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NO SPORTS HALL OF FAME SPARKS AS MUCH DEBATE WITH ITS ANNUAL selections as does baseball's. Every January phone lines to radio talk shows are abuzz with fans who want to argue about who got in and who didn't. � The Hall is an exclusive club: Only 2% of all major league players are granted entry. Even Cy Young, the career leader in wins by a pitcher, wasn't a first-ballot selection. (He was elected to the Hall's second class, in 1937.) Tom Seaver, and not Babe Ruth, received the largest percentage of votes by a Hall of Fame candidate (98.84). � The Baseball Writers Association of America selects honorees from the pool of players who have been retired for at least five years, played for at least 10 years and have not exceeded 15 years on the ballot. The Veterans Committee, which consists of all living members of the Hall of Fame and the J.G. Taylor Spink and Ford C. Frick award winners, is responsible for the election of executives, managers and umpires. In addition, the committee also votes on players whose eligibility with the BBWAA has expired. To be elected by either group a candidate must receive 75% of the votes cast. � Here is the complete list of the 278 Hall of Fame players, umpires, executives and otherwise champions of the game whom Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. will be joining in baseball immortality.
BABE RUTH | Inducted 1936
THE SULTAN of Swat was larger than life and had a game to match. After spending his first six seasons primarily as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920. He hit 54 homers in that first season as a full-time outfielder and finished his career in 1935 as baseball's home run king with 714.
JACKIE ROBINSON | Inducted 1962
THE SECOND baseman broke the color barrier with the Dodgers in 1947 and became baseball's first rookie of the year. Two seasons later Robinson won National League MVP honors, hitting .342 with 124 RBIs for Brooklyn.
BOB GIBSON | Inducted 1981
ERNIE BANKS | Inducted 1977
THE SHORTSTOP--first baseman known as Mr. Cub was the first National League player to win back-to-back MVP awards (1958 and '59) and held the major league record for home runs by a shortstop until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in '93. Banks had 512 homers in his career.
SANDY KOUFAX Inducted 1972