The first Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in over two years was worth the wait for New York Yankees icon Derek Jeter, who was honored in Cooperstown, New York, on Wednesday.
Jeter, who was enshrined along with Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and former players union executive director Marvin Miller, drew huge cheers from the pro-Yankees crowd that descended upon the quaint village in central New York.
Jeter, 47, played 20 seasons with the Yankees after he was drafted in the first round in 1992 out of Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His Yankees teams won five World Series titles and seven American League pennants.
A career .310 hitter over 2,747 games and 11,195 at-bats, Jeter was an American League All-Star 14 times and led the AL in hits with 216 as recently as 2012 at age 38.
“This is as high as you can go in terms of your playing career,” Jeter said. “There’s no other awards or accolades you can receive. From a career playing standpoint … man, I guess it does close the chapter.”
Jeter gave signs of what was ahead when he was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1996. He went on to play the most games in the history of the storied Yankees franchise and also had a club-record 3,465 hits, a total that ranks sixth in major league history.
Jeter, also a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, was named to 99.7% of ballots from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America in his first year of eligibility.
“Thank you to the baseball writers, all but one of you who voted for me,” Jeter said.
Walker, 54, is a native of Canada who batted .313 over a 17-year career with the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals from 1989 to 2005. He was a five-time All-Star, and he won the NL MVP award in 1997.
“I honestly see myself as an average guy,” Walker said. “And I’m good with average. But to stand on this stage right now and to tell you I’m feeling average would be a complete lie. My feet have not touched the ground all day.”
Simmons, 72, was only on the Hall of Fame ballot for one year after he was removed because he only received 3.7% of the vote. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by committee at the 2019 winter meetings. The 2020 induction ceremony was not held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simmons, a switch-hitting catcher and part-time infielder, batted .285 over 21 seasons with 248 home runs and 1,389 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves from 1968 to 1988.
Miller, who died in 2012 at 95, helped the Major League Baseball Players Association grow into one of the strongest unions in the United States. He was MLBPA executive director from 1966 to 1982 after previously resolving labor disputes for the United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers.
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