NEW YORK, JAN. 8 -- Seven-time American League batting champion Rod Carew tonight became the 22nd player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He was joined by pitchers Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry, who barely won enshrinement in Cooperstown on their third attempts.
Pitcher Rollie Fingers, in his first year of eligibility, had been widely expected to gain admission, but didn't make it. And pitcher Jim Bunning failed in his 15th and final opportunity to win election.
In order to gain entry, a player must appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. A total of 443 members cast ballots this year, meaning 333 votes were needed for election. Carew had 401 votes (90.5 percent), Jenkins 334 votes (75.3 percent) and Perry 342 (77.2 percent).
Fingers, the all-time saves leader with 341, received 291 votes (65.6 percent) and Bunning got 282 (63.6 percent).
The last year three players were voted in was 1984, when Luis Aparicio, Don Drysdale and Harmon Killebrew were elected. It is only the third time in the 55 years of voting that three or more players have made it in the same year.
Carew finished with a career .328 average and 3,053 hits. In 1969, he tied a major league record by stealing home seven times and, on May 18 of that year, he stole three bases in one inning.
He hit .300 or better for 15 straight seasons, highlighted by a .388 average and an MVP Award in 1977. Only fellow Hall of Famers Ty Cobb, Stan Musial and Honus Wagner had more consecutive .300-plus seasons than Carew.
"I felt after I got my 3,000th hit that might help me out a bit," Carew said in Los Angeles. "I didn't think I would get in on the first ballot. . . . After playing 19 years and not being in the World Series -- I thought that would be a kick. But this is a big kick."
While Jenkins and Perry had Hall of Fame numbers when they retired in 1983, both presented ethical problems for some voters. Jenkins had to overcome a link to drugs and Perry use of the spitball.
Jenkins, 284-226 with 3,192 strikeouts, was a 20-game winner for six consecutive seasons (1967-72) with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs traded him to Texas after the 1973 season.
A brush with the law may have cost him votes the past two years. He was convicted of cocaine possession in 1980, four months after the substance was discovered in his baggage as the Rangers went through customs at Toronto's airport.
Perry was 314-265 in 22 seasons -- with 3,534 strikeouts -- and is the only pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in each league. Last year, Perry received 320 of the needed 333 votes and Jenkins garnered 296 votes.
"I thought about my many teammates and those I played against," Perry said. "I thought about my three teammates with the San Francisco Giants who are already in the Hall of Fame -- Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal -- and the greats I played against -- the Gibsons, Drysdales and the Koufaxes. I thought about how great they were, and now I get the opportunity to share what they have."