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Smith makes Hall of Fame

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NEW YORK — Ozzie Smith, regarded as the finest-fielding shortstop ever, was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first try by an overwhelming margin Tuesday.

Smith was the only player picked, with Gary Carter falling just short.

A 13-time Gold Glove winner while with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres, Smith was chosen on 91.7 percent of the ballots.

The Wizard of Oz became the 37th player picked in his first year of eligibility.

Smith was selected on 433 of 472 ballots. To be elected, players had to be listed on at least 75 percent of the ballots of 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Carter got 343 votes (72.7 percent) and fell 11 shy of election. The former catcher's totals have dramatically improved over the years, going from 34 percent in 1999 to nearly 49.7 percent in 2000 to 65 percent last year.

Smith wasn't the fastest, didn't throw the hardest, didn't hit the farthest. But he did show how shortstop should be played.

"I don't think anybody ever played the position any better than he played it," former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog said Monday.

Carter, Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage top the holdovers from last year, when Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield were elected on the first try.

Just 36 players have been elected in their first year of eligibility. There are 251 people in the Hall, overall.

Smith, 47, was a 15-time All-Star in his career, which ended in 1996.

He spent 19 seasons in the major leagues, breaking in with San Diego in 1978. Smith played four years with the Padres, then finished with 15 years in St. Louis.

Smith won 13 NL Gold Gloves — all in a row from 1980-92 — set shortstop records for most assists (8,375) and double plays (1,590) and entertained fans with a backflip when he ran out to shortstop at the start of games.