Cooperstown, NY: The setting was the same but the wait was a bit longer this time around. I hoped to have seen a yellow ribbon tied around an old oak tree. But that might have been a bit too cliché even for baseball; the pandemic that had sent most of America home in 2020 didn’t allow four of the greatest of all time to enter their home for a full year. Ted SimmonsLarry WalkerDerek Jeter and the late Marvin Miller were today finally made immortal as they entered the most hallowed of halls. The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame – and this year’s ceremony ran the gambit.

 

Derek Jeter

Jeter’s induction was preordained, The Yankees great was ushered in the first time his name was placed on the ballot. Larry Walker, on the other hand, took the long way home and made it on his tenth and final appearance. Ted Simmons got his second chance from the modern era baseball committee 31 years after his name was removed from the ballot. Marvin Miller was at long last sent in by the veteran committee. Welcome home Gentlemen!

“De-rek Je-ter!” the Yankees crowd chanted. “De-rek Je-ter!” as their hero took to the podium, “De-rek Je-ter!…… “De-rek Je-ter!”

 

His first words on the greatest day of his life:

 

“I forgot how good that sounds,” 

Jeter went on to wax poetically of how he met Rachel Robinson, the late Jackie Robinson‘s wife, at a BBWAA banquet in 1996 and Hank Aaron at the 1999 All-Star Game.

“These two moments in particular are when I realized it’s more than just a game,” Jeter said. “The Hall of Fame family, they’re watching. So I wanted their approval. During my career, I wanted to make Mrs. Robinson proud, I wanted to make Hank Aaron proud, I wanted to make all of you behind me proud. Not the statistics. Proud of how I played the game, how I carried myself and how I respected the game for those before and after me.”

He went on to talk of his future in baseball as CEO of the Marlins and his pride in ushering in the next generation of heroes. And children.

“For so many years, I represented New York and the Yankee organization in the best light possible,” he said. “Now I represent you. Know that I’m here to support you, guide you, protect you. Most importantly, I’m here to love you. I want you to find someone that inspires you, and when the time is right, I want you to inspire others.”

Inspiring to the last…Love him or not, you have to respect this man and acknowledge he belongs. 

Larry Walker 

Happily, my lasting memory of Larry Walker will always be his stepping across the plate into the right-handed batter’s box and flipping his helmet on backward when facing Randy Johnson during the 1997 All-Star Game. This ladies and gents was Larry Walker. But he was so much more. He won seven gold gloves, was a three-time batting champion and belted 383 home runs, and drove in 1,311 batters over his injury-riddled career. A selfless player who forever put his team first. Walker put his countrymen first on what was supposed to be his day.

“I share this honor with every Canadian,” Walker said. “And I hope for all you Canadian kids out there that have dreams of playing in the big leagues that seeing me here today gives you another reason to go after those dreams.”

Did I mention he was the 1997 N.L. MVP?

Not bad for a Canadian kid who found baseball after he couldn’t cut it as a Pee-Wee Goalie. 

Ted Simmons 

 

Ted Simmons was added and removed from the BBWAA ballot as quickly as he was put on it. After his first year of eligibility he failed to get the 5% required to remain in consideration. When the game of baseball was done with him (1988) Simmons wasn’t done with the game. Ted stayed in baseball – as a scout, as a GM, as an executive. And that was his ticket to Cooperstown. He is the only hall member to be elected after being removed from their first ballot. 

“There are many roads to Cooperstown,” Simmons said. “For some, it comes quickly and for others, it takes a little time. For those like myself, the path is long. And even though my path fell on the longer side, I would not change a thing.”

Simmons was an eight-time all-star who amassed 2,472 career hits, 483 doubles, 248 homers, 1,389 RBIs over 21 seasons with the Cardinals, Brewers, and Braves. 

Simmons going in as an executive paid tribute to his now fellow hall of famer Marvin Miller.

“He made so much possible for every Major League player from my era to the present and the future,” Simmons said. “I could not be more proud to enter this great Hall with this great man.”

The Late Marvin Miller 

Miller was the first Executive Director of the MLBPA, he organize, legitimized, and turned it into the most powerful union in sports history. He erased the reserve clause that kept ballplayers in indentured servitude to the owners. Miller made his players free agents and ushered in the dreaded arbitration years. And that, my friends, is why it took this long to get him through these doors. You see the executives decide what executives go in. In the final years of his life, Miller asked to be removed from consideration for the hall, his wishes were not respected any more than the owners respected him while he was in office. They knew it would be bad PR. 

In the last years of his life, Miller asked to be removed from consideration for the Hall, and before he died in 2012, he made clear that if he were ever inducted, he would prefer his family not be a part of the ceremony. (They respected his wishes).

 

MLost in LA, Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is MVP

 

Featured Image via USA Today/Danielle Parhizkaran

Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2021 or 2020 | Murph | 9-9-2021