FLUSHING, NY - SUNDAY, JULY 13, 2008: Mets David Wright...

FLUSHING, NY - SUNDAY, JULY 13, 2008: Mets David Wright and Billy Wagner were presented their All Star uniform shirts before the game. New York Mets vs. the Colorado Rockies at Shea Stadium. Newsday Photo / Kathy Kmonicek Credit: Newsday /Kathy Kmonicek

As a closer, Billy Wagner had to wait by the phone to get the call to come into a game.

As a candidate for the Hall of Fame, Wagner in the past probably has waited by the phone to see if he got in.

This time — in the former Mets reliever’s ninth and next-to-last chance on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot — he says he’s not going to be waiting for the call from the Hall (if it comes at all for him on Tuesday evening when the results are announced).

Wagner told the Houston Chronicle that he will be at the Miller School of Albemarle in Virginia, where he coaches the baseball team.

Hall of Fame Vote Tracker

Public ballots: 188

Anonymous/unverifiable: 12

Percentage of ballots: 52.1*

Top 10 Vote-Getters

Player           Vote %

Adrian Beltre 99.0

Joe Mauer     83.5

Todd Helton   82.0

Billy Wagner  78.0

Gary Sheffield 75.0

Andruw Jones 70.5

Carlos Beltran 66.0

Chase Utley    40.0

Alex Rodriguez 39.0

Manny Ramirez 35.0

*As of 8 p.m. Monday

“I think it’ll be a nail-biter at best,” said Wagner, who has been named on 78.0% of the publicly released ballots as of Monday evening, with at least 75% needed for induction to Cooperstown. “I had the Hall of Fame call and kind of give me the run-through. They wanted me to stay by the phone and to do some stuff, and I said, ‘No, I’m not doing that.’ . . . If they call me, I’ll be on the baseball field at Miller working with kids, and we’ll just go from there.”

Wagner’s vote totals have grown from 10.5% in his first year of eligibility to 68.1% last year. Vote percentages tend to go down from what’s publicly revealed once all the ballots are counted. The folks who run the indispensable Baseball Hall of Fame tracker — at NotMrTibbs on X (formerly known as Twitter) — estimate that only 50.5% of all the expected ballots had been publicly released as of Monday evening.

“Let’s be honest, I think there’s a much bigger chance that it could happen, but it’s also one of those things that I don’t want to sit here and overthink,” Wagner, who had 422 saves, told the Chronicle. “I’d rather just kind of clear my mind and do something for somebody else rather than sitting here just thinking about it all day.”

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The call is sure to come for four-time All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre, who has been named on 99.0% of the ballots publicly released to date in his first year of eligibility. Beltre ended his 21-year career with 3,166 hits, 477 home runs and five Gold Glove awards.

Former Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, trending at 83.5% in his first year on the ballot, and Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, trending at 82.0% in his sixth year, are possibilities to get the call if their vote percentages don’t dip too much by Tuesday at 6 p.m. That’s when the results will be announced live on MLB Network to see who joins former manager Jim Leyland in the Hall’s Class of 2024. Leyland was elected in December by the contemporary baseball era committee.

Former Mets and Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield is right on the cusp in his 10th and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot, currently sitting at 75.0%.

Sheffield, who hit 509 home runs and was a nine-time All-Star, was ensnared in the BALCO performance-enhancing drug scandal, the same one that has kept MLB home run king Barry Bonds out of the Hall.

Other players with local team ties who likely will fall short this year include former Mets and Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is at 66.0% in his second year on the ballot. Beltran was named on 46.5% last year, with some writers withholding their votes because of his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, which cost Beltran his job as Mets manager before he managed a game in 2020.

Former Yankee Andruw Jones sits at 70.5% in his seventh year of eligibility. The chances of former Yankees lightning rod Alex Rodriguez (39.0%, third year) and former Yankees starter Andy Pettitte (15.0%, sixth year) have been harmed by their association with PEDs.

Three former Mets stars are on the ballot for the first time, but two are in danger of falling off the ballot if they don’t get at least 5% in the final tally. David Wright is at 6.5%, but it isn’t looking good for Bartolo Colon (one vote) and Jose Reyes (no votes) to stay on the ballot.

Wright, in an appearance on MLB Network on Monday, said: “What an honor just being on the ballot . . . As a kid growing up, playing baseball with my dad and my grandfather in my backyard, even having this conversation is almost a pinch-me moment. Whether it happens or whether it doesn’t, I really appreciate the consideration.”

n  HOFer Sandberg has cancer

Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg has been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.

Sandberg, 64, said Monday in a release put out by the Baseball Hall of Fame that he has started treatment.

Sandberg hit .285 with 282 homers, 1,061 RBIs and 344 steals in 16 seasons in the majors. He made his big-league debut with Philadelphia in 1981 and appeared in 13 games with the Phillies before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in January 1982.

Sandberg turned into one of the majors’ best all-around performers with the Cubs. He made 10 All-Star teams and won nine Gold Gloves. He also was the NL MVP in 1984.

Sandberg was inducted into Cooperstown in his third year of eligibility in 2005. — AP

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