© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

01/04/05 2:13 PM ET

Sutter closing in on Hall of Fame

Closer finishes third in voting, 43 votes shy of induction

The Call did not come -- again -- for Bruce Sutter. But the former Cubs, Cardinals and Braves reliever can take solace in one fact: no one has ever come as close to Hall of Fame election as Sutter came this year without eventually being inducted.

Sutter received 344 votes out of a possible 516 (66.7 percent), falling short of the needed 75 percent to become a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg were elected, while Sutter was the top vote-getter among those who will not be enshrined this year. In the history of the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Hall of Fame voting, no candidate has received such a high percentage without later becoming a Hall of Famer.

This was Sutter's 12th year on the ballot, meaning he has three more chances before he would have to rely on the Veterans Committee. It was his highest percentage of the vote: last year he was named on 59.5 percent of ballots, just behind Sandberg.

"It's for the special few people to get into the Hall of Fame," Sutter said in a recent interview with MLB.com. "It shouldn't be easy to get in."

And it hasn't been, though Sutter's share of the vote has increased every year he's been on the ballot.

  2005 Hall of Fame
  voting results
The complete vote (516 ballots, 387 to gain election, 26 to remain on ballot):
 Player  Votes   %
 Wade Boggs  474  91.9%
 Ryne Sandberg  393  76.2%
 Bruce Sutter  344  66.7%
 Jim Rice  307  59.5%
 "Goose" Gossage  285  55.2%
 Andre Dawson  270  52.3%
 Bert Blyleven  211  40.9%
 Lee Smith  200  38.8%
 Jack Morris  172  33.3%
 Tommy John  123  23.8%
 Steve Garvey  106  20.5%
 Alan Trammell   87  16.9%
 Dave Parker   65  12.6%
 Don Mattingly   59  11.4%
 Dave Concepcion   55  10.7%
 Dale Murphy   54  10.5%
 Willie McGee   26   5.0%
 Jim Abbott   13   2.5%
 Darryl Strawberry    6   1.2%
 Jack McDowell    4   0.8%
 Chili Davis    3   0.6%
 Tom Candiotti    2   0.4%
 Jeff Montgomery    2   0.4%
 Tony Phillips    1   0.2%
 Terry Steinbach    1   0.2%
 Mark Langston    0   0.0%
 Otis Nixon    0   0.0%
  Sights and sounds:

Boggs photo gallery
• Boggs highlights: 56K | 350K
Boggs conference call
Sandberg photo gallery
• Sandberg highlights: 56K | 350K
Sandberg conference call
• Official announcement: 56K | 350K
HOF president Dale Petroskey
  announces Class of 2005

Sutter made his Major League debut with the Cubs in 1976, and in '77 he turned in one of the greatest relief seasons in history: 107 1/3 innings, 31 saves, a 1.34 ERA, 129 strikeouts, 69 hits and five homers allowed. He earned All-Star berths as a Cub from '77 to '80, and a Cy Young Award in 1979, before being shipped to St. Louis after the 1980 season.

In four seasons in St. Louis, Sutter garnered two more All-Star nods, racked up 127 saves and finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting three times. After the 1984 season, Sutter departed as a free agent for Atlanta, but injuries limited him to 112 games and 40 saves over four years with the Braves. He pitched his last game before his 36th birthday.

Sutter, along with Goose Gossage, came along at a turning point in the history of the relief pitcher. You could make the case that the two intimidating right-handers caused that turn, that they heralded the beginning of the modern closer role.

But Sutter wasn't like today's closers. He pitched more than an inning at a time, and more than 60-70 innings in a season. Sutter topped 100 innings five times, with one more year at 99. From 1976-85, he averaged just less than 98 innings per season, all in relief, and tallied 283 of his 300 saves.

He hopes to become the fourth relief pitcher in the Hall, joining Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley.

As he waits, Sutter remains philosophical.

"It's just an honor to be on the ballot, but it's not something I think that much about," he said. "I have no control over it."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.