For nine years now, arguably the best reliever in the history of the Houston Astros, Billy Wagner, has seen countless debates and arguments over his case for induction into the Hall of Fame. For the previous eight ballots, those discussions and votes have yielded disappointment, albeit with progress each successive voting round. With 2024 being his ninth year on the ballot, Wagner knows the deal by now and that he can do nothing but wait and see.
The pageantry around the announcement of each year's Hall of Fame class is an event in itself. Some players wait with big gatherings of family and friends, others get themselves TV ready and set up in a quiet room so they can do video interviews the rest of the day, and some are Larry Walker, who famously decided to show up to the proceedings wearing a Spongebob Squarepants shirt.
Wagner is taking a different approach this year. After multiple close calls and nearly a decade of falling short of Cooperstown, he has decided that he is going to not treat the day any differently than usual and will be coaching kids when calls go out to those voted into the Hall next week.
Billy Wagner isn't sweating his potential Hall of Fame induction
According to Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame voting tracker, this is going to be another very close vote for Wagner. As of Jan. 18, he has appeared on 80% of ballots that have been revealed publicly so far. With the threshold for induction being 75%, he needs to appear on roughly 70.8% of the remaining ballots to get into Cooperstown -- and that includes the notoriously stingy minority of voters that keep their ballots private.
For Wagner, he isn't going to get his hopes up and change his routine. He has been coaching high school baseball in Virginia for years now and that is where his heart and focus is. If BBWAA voters decide he is Hall-worthy this year, then he will get to share that moment with his players. If not, it will just be another day at the office for him, and he will get one more shot next year before his case will have go to the committee votes after his 10 years of ballot eligibility are up.
Good for him. In an age where every event is sensationalized and every comment is parsed to death, Wagner just reminded all of us you don't have to give your attention to every circus and get stressed out over things that are outside your control. At the end of the day, he will still be considered one of the best closers the league has ever seen and he will still be coaching his kids whether he gets a plaque in Cooperstown or not.