Santo gets into Hall; Kaat, Oliva left out

Jim Kaat finished second and Tony Oliva fourth in voting by the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee.

DALLAS - Third baseman Ron Santo on Monday was elected to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Those left out included former Twins Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat.

Many observers believed that Santo had been snubbed for several years, but he was picked on 15 of 16 ballots by a committee designed to evaluate players from the "Golden Era" of the sport (1947-72). Santo, who died a year ago, batted .277 with 2,254 hits in 2,243 games and drove in 1,331 runs over 15 seasons.

Kaat finished second with 10 votes, while Oliva finished fourth with eight votes. Twelve votes were needed for election.

A change in the procedure, in which candidates were voted on by a committee that included more of their contemporaries, appears to have helped Santo's bid. Cubs teammate Billy Williams, for example, was on the committee.

"I'm happy for [Santo] and yet I'm kind of sick,'' said Kaat, currently a MLB Network analyst. "If this process was in place years ago, when guys from your era judge you, he would have gotten in long ago and would have gotten in while he was still alive."

Kaat, in a recent interview, doubted his chances of being elected to the Hall, but Monday's results could be viewed as encouraging. However, because the Veterans Committee rotates through three groups every year, Kaat won't be up for induction again until 2014.

"Well, I was quite honored by the support I got,'' Kaat said. "I knew that by the committee this year I was going to get the fairest hearing I've ever had because they were all baseball people who were involved during my playing career. It's a tough fraternity to get into. It's too bad I wasn't running for president. I would have only needed 51 percent.

"If the worst thing that happened in my life was that I missed the Hall of Fame by two votes, then life is pretty good. So I've got no complaints.''

Oliva is visiting friends and relatives in Cuba and could not be reached for comment.

"It goes without saying the Twins organization is disappointed with the results of today's Hall of Fame announcement," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "We were hopeful this would finally be the year for Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat. Unfortunately, we now turn our focus toward the next Golden Era vote in 2014. Meanwhile, we congratulate the family of Ron Santo and the Chicago Cubs organization on Ron's richly deserved election."

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