Former Twins Jacque Jones, Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones are on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, and perhaps the last, in 2014, the museum announced Tuesday. But it's the ex-Twin making his 15th and definitely final appearance on the ballot who figures to generate the most debate until the results are announced Jan. 8.
Jack Morris, who fell 42 votes short a year ago of the 75 percent required to be enshrined, is one of 17 candidates being carried over from last year's balloting, but he's the only one whose eligibility expires with this round of voting. The St. Paul native, a 254-game winner in an 18-year career that included one memorable championship season in Minnesota, will either be elected this time or be forced to wait at least five more years before a committee on long-retired players can consider him.
Morris' chances, not to mention those of the fringe first-timers, are made much more difficult by what might be the most crowded ballot in the Hall election's 78-year history. Newly eligible on this ballot are two-time MVP Frank Thomas, four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux, two-time winner Tom Glavine and 270-game winner Mike Mussina.
No player was elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America last year, though Craig Biggio (68.2 percent), Morris (67.7), Jeff Bagwell (59.6) and Mike Piazza (57.8) came closest, with Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Curt Schilling farther back. In addition, players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, stars whose achievements are tainted by their connection, admitted or otherwise, to steroid usage, remain on the ballot.
BBWAA members of more than 10 years are eligible to vote, but are limited to 10 choices, with 75 percent required for induction. Morris, whose 10-inning shutout of Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series remains one of the most celebrated pitching performances of all time, has steadily risen in Hall of Fame Voting during his first 14 seasons of eligibility, from a low of 19.6 percent in 2001.
Rogers and Todd Jones wore Twins uniforms in only one season of their long careers, but Jacque Jones was a Twin for seven of his 10 major-league seasons, batting .279 with 132 home runs. The trio of ex-Twins are considered unlikely to receive 5 percent of the vote, the minimum to remain on next year's ballot.
• Balloting is underway for the Twins Hall of Fame, too, and fans can take part in the vote. Online voting at twinsbaseball.com/hof through Jan. 6 will determine the fans' vote as part of the 62-member committee choosing from 17 nominees. The winner will be announced at TwinsFest in January.