DENVER -- No one has ever played better first base for the Rockies Todd Helton. Now, he's creeping toward becoming the franchise's second Hall of Famer.
One year after Larry Walker earned entrance to Cooperstown on his last year on the ballot, Helton gained ground in his third year. He received 44.6 percent of the vote, a spike from 29.2 percent last year and 16.4 percent in his first time eligible. No player was elected for the first time since 2013. This is the ninth time no one was chosen since voting began in 1936. My ballot is included in this story.
The Hall of Fame is a breathtaking honor. Only 132 players have been elected, one half of 1 percent who have played. Helton is firmly in the mix now with seven years remaining on the ballot.
The Rockies star finished his career, all 17 seasons spent in Colorado, with a .316 average, .414 on-base percentage, 369 home runs, 592 doubles and 1.406 RBIs. He placed fifth in the 2000 MVP voting. He was a five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner.
Pitcher Curt Schilling, who has been embroiled in controversy for his tweets regarding politics, journalists, and racial issues, missed Cooperstown by 16 votes.
According to USA Today, Schilling penned a letter to the Hall of Fame, asking to be removed from the 2022 ballot.
"I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player,'' he wrote.
Barry Bonds inched up from 60.7 percent to 61.8 percent. He has one year left on the ballot. Roger Clemens, also with one year remaining, received 61.6 percent. Both rank among the greatest players ever, but have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs through a lengthy book in Bonds' case (Game of Shadows) and a federal trial in the case of Clemens.
Third baseman Scott Rolen jumped 17 percent, the biggest of all returning players, reaching 52.9.
The Hall of Fame is planning -- COVID-19 willing -- an induction ceremony in upstate New York on July 25 that will feature Walker and New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.