Will Derek Jeter Be Baseball's First Unanimous Hall Of Fame Choice? Sorry, No
As Derek Jeter nears the end of his farewell tour, it's time to glance five years into the future an imagine him in the Hall of Fame. The only question there is this: will he be the first player to get there by unanimous vote?
As you're no doubt aware, no player has ever made it to the HOF unanimously. It's baseball's everlasting black mark -- an indictment that proves its HOF voting is somewhat of a joke. But can Jeter -- whose playing credentials are impeccable and is revered as a humanitarian and all-around swell guy -- break the spell? Don't bet on it.
Hank Aaron got 97.83 percent of the vote when he was inducted in 1982 -- he was left of nine of the 424 ballots that year. Even accounting for racists and morons, and moron racists, that's nine too many. Babe Ruth, the man who revolutionized hitting, was also a superstar pitcher and quite possibly saved the very game? He got 95.13 percent -- absent from 11 ballots. Joe DiMaggio? 88.84 percent. Joe Freaking DiMaggio. What did he ever do to offend anyone? How many disgruntled Marilyn Monroe fans could there have been in 1955?
In 1979, 21 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America deemed that Willie Mays was not worthy of being in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He got 94.68 percent of the vote. Of course these stats are nothing new -- all one has to do to get a HOF vote is to be a member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years. With that as the only criteria, there are many dingbats who could slip through the cracks, and evidently have.
HOF voting has been been a vehicle for writers to make political statements since it began in 1932. And since voters are allowed to consider off-the-field factors when making their decisions, it's really no mystery why players like Ruth, Ty Cobb and Frank Robinson didn't get in unanimously. Guys are left off for a variety of stupid reasons. Greg Maddux, who got 97.2 percent of the vote as part of the 2014 class, was notoriously left off of one writer's ballot because, he said, he wouldn't vote for any player from the steroid era.
But that doesn't explain why Tom Seaver didn't get every vote. The three-time Cy Young Award winner led the National League in ERA three times, led in strikeouts five times, had a and in strikeouts five times, had a 311-205 career record and had an outstanding reputation off the field. But he received 98.84 percent the first year he was eligible -- being left off of five ballots. That;s a record-high HOF percentage, but it ain't 100 percent.
Because, tradition. Some writers obviously feel that if no player so far has been a unanimous choice, no player on their watch will be, either. Is it a widespread conspiracy? I have a tough time believing that the voters arrange a secret meeting each year and draw straws to see who will be the asshole who doesn't vote for Maddux. Rather it's probably just a given that there will be five or more pinheads who just come up with a half-baked reason not to vote for somebody.
Jeter will get caught up in this as well. Maybe it will be one or two writers who didn't like his Gatorade commercial. Or perhaps someone disapproves of the women he dates. Who knows? Just don't expect it to be unanimous.
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