Jeter Enters Hall at the Top of His Class

Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, and Marvin Miller also are inducted in Cooperstown
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2021 7:10 PM CDT
Jeter Enters Hall at the Top of His Class
Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, and Ted Simmons hold their plaques after the induction ceremony Wednesday in Cooperstown, N.Y.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

In Derek Jeter's speech Wednesday, he thanked the Yankees scout who discovered him and saw this day coming from the start. "He's not going to the University of Michigan," Dick Groch said. "The only place Derek Jeter is going is Cooperstown." Jeter was elected in his first year of eligibility but still arrived a little late, delayed by the pandemic; this was the 2020 class. The others being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame waited longer. Ted Simmons, picked by the veterans committee, retired after the 1988 season. Larry Walker had been on the regular ballot for the maximum 10 years, CBS reports. And the late Marvin Miller, who didn't want to be inducted, last led the players association in 1982.

  • Ted Simmons: The switch-hitting catcher said he didn't mind the wait. "There are many roads to Cooperstown," he said in his speech. Simmons empathized with fans unhappy with the state of the game. "Strikeout, walk, homer today is pretty much what you get," he said, "but our game can change back." In 21 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves, Simmons had 2,472 hits, 483 doubles, 248 homers, and 1,389 RBIs. He made eight All-Star teams. He later moved into front-office jobs, including general manager. Simmons thanked the players who helped bring about free agency, as well as 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."
  • Larry Walker: "I share this honor with every Canadian," he said. "I hope that all you Canadian kids out there that have dreams of playing in the big leagues that see me here today gives you another reason to go after those dreams." Walker is just the second Canadian to make the Hall of Fame; the other, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, was onstage Wednesday. The outfielder played in the majors for 17 seasons, per ESPN, and was National League MVP in 1997. He made five All-Star teams and posted 383 home runs, 1,311 RBIs, and a batting average of .313.

  • Marvin Miller: He changed the players union and baseball by driving out the reserve clause and bringing in free agency. Another union head, Donald Fehr, addressed the crowd in place of MIller, who died in 2012. He said Miller would educate players on the issues, then follow their lead, per the New York Times. "They respected him enormously and trusted him completely,” Fehr said. Miller didn't want his family to take part in the induction, per Sports Illustrated, after calling the selection method a farce. He wasn't interested in fame, his son said. "What drove him was the solidarity of a union and free agency—freedom," Peter Miller said. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver had called Miller's exclusion a disgrace. Henry Aaron once said, "Miller should be in the Hall of Fame if the players have to break down the door to get him in."

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  • Derek Jeter: The New York crowd chanted the Yankees captain's name even before he stepped to the microphone. "I forgot how good that feels," he said afterward. The shortstop made 14 All-Star teams, won five Gold Gloves and had 3,465 hits, sixth in baseball history. He led the Yankees to five world championships. He talked Wednesday about being affected early in his career when he sat next to Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, at an awards dinner and was tapped on the shoulder at an All-Star Game by Hank Aaron. "I realized it's more than a game," Jeter said. "The greatest people and players in this game, the Hall of Fame family, they're watching, so I wanted their approval."
This will be the last class for a while; no one was elected this year. The ceremony Wednesday also honored the 10 Hall of Famers who have died since the last induction, in July 2019, per MLB. (More Baseball Hall of Fame stories.)

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