Among the silliest “traditions” in all of sports finally ended last year when Mariano Rivera became the first player to be unanimously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
That it took that long for the dam to break – obviously, that should have occurred a long time ago with any number of players; Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, etc. – never was a good look for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which votes on Hall of Fame candidates.
Regardless, it now appears as if it very well may happen a second straight year, this time with one of Rivera’s Core Four teammates: Derek Jeter.
In figures accumulated by Hall of Fame ballot tracker Ryan Thibodaux (Twitter: @NotMrTibbs), Jeter had been named on all 163 made public as of Saturday afternoon, or 41.3% of the electorate. This year’s announcement will take place on Tuesday.
Rivera, named on all 425 ballots submitted in 2019, has said during various public appearances since then that he firmly believes Jeter should and will join him in that exclusive club.
Some of Rivera’s most recent comments on the matter came Thursday at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville, where he attended a zoning hearing on the proposal for an auto dealership in Port Jefferson Station.
“Definitely, definitely,” Rivera told Newsday’s Carl MacGowan afterward. “Jeter, he’s my brother. It will be good. He will be No. 2 — his number.''
For Rivera, there’s no doubt Jeter belongs in baseball’s most exclusive club. "He already is for me,'' he told Newsday. "I don’t vote, but he is 100% for me.”
Jeter, a 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series winner, retired after the 2014 season with 3,465 career hits, which ranks him sixth in MLB history. Like Rivera's, Jeter’s resume has no holes in it. Neither did the Hall resumes of the players mentioned above, though, along with a slew of others who should have been unanimous selections.
Still, with most ballots made public now – it’s not compulsory for voters to publicize them but pretty much all do – the possibility of a social media beating for leaving Rivera off played a role in his being named on every ballot. That likely also will be the case with Jeter, 45, who is entering his third full season as the CEO of the Marlins.
Jeter has sounded like the player version of himself when addressing his Hall of Fame prospects, never mind his chances of being unanimous. Without question, he will be voted into the Hall on the first ballot, but he wouldn’t even cop to that.
“I try not to think about it, I try not to talk about it," Jeter said in late November at his team’s annual Thanksgiving food drive event, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I don’t want to jinx any opportunities I may have. I’ve played my last games and there’s really not much else I can do.
"I was fortunate to play a very long career and I played on successful teams. My career’s over with now and I’m focused with what I’m doing in Miami. But every player that plays the game, [the Hall of Fame] is the ultimate honor.”
How Newsday voted:
Six Newsday staffers have BBWWA voting priviledges. Their 2020 ballots:
ERIK BOLAND: (10) Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.
DAVID LENNON: (3) Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens.
STEVE POPPER: (8) Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker, Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones.
ANTHONY RIEBER: (1) Derek Jeter.
ROGER RUBIN: (4) Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling.
HANK WINNICKI: (4) Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling.