Top Highlights from Hall of Fame Induction in Cooperstownby Alex Kielar September 10, 2021 1 comment
After a long wait, fans, inductees, family, and everyone in between finally got to witness the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame members get inducted in. On the lawn outside the Clark Sports Center, one mile south of the hallowed Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., four new members with much different paths were inducted on Wednesday. Derek Jeter, of course, was a first-ballot inductee. Larry Walker lingered on the ballot and didn’t get the call until his tenth and final year. Ted Simmons was elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee 31 years after he retired, and Marvin Miller was posthumously voted in by the Veteran’s Committee nine years after his death. With all that in mind, let’s go through some of the best highlights from the ceremony.
Bernie Williams Performs National Anthem
Bernie Williams was a crucial member of the New York Yankees’ dynasty in the 1990s and early 2000s and of course one of Jeter’s teammates. So it was only right that the former All-Star outfielder played the National Anthem before the Induction Ceremony on electric guitar, which has been his second career following his baseball career. Accompanying Williams on the saxophone was former Billy Joel band member Richie Cannata. Despite an illustrious resume, Williams has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s unlikely that he will ever make it, but he certainly has what it takes to, one day, be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at least.
So fitting that Bernie Williams played the National Anthem on Jeter's day pic.twitter.com/NqApj2v4ur
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 8, 2021
Derek Jeter Acknowledges Yankee Fans
As soon the legendary shortstop was announced he was rained with “DE-REK JE-TER” chants. He acknowledged the crowd when he stepped to the podium to deliver his speech. As he was prepared to begin his speech, the large crowd of mostly Yankee faithful, was still chanting his name and cheering. So Jeter, naturally of course, started the speech saying, “Man, I forgot how good that feels.”
— Alex Kielar (@AlexKielar) September 10, 2021
Towards the end of his speech, the 14-time All-Star praised the fans for being a big part of his journey.
“Without question, you helped me get here as much as any individual I mentioned,” Jeter said. “You can’t be fooled. You’re passionate, loyal, knowledgeable, vocal, challenging, and supporting. There’s a huge responsibility that comes with wearing a Yankee uniform. Just because you have it on, doesn’t guarantee you anything. You have to earn it, and you demanded I earn it. Every single day, whether it was during the season or in the offseason, I felt as though I was representing you and I was representing all of New York. I wanted to prove to you I belonged and you kept pushing me to prove it over and over again.”
Jeter Throws Shade
When the 2000 World Series MVP was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, he was one vote shy of being unanimous. So, in the most humble way possible, Jeter threw a shot at the one voter who kept him off their ballot. Humble is his middle name.
“Thank you to the baseball writers – all but one of you – who voted for me.”
— The Recount (@therecount) September 8, 2021
Of course, there have been several other Hall of Famers in the past who should have been unanimous, but they weren’t. That was until Mariano Rivera was the first player to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame.
Larry Walker Will Never Forget This Moment
When the Canadian-born former outfielder walked to the podium, he took it all in. Walker had waited 10 long years to finally get the call to the hall. The pandemic made the wait even longer. The five-time All-Star took out his phone and snapped some shots of the crowd. All while exclaiming, “If you don’t mind, I don’t wanna forget this moment.”
Larry Walker brought out his cell phone to film the crowd at his own induction ceremony 😂
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 8, 2021
He certainly won’t and he deserved to take it all in. The 1997 National League MVP played 17 seasons with the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals. In his MVP season with the Rockies, Walker became the only player in major league history to record a .700 slugging percentage and steal 30 bases. Another top accolade for the three-time batting champion was when he became the first player in over 60 years to have a batting average of over .360 in three straight years from 1997 to 1999. He is the second-ever Canadian-born player to be inducted into the Hall, after former pitcher Fergie Jenkins was inducted in 1991, and the first inductee to go in with a Rockies hat on his plaque.
Walker also sported a Spongebob pin on his suit jacket, building off the Spongebob shirt he had been wearing when he got the call. That shirt currently sits in the Hall of Fame, which Walker loaned to.
Larry Walker is wearing a Spongebob pin during his Hall of Fame ceremony, and his matching shirt is now in the museum pic.twitter.com/gLvGnDHgC5
— The Baseball Newsletter (@bbletter) September 8, 2021
Legends Show Out
Not only were several of the Hall of Famers in attendance, but many of Jeter’s former teammates and mentors were as well. Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Reggie Jackson, and Willie Randolph, to name a few. But there were other legends outside of baseball that were there as well, including NBA legends Michael Jordan (and former minor leaguer) and Patrick Ewing.
— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) September 8, 2021
Simba Comments on Ever-Changing Game
Ted Simmons was voted in by the Modern Baseball Era Committee in December 2019. He became the first Hall of Fame inductee to have fallen off the BBWAA ballot after his first year of eligibility, when he garnered just 3.7% of the vote.
“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.”
Ted Simmons on his path to the Hall of Fame: "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."#STLCards pic.twitter.com/U1uluMu5m5
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) September 8, 2021
Known as “Simba” in his playing days, the former St. Louis Cardinal, Milwaukee Brewer, and Atlanta Brave gave his own perspective on where the current game is headed. Having experienced the many ebbs and flows of baseball history during his tenure, Simmons certainly has a clear understanding.
“For those of you who are concerned that our game has changed, it has,” he said. “Strikeout, walk, homer today is pretty much what you get. But our game can change back and, eventually, another George Brett will surface. He’ll hit .360, he’ll homer 40 times, he’ll drive in 160 runs, he’ll strike out 175 times, he’ll walk 100 times. His on-base percentage will be .420. Our game is fluid. Hitters will begin to defeat the defensive shifts, and the pendulum will shift back. The game evolves. It’s just a matter of time.”
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images