MVP.

Andre Dawson, Bret Blyleven and Tommy John were all on the ballot  for the 12th and last time each.  Now each gentleman has to hope to gain election via the Veteran’s Committee.   The committee next meets in 2010 to consider players whose careers began after 1943.

Former Yankees Don Mattingly and David Cone failed to gain election.  Mattingly appeared on 64 ballots for a total 11.9%.  Mattingly received 15.8% last year and has lost votes each year.  His induction is looking less and less likely.  Cone received just 21 votes for 3.9% and will not be eligible to return to the ballot next year.  A player must receive at least 5% of the vote to be included on future ballots.

Congrats to Henderson and Rice.