Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Every first-ballot Hall of Famer in MLB history

MLB.com

Among the tens of thousands of players, managers, owners, executives and other personnel that have made their marks on baseball, only a select 323 are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 226 of them players. And among that elite group, 54 players have been granted an even more selective honor: being named to the Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility. With Yankees legend Mariano Rivera almost certain to join them when the Class of 2019 is announced on Jan. 22, here's a look at every first-ballot Hall of Famer in baseball history.

Chipper Jones
Class of 2018

Arguably the most decorated player in Braves history, and one who rivals Mickey Mantle as arguably the best switch-hitter ever, Jones became just the second No. 1 Draft choice in history to reach the Hall of Fame. Jones, who spent his entire 19-year career in Atlanta, was the cornerstone player in its run to a record 14 straight division titles. He was an eight-time All-Star, a 1995 World Series champion, the '08 National League batting champion and the '99 NL MVP Award winner.

Among the tens of thousands of players, managers, owners, executives and other personnel that have made their marks on baseball, only a select 323 are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 226 of them players. And among that elite group, 54 players have been granted an even more selective honor: being named to the Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility. With Yankees legend Mariano Rivera almost certain to join them when the Class of 2019 is announced on Jan. 22, here's a look at every first-ballot Hall of Famer in baseball history.

Chipper Jones
Class of 2018

Arguably the most decorated player in Braves history, and one who rivals Mickey Mantle as arguably the best switch-hitter ever, Jones became just the second No. 1 Draft choice in history to reach the Hall of Fame. Jones, who spent his entire 19-year career in Atlanta, was the cornerstone player in its run to a record 14 straight division titles. He was an eight-time All-Star, a 1995 World Series champion, the '08 National League batting champion and the '99 NL MVP Award winner.

Video: Chipper Jones is inducted into the Hall of Fame

Jim Thome
Class of 2018

The blue-collar slugger from Peoria, Ill., was drafted in the 13th round by the Indians in 1989 and went on to headline an era defined by power with 612 home runs, the eighth-most all-time. Thome, who was enshrined as an Indian, is one of just three hitters -- along with Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth -- to have amassed at least 600 home runs and 1,500 walks in his career.

Ivan Rodriguez
Class of 2017

"Pudge," as he became iconically known, was a 14-time All-Star and 13-time Gold Glove Award winner, both benchmarks for catchers in MLB history. He went into the Hall as a Ranger after spending his first 12 seasons as the Texas backstop, and he would go on to play in two World Series, in '03 for the Marlins and '06 with the Tigers. Despite it being a position that takes such a pounding, Rodriguez played almost exclusively at catcher throughout his 21-year career.

Ken Griffey Jr.
Class of 2016

As the son of a successful 19-year big leaguer, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 Draft and perhaps one of the most touted prospects ever, "The Kid" lived up to the hype and more. A 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner and seven-time Silver Slugger Award winner, Griffey is considered among the greatest two-way players of all-time. His 99.3 percent vote on the '16 ballot is the highest in Hall of Fame history.

Video: Griffey Jr. on top moments in Seattle, Cincinnati

Randy Johnson
Class of 2015

Over his 22-year career, Johnson utilized his lanky, 6-foot-10 frame and wipeout stuff to become arguably the most dominating pitcher of his era. Johnson registered 300 strikeouts in six separate seasons, tied with Nolan Ryan for the most ever. No other player had more than three. Johnson enjoyed Hall of Fame-worthy success over stints with both the Mariners (with whom he played 10 seasons) and D-backs (with whom he won four straight NL Cy Young Awards). He pitched his last game on Oct. 4, 2009, less than a month shy of his 46th birthday.

Pedro Martinez
Class of 2015

If it wasn't Johnson, then Martinez was the most dominating pitcher of their era. With high-90s velocity and a baffling changeup, Martinez won the Cy Young Award in both leagues -- one of just six pitchers to do so -- over a career headlined mostly by his time in Montreal and Boston. Martinez's .687 winning percentage trails Whitey Ford for the highest in the Modern Era (since 1900). But perhaps his most prominent milestone was helping the Red Sox snap the 86-year Curse of the Bambino with their 2004 World Series title.

Video: Pedro Martinez's Hall of Fame Speech

John Smoltz
Class of 2015

Smoltz became arguably his era's most versatile pitcher. After injuries forced him to the bullpen midway through his career, the 1996 NL Cy Young Award winner -- who twice led the NL in innings pitched -- went on to wow as Atlanta's closer for three and a half seasons, setting an NL record with 55 saves in 2002. Smoltz is the only player in MLB history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves.

Greg Maddux
Class of 2014

A jokester in the clubhouse but an assassin on the mound, Maddux is widely considered the game's most cerebral pitcher ever. A winner of four straight Cy Young Awards and finalist three other times, Maddux was the No. 1 ace for a Braves rotation that housed two other Cy Young Award winners in the 1990s and is considered the greatest starting staff of all time. His 555 Hall of Fame votes in '14 remain the most ever.

Video: Maddux is inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Tom Glavine
Class of 2014

Like Maddux, Glavine made his mark through command. Glavine helped kickstart the 1990s Braves dynasty as the anchor to its rotation in 1991, when the club became the first team in NL history to go from worst to first in consecutive seasons. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner's 305 wins are the fourth-most ever by a left-hander.

Frank Thomas
Class of 2014

For all of his power, "The Big Hurt" honed it with precision. He is the only player in MLB history to compile seven straight seasons with at least 20 homers, 100 RBIs, 100 walks and a .300 batting average. Thomas was a back-to-back AL MVP Award winner from 1993-94 for the White Sox, with whom he played for 16 of his 19 big league seasons.

Rickey Henderson
Class of 2009

"Transcendent" would be one of the few words aptly used to describe Henderson, whose 1,406 career stolen bases are a Major League record likely to never be broken. Henderson also owns MLB's all-time record for runs scored (2,295) and is second in walks (2,190) over his 25-year career and in 1990 was the AL MVP Award winner after swiping 65 bases and posting a 1.016 OPS -- the type of season that will almost assuredly never be matched again.

Tony Gwynn
Class of 2007

In terms of pure hitting acumen and ability, Gwynn is recognized as perhaps the greatest ever. "Mr. Padre" was a lifetime .338 hitter over 10,232 plate appearances in a 20-year career, all with San Diego. An eight-time NL batting champion, Gwynn is one of few to sniff the .400 batting average mark since Ted Williams in 1941, clipping .394 in 1994. This is all from a player who picked up baseball as a summertime hobby, and who nearly opted for a career in basketball.

Video: A look back at the 2007 Hall of Fame class

Cal Ripken Jr.
Class of 2007

Ripken was revered as the bridge between the schools of old and new. He played super defense, hit for power and average and played every day. His streak of 2,632 consecutive games played is likely one that won't ever be matched. Ripken was enshrined to the Hall with a 98.5 percent vote, the fourth-highest of all time.

Wade Boggs
Class of 2005

Boggs wasn't the most athletic, didn't have the strongest arm and was never a threat on the basepaths, but during his peak, a 12-year stretch from 1985-96 during which he was an All-Star 12 times, Boggs was arguably the game's best hitter. Over his 18 seasons, he posted a .328/.415/.443 slash line. His 240 hits in 1985 were the most by a Red Sox player in 55 years, and have been matched by only Ichiro Suzuki (2001, '04) since.

Dennis Eckersley
Class of 2004

Eckersley is one of just three relievers in MLB history to win the MVP Award -- and he did so in his 18th season after transitioning from a starting role over his first 12 seasons. He was widely regarded for revolutionizing the closer's role.

Paul Molitor
Class of 2004

Molitor had multiple monikers -- "Molly" and "The Ignitor" to name a few -- over a remarkable 21-year career. Defensively versatile and offensively adept, Molitor hit .306 over 12,167 plate appearances and logged 50 or more games at designated hitter, third base, second, first, shortstop and in the outfield. In 2017 as the Twins' skipper, Molitor joined Frank Robinson as the only Hall of Famers to be elected as players and go on to win the Manager of the Year Award.

Video: Paul Molitor's Hall of Fame induction speech

Eddie Murray
Class of 2003

Murray embarked on his 21-year career by winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award with the Orioles in 1977. He went on to play more games at first base (2,413) than any player in history, winning three Gold Glove Awards there. After 12 successful seasons in Baltimore, Murray helped the Indians to their first World Series in 41 years in '95, then returned to the Orioles for a postseason run in '96. He was enshrined with an 85.2 percent vote.

Ozzie Smith
Class of 2002

Smith's acrobatics at shortstop made him arguably the greatest at the position that requires such skill. He won 13 straight Gold Glove Awards from 1980-92 and was an All-Star in all but one season in that stretch. He helped the Cardinals win the '82 World Series title.

Kirby Puckett
Class of 2001

A favorite among his teammates for his personality and play, Puckett truly made the most of his injury-shortened Major League career. Over his 12 seasons, all with the Twins, Puckett was a 10-time All-Star and a six-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field. He also was particularly critical during the Twins' World Series championship runs in 1987 and '91, hitting .309/.361/.536 over 24 playoff games.

Video: Aug. 5, 2001, Puckett and Winfield inducted into HOF

Dave Winfield
Class of 2001

Regardless of baseball, Winfield might be one of the greatest athletes ever -- he was drafted in four major sports leagues, according to Hall of Fame archives. And he never played a day in the Minors, going straight to the big leagues in 1973 after he was drafted by the Padres. A 12-time All-Star, Winfield hit 465 home runs and is a member of the 3,000-hit club.

George Brett
Class of 1999

Brett, a Kansas City legend, enjoyed a run of sustained success that included batting titles in three different decades (1976, '80, '90). He won the AL MVP Award in 1980 and was part of the Royals' first championship team in '85.

Nolan Ryan
Class of 1999

Ryan played a record 27 years in the Majors, pitching for the Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers, and is baseball's all-time leader in no-hitters (seven) and strikeouts (5,714). He won a World Series with the Mets in 1969. Ryan received 98.8 percent of the votes during his first year on the ballot, the third-most all-time.

Video: Ryan, Brett and Yount mark legendary 1999 HOF Class

Robin Yount
Class of 1999

Yount spent only a few months in the Minors before reaching the big leagues as a teenager. The two-time NL MVP would remain there for two decades, playing shortstop and center field for the Brewers.

Mike Schmidt
Class of 1995

Schmidt excelled with both his bat -- he led the NL in home runs eight times -- and his glove -- he won 10 Gold Glove Awards -- during his Hall of Fame career. The longtime Phillie won a World Series with the club in 1980.

Steve Carlton
Class of 1994

Carlton, one of baseball's most decorated southpaws, won four Cy Young Awards, a pitching Triple Crown and two World Series titles. During his remarkable 1972 campaign, he compiled a 1.97 ERA and struck out 310 batters over 346 1/3 innings and remains the last pitcher to exceed 300 innings in a single season (1980).

Reggie Jackson
Class of 1993

Dubbed "Mr. October" for his postseason heroics, Jackson not only enjoyed immense personal success -- he's a 14-time All-Star, the 1973 AL MVP and a four-time home run leader -- but contributed to some stellar A's, Yankees and Angels teams, including five World Series champions and 10 first-place finishers.

Video: Jackson remembers his childhood in Pennsylvania

Tom Seaver
Class of 1992

Seaver played 20 seasons in the big leagues, with his most notable turn coming with the Mets from 1967-77, during which he won NL Rookie of the Year, three Cy Young Awards and a World Series title (1969). Seaver's 98.8 percent Hall vote is the highest ever for a pitcher.

Rod Carew
Class of 1991

Carew split his 19-year career between the Angels and Twins -- both of which have retired his No. 29 -- and made the AL All-Star team in all but his final season. The 1977 AL MVP was a seven-time batting champion.

Jim Palmer
Class of 1990

Palmer became destined for greatness early on. He became the youngest pitcher in MLB history to throw a complete-game shutout in the World Series, doing so days before his 21st birthday. Palmer became the premier pitcher of the 1970s, compiling the most wins (186) and lowest ERA (2.58) of anyone in that decade. He spent his entire 19-year career with the Orioles and won the AL Cy Young Award three times.

Joe Morgan
Class of 1990

Morgan won his first MVP Award in '75 after hitting .327 with 17 homers, 67 steals and 132 walks -- and only got better the following season, when he won MVP again. The "Big Red Machine" won the World Series in both of those seasons, keyed by the 10-time All-Star second baseman and all-time hit king Pete Rose atop the lineup.

Johnny Bench
Class of 1989

Bench anchored Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" of the '70s behind the plate en route to back-to-back World Series titles, winning NL Rookie of the Year in '68 and a pair of NL MVP Awards in '70 and '72 after leading the Senior Circuit in homers both years. That's not to mention his stellar defense as a backstop, for which he won 10 Gold Glove Awards.

Video: Johnny Bench delivers Hall of Fame induction speech

Carl Yastrzemski
Class of 1989

A young Yastrzemski had huge shoes to fill, stepping into left field as a 21-year-old rookie the season after Ted Williams' retirement. Three batting titles, a Triple Crown, an AL MVP Award and 18 All-Star appearances helped Yaz earn a place beside Williams in Red Sox lore.

Willie Stargell
Class of 1988

Stargell spent his entire 21-year career in Pittsburgh, topping 20 homers in 13 straight seasons and winning a pair of home run crowns after the Pirates moved to Three Rivers Stadium in 1971. The seven-time All-Star and 1979 NL MVP Award winner won a pair of World Series titles in '71 and '79.

Willie McCovey
Class of 1986

McCovey terrorized the NL for the majority of 22 seasons, leading the Senior Circuit in homers three times and winning the 1969 MVP Award. His 521 homers are tied for 20th on the all-time list, and his 18 grand slams were second only to Lou Gehrig's 23 at the time.

Video: Hot Stove discusses the passing of Willie McCovey

Lou Brock
Class of 1985

A gifted hitter and one of the game's premier threats on the basepaths, Brock stole at least 50 bases in 12 straight seasons from 1965-76, leading the NL in steals in all but four of those years and breaking Ty Cobb's all-time stolen bases mark in 1977. The six-time All-Star has since been topped in steals by only Rickey Henderson.

Brooks Robinson
Class of 1983

Robinson won an AL MVP Award in 1964 and was an 18-time All-Star, but was best known for setting the defensive standard at third base, where he became known as "The Human Vacuum Cleaner" and won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

Hank Aaron
Class of 1982

Hammerin' Hank hit 30 homers in a season 15 times and topped the .300 mark 14 times in a consistent career that the 25-time All-Star selection capped by breaking Babe Ruth's homerun record in 1974 to seize the title of baseball's home run king until 2007.

Frank Robinson
Class of 1982

Robinson tied a rookie record with 38 homers as he won the 1956 NL Rookie of the Year Award and became the first player to win an MVP Award in both leagues -- for the Reds and Orioles -- before he later became the first African-American manager in MLB history.

Bob Gibson
Class of 1981

Gibson's legendary 1968, during which he recorded a 1.12 ERA and struck out 268 batters, is often cited as one of the reasons why MLB lowered the mound and reduced the size of the strike zone before the following season. The two-time Cy Young Award winner and '68 NL MVP quite literally changed the game.

Video: Bob Gibson is inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981

Al Kaline
Class of 1980

After not spending a day in the Minor Leagues, Kaline established himself as one of the league's best as the AL batting champion in 1955 at age 20, the youngest to ever win the crown, and retired after 22 years in Detroit spanning a World Series, 10 Gold Glove Awards and 18 All-Star Games.

Willie Mays
Class of 1979

Perhaps the greatest five-tool player in the history of baseball, the Say Hey Kid dazzled with his personality and excelled in every facet of the game, hitting 660 homers (fifth all-time), stealing 338 bases, hitting .302 for his career and playing in a record-tying 24 All-Star Games. Oh, and don't forget about "the catch."

Ernie Banks
Class of 1977

As the nickname suggests, "Mr. Cub" holds a special place in Cubs history, finishing as the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1954 before playing in 11 straight All-Star Games, winning back-to-back NL MVP Awards and the Cubs' first Gold Glove Award.

Mickey Mantle
Class of 1974

The longtime center fielder set a high bar for switch-hitters, winning three AL MVP Awards, a Triple Crown and seven World Series during the Yankees' dynasty in the 1950s and '60s. His .977 career OPS is second to Mike Trout among center fielders, and his 536 homers are third among center fielders behind Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr.

Video: Mickey Mantle being inducted into Cooperstown

Warren Spahn
Class of 1973

The majority of Spahn's career came after his service in World War II, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart. Had it not been for the three seasons he spent overseas, Spahn, the winningest left-handed pitcher of all time (363), 17-time All-Star and 13-time 20-game winner, might have joined Cy Young and Walter Johnson in the 400-win club.

Sandy Koufax
Class of 1972

Before the left-hander's career was cut short after his age-30 season due to his arthritic elbow, Koufax posted one of the most dominant four-year stretches ever from 1963-66 for the Dodgers, winning three Cy Young Awards, an NL MVP Award, three Triple Crowns and two World Series MVP Awards.

Stan Musial
Class of 1969

Not only did Stan "The Man" win three NL MVP Awards, three World Series championships and seven batting titles, but he did it all in St. Louis, where he spent his entire 22-year career and became the face of the franchise. His 24 All-Star Game appearances are tied for the MLB record.

Video: Cardinals legend Stan Musial enters Cooperstown

Ted Williams
Class of 1966

The Red Sox legend remains the last player to hit over .400 in a full season, and his .344 career average remains tied for seventh in MLB history. The two-time AL MVP Award winner, two-time Triple Crown winner and six-time batting champion also served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps for three years of his prime and later served in the Korean War.

Bob Feller
Class of 1962

Feller blew Major League hitters away starting at the young age of 17, threw a no-hitter and tallied three 20-win seasons and a Triple Crown before giving up nearly four years of his prime to enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Upon his return, he had three more 20-win seasons and finished with a 3.25 career ERA.

Jackie Robinson
Class of 1962

Robinson's place in baseball history was already secure after he broke MLB's color barrier in 1947, but he also excelled on the diamond, winning Rookie of the Year and an MVP Award and earning six All-Star nods through a 10-year Major League career.

Video: Jackie Robinson's 1962 Hall of Fame induction speech

Ty Cobb
Class of 1936

Often described as the greatest hitter of all time, the ferociously competitive Cobb received the most Hall of Fame votes of the five enshrined in the inaugural ballot after winning 12 batting titles and hitting .366 in his career -- both still Major League records. He and Pete Rose are the only members of the 4,000-hit club, and Cobb's 897 steals are fourth in MLB history. Cobb's 98.2 percent vote was the Hall's highest until Tom Seaver eclipsed him in 1992.

Walter Johnson
Class of 1936

Baseball's all-time leader in shutouts (110) and runner-up in wins (417), Johnson was the only member of the 3,000-strikeout club for nearly 51 years after amassing a then-record 3,508 during his 21-year career, winning three Triple Crowns and two MVP Awards.

Christy Mathewson
Class of 1936

The two-time Triple Crown winner and his famous "fadeaway" screwball baffled hitters throughout a 17-year career that set the standard for pitching excellence, during which he won at least 30 games four times and collected 373 career wins -- still the NL record in the modern era.

Babe Ruth
Class of 1936

The Bambino's powerful left-handed swing and 714 homers ushered baseball out of the dead-ball era, and the former ace pitcher and home run king's larger-than-life persona transcended the limits of the baseball field and cemented his place not only in baseball lore, but also in American legend.

Honus Wagner
Class of 1936

Considered by many to be the greatest shortstop in baseball history, Wagner won eight batting titles in his 21-year career, primarily for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates, and was not only one of the best hitters and baserunners of the era, but also an able defender at virtually every position.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.