Induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is the highest honor any player can achieve in their career. For former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, it seems he’ll have to wait one more year for that moment.
The Hall of Fame announced this week that the 2020 induction ceremony will be postponed due to health and safety concerns. Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark stressed in the Hall’s press release that the decision was not an easy one:
"“Induction Weekend is a celebration of our National Pastime and its greatest legends, and while we are disappointed to cancel this incredibly special event, the Board of Directors’ overriding concern is the health and well-being of our new inductees, our Hall of Fame members, our wonderful fans, and the hundreds of staff it takes to present the weekend’s events in all of its many facets. We care deeply about every single person who visits Cooperstown. In heeding the advice of government officials as well as federal, state, and local medical and scientific experts, we chose to act with extraordinary caution in making this decision.”"
Jeter is one of four who were scheduled to be inducted this summer. Former Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker, former St. Louis Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons, and former MLBPA Executive Director Marvin Miller are set to join him.
All four will be honored during the 2021 ceremony which is scheduled to take place July 24-26.
Jeter was named on 99.7% of ballots this past voting cycle in his first year on the ballot. Walker was named on 76.6% of ballots in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Both Simmons and Miller were elected by the Veteran’s Committee.
Should the BBWAA elect anyone next year — no certainty given the names on the ballot — then they, too, would join Jeter’s induction ceremony. Former Yankees Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones, Andy Pettitte, and Bobby Abreu are all returning to the ballot. A.J. Burnett, Rafael Soriano, and Nick Swisher could all be on the ballot for the first time (none of three are likely to receive the 5% needed to remain on there longer than one year).
Cooperstown, New York — the home of the Hall of Fame — is a small town with a population less than 2,000. Each year thousands descend on the upstate town for the Hall of Fame ceremony. Some early estimates suggested that crowds could reach as high as 100,000 this summer for Jeter and Walker’s inductions. Both players were and are immensely popular with fans.
Postponing the event until next year is the right choice. MLB and the MLBPA are working hard to get games back on the schedule this year, but there remain plenty of questions about how to do so safely. If games happen this year they will almost certainly take place without fans in attendance. If we can’t get together to watch games, we shouldn’t be gathering together to celebrate the Hall of Fame.