Derek Jeter joins greats as Baseball Hall of Fame's 2020 class finally gets inducted in Cooperstown
Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and Marvin Miller were enshrined Wednesday afternoon
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum officially welcomed its four newest members Wednesday. This year's induction ceremony honored the 2020 Hall of Fame class, led by Derek Jeter and Larry Walker. Last summer's ceremony was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2021 Hall of Fame class was empty as no player received enough votes for induction.
To summarize this year's honorees:
- The 2020 class includes Larry Walker and Derek Jeter (BBWAA vote), Ted Simmons (player via veteran committee vote) and Marvin Miller (former union boss via veteran committee vote).
- The 2021 class is empty. The BBWAA did not vote anyone in and the veteran committee did not hold a vote during the virtual winter meetings over the offseason.
As usual, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place on the lawn outside the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York. Throngs of Yankees fans predictably attended Jeter's induction, though Walker and Simmons had plenty of fan support as well. Here are a few takeaways from Wednesday's induction ceremony.
Stars came out for Jeter
Not surprisingly, Jeter's induction brought countless big names to Cooperstown. Even former minor-league baseball player (and NBA legend) Michael Jordan was in attendance:
Others who showed up to Jeter's induction include former Yankees teammates like Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, and Bernie Williams (who performed the national anthem on guitar), and mentors like Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph. The crowd was loaded with Yankees fans as well, with a few "De-Rek Je-Ter!" chants breaking out throughout the ceremony.
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Jeter thanks the voters 'except one'
The Hall of Fame saved Jeter's speech for the grand finale and the longtime Yankees captain did not disappoint with his remarks. He thanked coaches and teammates, his family, and the countless others who helped him throughout his career. Jeter also thanked the BBWAA for voting him into the Hall of Fame.
"Thank you to the baseball writers. All but one of you," Jeter joked, referring to falling one vote short of being the second unanimous selection into the Hall of Fame. He's always had a knack for one-liners.
Jeter was the No. 6 pick in the 1992 draft and he went on to play parts of 21 seasons in the big leagues, all with the Yankees. During that time he authored a .310/.377/.440 batting line. Jeter ranks sixth all-time with 3,465 hits, he's a 14-time All-Star, he received MVP votes in 12 different seasons, and of course he's a five-time World Series champ.
"I had one goal throughout my career and that was to win more than anyone else," Jeter said. "And we did."
You can relive Jeter's top 10 Yankees moments here. Below is Jeter's full speech from Cooperstown:
Walker becomes first Rockies' Hall of Famer
Prior to Walker, the Rockies never had a single future Hall of Famer play a game for their franchise. They were the only MLB team who could make that claim. Now they have their very own Hall of Famer in Walker, who also became the second Canadian in Cooperstown, joining Fergie Jenkins.
"Thank you Canada," Walker said during his speech. "I share this honor with every Canadian, and I hope that all you Canadian kids out there that have dreams of playing in big leagues seeing me here today gives you another reason to go after those dreams."
Walker famously wore a SpongeBob SquarePants shirt during the Hall of Fame voting reveal show last year, and that shirt has made it to Cooperstown (Walker wore a SpongeBob pin on his suit Wednesday):
"I honestly see myself as an average guy, and I'm good with average," Walker said during his speech. Of course, Walker was anything but average on the field. He was a three-time batting champ and the 1997 NL MVP, and he was an all-around threat who could beat you with his bat, his glove, his legs, or his arm.
Walker spent 17 seasons in the big leagues and during that time he hit .313/.400/.565 with 383 home runs. That is more than 40 percent better than league average once adjusted for ballpark, as Walker took roughly 31 percent of his career plate appearances in Coors Field.
Simmons steals the show
Ted Simmons had to wait more than 15 years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He fell off the BBWAA's ballot in 1994, his first year of eligibility, and it wasn't until last year that he was voted in by the veteran committee. Simmons is the first player to make it into the Hall of Fame after falling off the BBWAA's ballot in his first year of eligibility.
"For those like myself, the path is long," Simmons said during his Hall of Fame speech Wednesday. "And even though my path fell on the longer side, I would not change a thing."
Wednesday afternoon, Simmons opened the ceremony with a beautiful speech that was equal parts grateful and inspirational. He cited the trailblazing efforts of Marvin Miller, Curt Flood, and Andy Messersmith, and closed with a Beatles quote: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
In parts of 21 MLB seasons, Simmons recorded 2,472 hits and 248 home runs, and he ranks ninth among catchers with 50.2 WAR.
Miller finally enshrined
It was no secret Marvin Miller, the union leader who grew the MLBPA and helped players take control of their careers, did not want to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame. He was passed over by the veteran committee multiple times and, in 2008, he wrote the BBWAA a letter asking to be removed from consideration.
"I'm writing to thank you and your associates for your part in nominating me for Hall of Fame consideration, and, at the same time, to ask that you not do this again," Miller wrote.
Miller died in 2012 and was voted into the Hall of Fame last year, though his son, Peter, said he would honor his father's wishes and not attend the ceremony. Instead, Miller was honored Wednesday by Donald Fehr, executive director of the MLBPA from 1985-2009 and currently head of the NHL's player union.
"Without question, Marvin had more positive influence on Major League Baseball than any other person in the last half of the 20th century," Fehr said. "Baseball was not the same after your tenure as it was before, it was and is much better for everyone. You brought out the best of us and you did us proud."
Relive the 2021 Hall of Fame induction ceremony and honoree speeches with our live blog below.
Jeter thanks Dick Groch, the New York Yankees scout assigned to the Midwest region in the 1990s, who "found" him. As mentioned in Jeter's speech, Groch foreshadowed this moment with this quote:
"He's not going to the University of Michigan. The only place Derek Jeter is going is Cooperstown."
Jeter did in fact forgo his time in Ann Arbor and signed with the Yankees in 1992.
Thank you to the baseball writers - all but one of you," Jeter joked. He was one vote short of unanimous induction.
🚨 Jeter is at the podium! RETWEET for a chance at his signed baseball 🚨— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) September 8, 2021
Bid now on the Jeter HOF auction that includes autographed & game-used items and more at https://t.co/diwD3PUy7G through 9/12 at 8pE. Check out the buy now tab for memorabilia available for direct purchase pic.twitter.com/3KLGf31j9K
Jeter finally inducted
The COVID-19 pandemic postponed last summer's induction ceremony and on Wednesday, Derek Jeter will finally be enshrined in Cooperstown. The headliner of the 2020 Hall of Fame class ranks sixth all-time with 3,465 hits, and he is the all-time leader in countless postseason stats (hits, doubles, plate appearances, etc.). Obviously that is a function of the wild card era, but you still have to perform, and Jeter certainly performed in October.
Not surprisingly, the crowd in Cooperstown is decidedly pro-Jeter -- several "De-Rek Je-Ter!" chants broke out earlier in the afternoon -- and his speech figures to be among the most watched (and most quoted) in Hall of Fame history.
Walker becomes first Rockies Hall of Famer
Prior to Walker's induction, the Rockies were the only MLB team to never have a Hall of Famer play even one game for their franchise. He had to wait the full 10 years on the BBWAA ballot to be voted in, but better late than never.
At this peak, Walker was a dynamic all-around threat who could beat you with his bat, his glove, his arm, and his legs. At his peak from 1991-2004, he authored a .320/.407/.580 batting line, which was more than 40 percent better than league average even after adjusting for Coors Field during his time with Colorado. Walker was a three-time batting champ and the 1997 NL MVP.
Walker is the first Rockies player in the Hall of Fame and also only the second Canadian-born Hall of Famer, joining Fergie Jenkins.
“For those like myself, the path [to Cooperstown] is long – and even though my path fell on the longer side, I would not change a thing."— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) September 8, 2021
We couldn't be more thrilled to have you, Ted. (📷: Milo Stewart Jr.) pic.twitter.com/VgbEvKUKoj
Simmons gave a great speech. MLB Network should hire him to narrate a bunch of stuff. Great voice and passionate about the game.