It had been among the worst traditions in sports, and the word “dumb” is not too strong a description either.
Until this past January when Mariano Rivera final broke through, there had never been a unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Deserved, obviously, as there was nothing in Rivera’s resume remotely disqualifying.
There, of course, wasn’t anything disqualifying on the resumes belonging to Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson . . . well, the list goes on and on. And none of those iconic players – and plenty of others – were unanimous picks though they should have been.
And now it could be two years in a row as 2020 presents the very real possibility of another unanimous selection because Derek Jeter makes his debut on the ballot.
The former Yankees shortstop, who retired after the 2014 season, will present voters with another resume without holes and it’s difficult to imagine — though not 100 percent impossible — someone leaving him off their ballot.
Though the Hall doesn’t compel it, just about every ballot is now made public and the backlash a voter would receive on social media for leaving Jeter off likely will prove prohibitive. That no doubt played a role in Rivera’s breakthrough of being named on all 425 ballots.
“Something I never thought I would see,” BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell said in January of the unanimous vote.
And something very likely to be seen again next January.
WHO'S WITH JETER?
Some first-time eligibles in 2020:
Bobby Abreu: Had 2,477 hits in 18 seasons with six teams. A .291 hitter with 574 doubles and 288 home runs.
Josh Beckett: Key in rotations that helped both the Marlins (2003) and Red Sox (2007) win the World Series. Had a 3.88 ERA in 14 seasons, and a 138-106 record. Won 20 games in 2007, finishing second in the Cy Young voting.
Eric Chavez: From 2001 through 2006, was a Gold Glove third baseman for Oakland. In 17 seasons with three teams, hit .268 and slugged .475.
Adam Dunn: Dunn totaled 462 homers in 14 seasons, eight with the Reds. He hit 40 or more homers in five straight seasons yet never led the league in that category. He's third on MLB's career strikeouts list with 2,379. The two players ahead of him — Reggie Jackson and Jim Thome — are both in the Hall of Fame.
Rafael Furcal: The 2000 NL Rookie of the Year as Braves shortstop. In 14 seasons, was a .281 hitter with 314 stolen bases.
Jason Giambi: Won the 2000 AL MVP as the A's first baseman with .333 BA, 43 HRs, 137 RBIs, 108 runs, and a MLB-best 137 walks and .476 on-base percentage. Five-time All-Star totaled 440 HRs in 20 seasons, including seven with the Yankees.
Paul Konerko: A first baseman who spent 16 of his 18 seasons with the White Sox, had 439 HRs, and was a .279 hitter. Six-time All-Star also drove in 100 or more runs six times.
Cliff Lee: Won AL Cy Young Award in 2008 with league-best 2.54 ERA and MLB-best 22 wins. In his final seven seasons, his highest ERA was 3.65 (his final year in 2014).
Alfonso Soriano: The outfielder's 54 home runs to lead off a game is second in MLB behind Rickey Henderson (81). A seven-time All-Star who totaled 412 HRs and 289 steals over 16 seasons. One of four players in the 40/40 club (40 HRs, 40 steals in the same season). One of four players to hit at least 30 HRs for four teams.