On Facebook yesterday, the MLB Fan Cave put up a picture of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter with this question for the fans: "Will New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter be the first player unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame?"
As you might have guessed, that question attracted tons of responses, many of which were from Yankee fans no doubt, who thought overwhelmingly yes, Jeter would be the first.
They are in for a rude awakening five years after Jeter calls it quits: he will NOT get every vote.
Many fans like me thought he would not and gave resonable explanations as to why he won't, but the question garnered some really airheaded responses, like these:
100% yes....anyone who thinks otherwise, love or hate the Yankees, does NOT know baseball.
No, prolly get 95% of the vote and that is unfortunate but reality.
Sorry to say no , Boston has a B.A.A. writer with a vote , and will not vote for him on Jeters first time on ballot , just out of spite,like they did on the M.V.P.!! Kinda makes this guy look like an IDIOT though when everbody else will & and Jeter gets elected to H.O.F. on his first try!!He should. But some jealous Red Sox writer will vote no.
Jeter will be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. I don't think there is any doubt about that. I won't list his accomplishments here, but most are Hall of Fame-worthy. (Forget the Gold Gloves he won; they were given to him as birthday presents. He wasn't the best AL shortstop in any of those years he was given them.)
But I just know that in the months leading up to Jeter being on the ballot for the first time, MLB Fan Cave's question will be the subject of much speculation (assuming no one has done it in the years leading up to it). But it won't happen, and for various reasons.
Derek Jeter is not the greatest all-around SS in MLB history. I would rank Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken and Ernie Banks ahead of him for sure, and some might include Ozzie Smith above him, too. Jeter has his detractors in the media, and some will have votes when he is eligible. Is there an anti-NY or anti-Yankees bias among some voters? Possibly. And there are just some writers who will NOT vote for a slam-dunk candidate in his first year of eligibilty, no matter who he is.
This got me thinking, that if no one has ever been elected unanimously, how did some of the all-time greats do?
Tom Seaver holds the record for the highest percentage of the HoF vote in history, with 98.84%. When he was elected in 1992, there were five writers, for whatever reason, did not vote for him. Four writers left Ty Cobb off in 1936. Nine left Henry Aaron off in 1982, 13 left Tony Gwynn off in 2007, and astoundingly, 11 left Babe Ruth, who I consider MLB's all-time greatest player, off in 1936.
And some other really all-time greats were left off even more ballots (of course, some years have had many more ballots cast than others): Ted Williams was left off 20, Stan Musial 23, Willie Mays 23, Joe DiMaggio 28 (he wasn't even elected on the first ballot), Roberto Clemente 31, Mickey Mantle 43, Sandy Koufax 52, Yogi Berra 57, Ernie Banks 62, Bob Gibson 64, Warren Spahn 65.
Walter Johnson, considered by many the greatest pitcher of all-time, was left off 37 ballots in 1936, and received only 83.6% of the vote. An amazing 16.7% of writers deemed him not worthy.
Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente were both elected in special votes, as both died in the primes. But neither of them were elected unanimously. Here is the complete list of Hall of Famers and the votes they got, courtesy of Baseball Almanac.
So maybe if some of these nitwit Yankee fans were to see the list, they might realize that even some of those Yankees already enshrined in Cooperstown were left off tons of ballots. So if Jeter is left off a few, for whatever reason, it's no big deal. He will probably get elected with between 90-95% of the vote. It will certainly be interesting to see what the final tally for him will be when the time comes.
Consider this scenario. When Jeter is eligible, there could be about 520 writers eligible to vote. If 26 decide not to vote for him, he still would have received exactly 95% of the vote, and that would be good for 13th highest in HoF history. But knowing these Yankee fans as I do, they'll be pissed off at those 26 who passed him over, and consider that an act of treason of some kind. No one will ever be elected unanimously, no matter how great any player is in his era, there will be writers who won't vote for him. It's been that way down through history.
Yeah, many sportswriters are total nitwits. And yeah, a handful will not vote for Jeter. Who cares. I'm sure Jeter won't when it happens. But those Yankee fans. Jeesh. I'm sure there will be loud screeching from them on the writers who don't vote for him.
The worshiping and genuflecting at the Altar of Captain Tange will never end.