NEW YORK -- Hank Aaron, baseball's all-time home run king, and Frank Robinson, the first black manager and only player to win MVP Awards in both leagues, were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America Wednesday, but a pitching giant of their era, Juan Marichal, missed joining them by seven votes.
Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth's mark of 714 to become the all-time home run leader with 755, came within nine votes of being the first unanimous selection. With 75 per cent of the vote necessary for election, Aaron received 406 of a possible 415 to finish with a percetange of 97.8.
Only Ty Cobb, who received 98.2 per cent of the vote in the first balloting in 1936, received a higher percentage and only Willie Mays, who got 409 of a possible 432 votes in 1979, received more votes.
Robinson also was an impressive winner, receiving 370 votes for a percentage of 89.1. Aaron and Robinson are the 12th and 13th players elected in their first year of eligibility, exclusive of the five named in the first election.
Both will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, August 1.
It was a sad day, however, for Marichal. The former Giants right-hander, who three times in his career won 25 or more games in a season, received 305 votes, which was only seven short of the 312 necessary for election. Marichal, however, gained 72 votes from last year's election.
No other candidate came close, although several made important gains. Shortstop Luis Aparicio, a teammate of Robinson's with Baltimore during the mid-1960s, made the biggest gain, receiving 174 votes compared to 48 last year. Slugger Harmon Killebrew, with 246 votes, gained seven votes and finished in fourth place.
Rounding out the top 10 vote-getters were relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm (236), pitcher Don Drysdale (233), first baseman Gil Hodges (205), Aparicio, pitcher Jim Bunning (138) and second baseman Red Schoendienst (135).
'I feel for the first time that what I did on the baseball field has been fully appreciated by the people I played against, the people I played with and especially the sports writers,' said Aaron. 'I would love to have been the first person to be voted in unanimously but even if I wasn't I'm still very excited about it.
'There were times when I actually thought that I might not even get the necessary 75 percent. I don't know what the yardstick is on the voting. You never know wht's going on in a person's mind.
'I kept reading where there were other things that went beyond what a person did on the field that were taken into consideration in the voting. When I heard that, I got scared for the first time in myIbaseball career. If talking about records and what I accomplished between the lines, I don't see how anyone would not vote for me.'
Robinson summed up his career in virtually one word: intensity.
'I don't see anyone playing in the major leagues today who combines both the talent and the intensity that I had,' said Robinson. 'I always tried to do the best. I knew I couldn't always be the best, but I tried to be. I expect that of my players today and of my kids. My wife says I shouldn't expect that of my children but I don't think that's asking too much.'
Robinson said if he had to pick one highlight from his career, it would be the thrill of winning the Most Valuable Player Award in both leagues. Robinson was MVP in the National League with Cincinnati in 1961 and also received that award in the American League with Baltimore in 1966, when he won the Triple Crown.
Robinson said he learned at a very early age to be an intense competitor.
'I had to be that intense to be a good player,' said Robinson. 'I wanted to be a complete player. A lot of it comes from my background. I had very good coaching at the amateur level and you had to fight for your territory or be pushed into the background. I felt I had to prove myself at all times.'
Although Robinson admitted he had great respect for Marichal, he stopped short of saying that he was the toughest pitcher he ever faced.
'I'm not surprised that Marichal is not up here with me today,' said Robinson. 'I've been around baseball too long for anything to surprise me. I think Marichal was a fine pitcher and I think, in time, he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Drysdale was probably the toughest pitcher for me to hit and there was another guy I had a lot of trouble with whose name may raise a few eyebrows -- Pete Richert.
'I had a lot of trouble with him because I stood fairly close to the plate and he was a left-hander who would throw fastball after fastball very close to me. I never adjusted to him quite enough to get the bat on the ball consistently.'
Aaron was a line drive hitting outfielder-infielder when he joined the Braves in 1953. His batting style invited comparison more with Rogers Hornsby, who had compiled a .358 lifetime average and batted more than .400 three times during his career, than with Ruth. But Aaron combined durability and consistency to surpass Ruth's mark which most baseball experts believed would stand forever. Aaron hit 40 or more homers in eight seasons and 30 or more in seven other seasons.
Robinson won his first Most Valuable Player Award as a National Leaguer with the Reds in 1961 and his second as an American Leaguer with the Orioles in 1966. He became baseball's first black manager when signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1975.
Born Oct. 24, 1937, Marichal joined the Giants in 1960 and had a composite 37-23 record for his first three seasons. He then reeled off successive records of 25-8, 21-8, 22-13, 25-6, 14-10, 26-9 and 21-11 from 1963 through 1969.