It was on this day back in 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson, and Walter Johnson. The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame–thought by many to be the centennial of baseball–the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound. Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball. It has elected 329 people, including 232 former Major League Baseball players, 35 Negro league baseball players and executives, 22 managers, 10 umpires, and 30 pioneers, executives, and organizers. 

Derek Jeter and Larry Walker will soon be the newest members of the Hall of Fame. The two will officially be welcomed into the Hall on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y, when the two Modern Baseball Era Committee selections — catcher Ted Simmons and the late players’ union head Marvin Miller — will also be honored. Those superstars of the game who are still not in the Hall include Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds, who all only have two years left to gain 75% of the vote. Also continuing to battle and find a place in Cooperstown are Gary Sheffield, Todd Helton, Manny Ramírez, Jeff Kent, Andruw Jones, Sammy Sosa, and Andy Pettitte all who now seem like distant longshots! Keep in mind, several other baseball legends are not in the Hall of Fame including Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Thurman Munson, Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, and Dave Parker.   

Larry Walker the power-hitting outfielder for the Colorado Rockies barely got the number of votes required to get into this elite club. Also, keep in mind, this was Walker’s last attempt to get in. Thankfully just enough of the writers checked Walker’s name in his 10th and final year to push him above the 75-percent threshold. Walker is just the second Canadian-born player — joining pitcher Ferguson Jenkins — to be elected into the Hall of Fame, and becomes the first player to have ever worn a Rockies jersey to reach the Hall. He’s also just the seventh player to get in on his final ballot.

Derek Jeter, on the other hand, received a nod from all but one of the 397 voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in his first year of eligibility. It’s hard for me to imagine the one writer who didn’t cast a vote for Jeter? Many historians say Jeter became the game’s most marketable player during a career that spanned from 1995 through 2014, and the Yankees watched their revenue go from $200 million to $7 billion. He is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits (3,465), doubles (544), games played (2,747), stolen bases (358), times on base (4,716). Keep in mind, Jeter was named the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, who went on to become a five-time World Series winner, a 14-time All-Star, posting a career batting average of .321, and accumulating 3,465 career hits (sixth all-time). Through it all, he made $269 million with the Yankees, which is why he had more than enough in the fall of 2017 to invest $25 million into becoming a partial owner of the Marlins as well as the team’s CEO. 

Derek Jeter was born in 1974 in Pequannock Township, New Jersey, the son of accountant Dorothy and a substance abuse counselor Sanderson Charles Jeter. His mother is of English, German, and Irish ancestry, while his father is African-American. They met while serving in the United States Army in Germany. His father played baseball at the small Fisk University in Tennessee as a shortstop and holds a PhD. When Jeter was a child, his parents made him sign a contract every year that defined acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior, goals, and objectives. His mother Dorothy is said to have instilled a positive attitude in her son, insisting that he not use the word “can’t”. It was a baseball family, and Jeter’s younger sister Sharlee was a softball star in high school. At age five Jeter began playing little league baseball. The children lived with their parents during the school year and spent their summers with their grandparents in downtown New Jersey. Attending New York Yankees games with his grandparents, Jeter became a passionate fan of the team and inspired him to become a baseball player. Talk about chasing your dreams!

Jeter certainly goes down as one of my all-time favorites. I’ve heard him talk on several occasions and personally know several players he played with through the years. They all say the same thing… “he worked insanely hard, pushed himself beyond the limits, and was a great teammate.” I heard him once tell a small group of us at a meeting that his goal was to simply have one “perfect inning”. Take the field just right, make the right break on the ball, make the right throw, have just the right at-bat, communicate perfectly with his teammates, etc… In other words, he said it was next to impossible to even have the perfect inning but he would continue to keep striving and pushing himself. I thought it was awesome to hear someone so great break his goal down to something so simple… just one perfect inning. But again, isn’t that what greatness is, taking the complex and making it simple! I tip my hat to greatness. We all only really get one pitch to hit, we have to make it count! 

3 Short Inspirational Derek Jeter Videos… Click HERE

Billy Crystal’s Emotional Tribute to Derek Jeter… Click HERE

Fans Saying Thank You to A Great Man!… Click HERE

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