Mike Mussina developed a reputation throughout his 18-year Major League career for coming up just short.
He came within outs of pitching multiple perfect games, winning the World Series and reaching milestones like 3,000 strikeouts and 300 wins.
“Instead of almost going into the Hall of Fame, I actually get to say that I’m in the Hall of Fame,” Mussina said while visiting Cooperstown on Thursday. “Do I wish I would have had a chance to be a World Champion, or maybe win a Cy Young Award? Of course, but I get to sit here now.”
He was voted in on his sixth ballot this past January. In his first year on the ballot in 2014, Mussina received just over 20 percent.
“I must have won a lot more games or struck out a lot more people in the last five years then the first year I guess,” he said jokingly. “I’m really thankful for the 20 percent who voted for me the first time because when you’re thrown on that ballot, there has to be enough people that think you’re a first ballot Hall of Famer to keep you on the ballot.”
Mussina’s percentages steadily increased until he reached 76.7 percent in 2019, exceeding the 75 percent necessary for induction. His extended wait means he’ll get to share his Cooperstown moment with longtime teammate Mariano Rivera.
“To have (Rivera) behind me knowing that he was going to come in and win this game was a good feeling to have,” he said. “It was great playing with him.”
Mussina doesn’t have the accolades that other great pitchers in the sport have, but he still managed to find a way into the Hall of Fame.
“You don’t have to win five Cy Young Awards and strike out 4,000 people as a pitcher to be able to be thought of as one of the best that ever played,” he said. “I’m an example of someone that didn’t win a ton of individual awards.”
Mussina and the rest of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 will be inducted on July 21st.