Whether you lovingly considered him your captain or thought he was overrated, no one can deny Derek Jeter’s place in baseball history. While the former New York Yankee’s entry into Cooperstown was recently confirmed, there was a catch. Once the ballots were counted, Jeter fell one vote short of a unanimous entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
While many baseball fans hoped to learn who cast that one infamous ballot, that won’t be the case. It now seems like we’ll never know who didn’t consider Derek Jeter a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career
Sometimes, destiny seems to take over and guide things to an unavoidable conclusion. Derek Jeter’s time with the New York Yankees appears to have been written in the stars.
During childhood visits to his grandparents in New Jersey, Jeter would watch Yankees games; he even visited their ballpark in the Bronx to take in some games in person. It was at that point that he decided to make baseball a career.
Jeter shone as a high school baseball player, receiving attention from both Major League clubs and big-name colleges. Once again, though, destiny intervened. Despite recommendations from their scouting department, the Houston Astros decided against drafting the shortstop; the New York Yankees, of course, would pick him instead.
While Derek Jeter’s road to the pros wasn’t easy, he eventually reached the Bronx and took over the starting job. The Yankees won the World Series during his first year in the big leagues; Jeter was also named the American League Rookie of the Year that season. The shortstop would spend his entire career in pinstripes, becoming team captain, piling up 3,465 hits, batting .310, and winning five World Series titles.
Falling one vote short of Hall of Fame perfection
On January 21, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class. While no one was surprised to see Derek Jeter heading to Cooperstown, there was one unexpected turn; the Yankees’ captain received 396 of 397 possible votes. While fans have been wondering who the lone dissenter was, his or her identity doesn’t seem like it will be revealed.
While the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) has moved for transparency in recent years, not every ballot is publically available. The Hall of Fame’s board of directors instead decided to give the electors a choice; on each ballot, you can check off a box indicating if you want your votes to be shared with the world.
On Tuesday, the BBWAA released its results, sharing 315 of the total ballots. Unsurprisingly, the one submission that didn’t include Derek Jeter wasn’t included. If we ever find out who that voter was, they’ll have to reveal it themself; based on the public reaction to their choice, though, that doesn’t seem too likely.
Don’t let the process take away from Derek Jeter, though
When the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame results were first announced, Derek Jeter’s 396 votes became the talk of the sports world. While that’s completely understandable—fans love nothing more than arguing a player’s pros and cons—it misses the point.
Induction into the hall of fame is supposed to honor a player as one of the greats; it’s also an opportunity for fans to reminisce and pay tribute to their heroes. Derek Jeter’s enshrinement in Cooperstown should be about the things that made him a sporting icon, not about one writer who chose not to check off a box on a slip of paper. Jeter wasn’t the first player to fall short of a unanimous election, and he won’t be the last.
From now until Hall of Fame Weekend, we’ll surely hear plenty about that one infamous ballot. That vote, however, shouldn’t overshadow Derek Jeter and his career.