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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 Nears the End of a Long Road to Cooperstown

The Class of 2020 has had a long wait for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and not just because the coronavirus pandemic set the festivities back nearly 14 months. While Derek Jeter was resoundingly elected in his first year of eligibility, the road to Cooperstown for the other three honorees — Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, and the late Marvin Miller — was more like a maze, full of wrong turns and apparent dead ends. That road finally ends on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 8, when all four will be inducted into the Hall. As somebody who has been deeply invested in the careers and candidacies of all four, I couldn’t bypass the midweek trip, even under pandemic conditions.

“There was never any thought in my head that [my election] was going to happen. So to be completely honest, I didn’t pay much attention,” said Walker during a Zoom session with reporters last Thursday, referring to the annual BBWAA voting. During his first seven years of eligibility, he maxed out at 22.9% of the vote (2012), and dipped as low as 10.2% (2014).

Even those meager showings surpassed Simmons, who received just 3.7% in 1994, his first year of eligibility. “Back then, you were literally off the ballot. And you know, there was really no vehicle at that time that I knew of or heard of that would enable you to come back,” he said during his own Zoom session, referring to the so-called “Five Percent Rule” that sweeps candidates who fail to reach that mark off the ballot.

Simmons could be forgiven for not knowing the ins and outs of the Hall’s arcane election systems. That he even made it onto an Era Committee ballot to have his candidacy reconsidered for the first time in 2011 was itself groundbreaking. As longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel, who has served on several iterations of the Historical Overview Committee that puts together such ballots, said in 2015, “The first question these Hall of Famers ask you is, ‘How many ballots was he on for the writers’ election? One? They must not have liked him very much.’”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 10:36 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: derek jeter, hall of fame, larry walker, marvin miller, ted simmons

 

 

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