Athletes right to sit out

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Derek Jeter joined the New York Yankees just a week later following Mariano Rivera’s arrival back in the 1995 season.

Now Jeter hopes to follow Rivera as only the second unanimous selection to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, when voting ballots are announced tonight. Before Rivera’s unanimous selection last year on all 425 ballots sent in, the closest to near unanimous was Ken Griffey Jr. at 99.32 percent, falling three votes short, in 2016. Seventy-five percent of the vote is needed for enshrinement.

Jeter’s credentials are impeccable — 3,465 hits (sixth all-time), eight 200-hit seasons, .310 batting average, 1,923 runs scored, 14-time All-Star, five Gold Gloves and five World Series rings. His 3,000th hit was a home run at Yankee Stadium in 2011, and his final hit at the new venue was a game-winning single in 2014.

While Jeter is a no-brainer, alleged steroid-era childs Roger Clemens (59.5 percent on 2019 ballots), Barry Bonds (59.1%) are both gaining momentum as their eligibility window for election is closing.

Starting pitcher Curt Schilling (60.9%) could also be moving closer to election, while outfielder Larry Walker, who is in his 10th and final year of eligibility, is a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame.

Jeter’s election to Cooperstown could spur mammoth-sized crowds to the quaint village in excess of 80,000. He will be the Yankees’ biggest position player elected to the Hall since Mickey Mantle, who was inducted in 1974.

Other first-timers beside Jeter up for Cooperstown merit include pitchers Cliff Lee and Josh Beckett, outfielders Bobby Abreu and Alfonso Soriano, and first basemen Jason Giambi and Paul Konerko.

Catcher Ted Simmons and former MLBPA union chief Marvin Miller were earlier elected to the Hall by Today’s Modern Game Era committee.

n Prediction: The only question with Jeter will be 100% or 99.7% on the ballots. Schilling and Walker both could squeeze in; however, Clemens and Bonds both will have to wait another year, but they are ascending in the right direction before their eligibility expires on the writers’ ballots.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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