Beyond the Bison: “Baseball Immortality”

Justin Schaumberger, Sports Co-Editor

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is a shrine to the generations of storied athletes who have excelled at the sport. On Wednesday Sept. 8, a new group of outstanding players joined the list of 329 inductees to have their legacy forever enshrined in Cooperstown. The four individuals elected into the Hall of Fame were Marvin Miller, Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons and Larry Walker. 

Getting voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is an exclusive feat that many do not achieve. In order to get inducted, a candidate must receive 75 percent of the possible votes. The voting is done by a select group of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) and no writer can give more than 10 votes on a given ballot. This makes it extremely difficult for candidates to be elected into the Hall of Fame. In fact, only about one percent of all Major Leaguers to ever play have made it to the Hall of Fame and the class of 2021 did not consist of any players, coaches, executives or umpires. 

Among the group of four individuals elected in the class of 2020, the ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19, were three players and one executive. Marvin Miller was a driving force behind obtaining rights for baseball players. As the executive director of the Major League Players Association, Miller helped the players negotiate their first collective bargaining agreement and secured a future for the pension fund. Despite becoming eligible on the ballot in 2003, it took until 2020 for Miller to receive the 75 percent of votes necessary to become a Hall of Famer. To many, Miller should’ve reached the 75 percent threshold long before. “Miller should be in the Hall of Fame if the players have to break down the door to get him in,” said baseball legend Henry “Hank” Aaron. Sadly, Miller passed away in 2012 and never got to see himself become elected. However, his legacy will forever be enshrined for the baseball world to remember.  

Similarly to Miller, Larry Walker’s election into the Hall of Fame was also long overdue. Walker, a Rockies legend, played a 16 year career that saw him make the All-Star team five times, win seven gold glove awards, three batting titles, and an MVP trophy in 1997. Walker became eligible on the ballot in 2011, but had never received more than 40 percent of the vote up until 2020.

Ted Simmons was the oldest player elected into the hall of fame in the class of 2020 having played most of his career in the 70s and 80s. A switch hitting catcher, Simmons hit for power and average and was a consistent player across his 20 year playing career. Simmons played the majority of his career for the St. Louis Cardinals who have since retired his number 23. Simmons received numerous MVP votes throughout his career, but was never able to receive enough to win the award. Despite that, Simmons was an eight time All-Star and retired as one of the best hitting catchers of his time. 

The most famous player from the class, Derek Jeter served as the shortstop for the New York Yankees for 19 seasons. He is one of the only 32 players to reach 3000 career hits and his 200 career postseason hits is 72 more than any other player ever. The five time World Series Champion was an All-Star 14 times and was the World Series MVP in 2000. His number 2 is also retired by the New York Yankees. Jeter was also close to becoming the second player in history to become unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame. Jeter received 396 of a possible 397 votes on the 2020 ballot. The great Michael Jordan said, “I don’t think anybody can say one thing bad about Derek. He is a complete champion. He carries himself like every professional baseball player, or professional athlete, should.”

All of the members of the class of 2020 had a storied impact on the history of baseball in their own way. They are are now enshrined forever in Cooperstown where their achievements and legacies will never be forgotten. 

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