Sunday, October 24, 1999

Gehrig top vote-getter on All-Century Team

The Associated Press

        ATLANTA — Lou Gehrig narrowly topped Babe Ruth to finish first in voting for baseball's All-Century team, with Hank Aaron third followed by Ted Williams and Willie Mays.

        In the most controversial selection on the 30-man team announced Saturday, banned outfielder Pete Rose was elected to the ninth and final outfield spot.

        Four active players were among the 25 elected by fans: New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, scheduled to start Game 4 of the World Series; St. Louis first baseman Mark McGwire; Seattle outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., and Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. at shortstop.

        Five players bypassed by fans were added to the team by a panel of experts: shortstop Honus Wagner, outfielder Stan Musial and pitchers Lefty Grove, Christy Mathewson and Warren Spahn.

        “In this century, more than 15,000 men have had the opportunity to play Major League Baseball,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “But only a special few transcend the eras in which they played and remain in the consciousness of baseball fans and historians as the greatest in history.

        “I am certain that even 100 years from today, the 30 players assembled on the All-Century Team will still be remembered and revered.”

        Voting, sponsored by MasterCard International, was conducted by fans from July 13-Sept. 19, and all 18 living members of the team are expected to attend on-field ceremonies tonight. Fans were asked to pick two players at each infield position, two catchers, six pitchers and nine outfielders.

        Rose was invited to the ceremonies, even though he accepted a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 following an investigation of his gambling. He told baseball he will miss the pregame news conference to make a casino appearance in New Jersey, then arrive for the on-field ceremonies.

        Selig didn't invite Rose to the All-Star game, when the living members among the 100 on the ballot were honored.

        “Attendance at any function like that was forbidden,” Selig said then.

        Selig reversed course a month later and said Rose would be allowed to come to the Series if elected. He repeated Saturday that he didn't think Rose's inclusion will diminish the ceremony.

        “My only hope is it will be as good as the ceremonies from the All-Star game,” he said.

        Rose's former teammate, Johnny Bench (1,010,403), finished first at catcher, easily ahead of Yogi Berra (704,208) and Carlton Fisk (322,384).

        “It's a great honor,” Berra said. “Think of all the great catchers: Bill Dickey, Josh Gibson, Roy Campanella, Mickey Cochrane.”

        Gehrig (1,207,992) was tops among first basemen, followed by McGwire (517,181) and Jimmie Foxx (351,488). Jackie Robinson (788,116) led second basemen, followed by Rogers Hornsby (630,761) and Joe Morgan (608,660).

        Ripken (669,033), who switched to third base in recent years, topped the voting for shortstops. Ernie Banks (598,168) beat out Ozzie Smith (589,025) for second in the closest voting for a spot on the team.

        “I saw all of 'em,” Banks said. “I feel like I played 100 years.”

        In a spot dominated by players from late in the century, Mike Schmidt (855,654) led at third base, followed by Brooks Robinson (761,700) and George Brett (656,511).

        Ruth (11,58,044) led the outfielders, followed by Aaron (1,156,782).

        Nolan Ryan (992,040) topped pitchers, followed by Sandy Koufax (970,434), Cy Young (867,523), Clemens (601,244), Bob Gibson (582,031) and Walter Johnson (479,279).

        Greg Maddux (431,751), who started Game 1 of the World Series, was seventh.


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