Baseball's Hall of Fame received four new members Tuesday. Mets fans wish there were five.
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Long Island native Craig Biggio received the sport's highest honor, the first time the Baseball Writers' Association of America has elected four players since Joe DiMaggio's class of 1955. The induction ceremony will be July 26.
Johnson (97.3 percent), Martinez (91.1) and Smoltz (82.9) each made it in his debut on the ballot. Biggio (82.7 percent), who grew up in Kings Park, was in his third year of eligibility, a year after falling two votes short. Players need be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast.
Mike Piazza just missed joining them in Cooperstown this summer. The former Mets catcher received 69.9 percent of the 549 ballots cast, so he came up 28 votes short.
The four who made it reacted emotionally, each in his own way.
Biggio, who had 3,060 hits in his 20-year career with the Astros, said he cried and was "an emotional mess'' when he got the call just before 2 p.m.
Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner with the Red Sox and Montreal, also pitched for the Mets from 2005-08. He was known for his take-no-prisoners attitude on the mound, but that was MIA Tuesday. He dedicated this honor to everyone from family and friends to his teammates and everyone he played against.
Johnson, a hard-throwing 6-10 lefthander, won a World Series with Arizona in 2001 and was a Yankee in 2005-06. Nicknamed The Big Unit, he won 303 games and had 4,875 strikeouts, second to Nolan Ryan. Johnson said he was disciplined enough as a player never to allow himself to think about the Hall of Fame.
"Today I'm just kind of celebrating the 22 years that I played,'' Johnson said. He said he has spent his retirement far away from baseball, pursuing a new career in photojournalism, his college major. Presumably, he'll take his camera to Cooperstown.
Smoltz was known for his ultracompetitive nature as he compiled 213 wins and 154 saves, mostly for the Braves. But the pitcher turned broadcaster had trouble accepting that he now is considered one of the all-time elite.
"I'm not comfortable with titles,'' Smoltz said, "but I'm relishing this one.''
Piazza has said he understands that making the Hall of Fame can take years of waiting for some players. The Mets catcher from 1998-2005 has seen his candidacy trend upward since he debuted on the ballot in 2012. His 69.9 percent of the votes was up from 62.2 last year and 57.8 in 2012.
On his verified Twitter account, Piazza wrote: "Sincere Congrats to #HOF2015 class! An Amazing Class! Special Thanks To the Voters!! Very Emotional Thank You to All Fans for the Support.''
In a statement, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said: "We are confident that in the not too distant future, Mike Piazza, the top offensive catcher in the history of baseball, will take his rightful place in the halls of Cooperstown. We look forward to celebrating that day with him, his family, and our fans, when it happens.''
The cloud of performance-enhancing drugs continued to dampen the candidacies of some of baseball's greatest achievers.
Barry Bonds (36.8 percent) is the all-time home run leader and Roger Clemens (37.5 percent) won the most Cy Youngs, but neither has seen much of an uptick in support during his three years on the ballot.
Mark McGwire, who broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998 en route to amassing 583 homers, has admitted using steroids. He received only 10 percent of votes, down from his high of 23.6 percent in 2008. Next year will be his last on the ballot.
Sammy Sosa, who hit 609 home runs, received 6.6 percent of votes, barely above the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot for another year.
"It's actually sad, to be honest,'' Martinez said. "It's sad. I know they're special players.''
Other notables on this year’s ballot included:
Jeff Bagwell (55.7 percent)
Tim Raines (55 percent)
Curt Schilling (39.2 percent)
Lee Smith (30.2 percent)
Edgar Martinez (27 percent)
Alan Trammell (25.1 percent)
Mike Mussina (24.6 percent)
Jeff Kent (14 percent)
Fred McGriff (12.9 percent)
Larry Walker (11.8 percent)
Gary Sheffield (11.7 percent)
Nomar Garciaparra (5.5 percent)
Ex-Met Carlos Delgado (3.8 percent) and 11 others did not receive the five percent of the vote necessary to remain on the ballot for next year. Former Yankees star Don Mattingly received 9.1 percent of the vote in his 15th and final season on the ballot.