Hall of Famer Joe Torre knows he’s going to be in Cooperstown in July to welcome Mariano Rivera into baseball’s club of immortals. The year after that, Torre plans to watch Derek Jeter headline the Hall’s Class of 2020.
What Torre doesn’t know is if another of his former players, steady lefthander Andy Pettitte, will join the other Yankees in Cooperstown someday.
Rivera is a first-timer on this year’s Hall ballot. So is Pettitte. But while Rivera is a lock to get in and even has people wondering if he (or Jeter next year) will be the first player to get 100 percent of the votes, Pettitte is hardly getting mentioned.
“I don’t think Andy’s going to get as much attention as he deserves,” Torre said on Thursday night at his 16th annual Safe at Home dinner in lower Manhattan. “I’d like to see him get attention.”
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Pettitte is a borderline Hall candidate based on his stats. In 18 seasons with the Yankees and Astros, he went 256-153 with a 3.85 ERA.
Pettitte won five World Series rings in 15 seasons with the Yankees. He was 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA in 44 postseason starts and owns the record for postseason victories by a pitcher. He was the 2001 ALCS MVP, made three All-Star teams and finished in the top six in Cy Young Award voting five times, including a second-place showing in 1996, when he won 21 games for the Yankees.
“Somebody asked me the other day about who would you [pitch] if you had one game to win,” Torre said. “I said I would take Pettitte or Coney [David Cone] for that one game, for what they represent. They will themselves to do things.”
But Pettitte’s candidacy will be hurt by his admission in 2007 that he used HGH in 2002. Pettitte was named in the Mitchell Report in 2007, and he immediately apologized for what he said was “an error in judgment” in using HGH in an attempt to come back from an elbow injury.
Hall of Fame voters have not been kind to players with proven ties to performance-enhancing drugs. Some players have had a difficult time getting the 75 percent of the vote needed for enshrinement even if their only link to PEDs was through the rumor mill. So Pettitte could be seen as a test case for a player who admitted to a dalliance with PEDs but was otherwise thought of as a good person and a clutch pitcher.
As for Rivera, there is no debate. He will headline the Class of 2019 in Cooperstown and could be joined by former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez, his old nemesis, who might pick up enough votes in his final year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot to make it. Martinez was named on 70.4 percent of the ballots last year.
Rivera, baseball’s all-times saves leader with 652, has shied away from Hall talk in recent public appearances. Ballots will be cast in December and results will be announced in January.
“I think until it’s verified, I can understand that,” Torre said. “I think it’s more of a respect for the game. He doesn’t want to think it’s a slam-dunk, even though it is.”