Longtime New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter waves at the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the class of 2020 Wednesday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Thirty-one Hall of Famers and thousands of fans welcomed Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Jeter, a five-time World Series champion, headlined the ceremony for the 2020 class, which was delayed twice due to COVID-19.
"To this day I remember each time I was doubted," Jeter said in his enshrinement speech. "I made, and still make, a mental note. I'm going to prove doubters wrong.
"It's what drove me and still drives me today."
Jeter, 47, spent his entire 20-year MLB tenure with the New York Yankees. The former shortstop claimed American League Rookie of the Year honors and his first World Series in 1996. He also won championships in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009.
The longtime Yankees captain claimed five Gold Glove awards and often elevated his play in the postseason.
Jeter, who now co-owns the Miami Marlins, retired in 2014. He posted 3,465 hits 260 home runs, 358 stolen bases and a .310 batting average in 2,737 career appearances. His 2,674 appearances at shortstop are the second-most in history, trailing Omar Vizquel.
"I had one goal during my career: to win more than everyone else. And we did," Jeter said.
Jeter received 99.7% of the vote in 2020, the second highest percentage in history for a position player. The Baseball Writers Association of America voted Walker into Cooperstown in his 10th and final year of eligibility.
Walker became the first former Colorado Rockies player and second Canadian-born player inducted, joining Ferguson Jenkins.
"I share this honor with every Canadian," Walker said. "I hope that all Canadians kids, that have dreams of playing in the big leagues, see me here today and this gives you another reason to go after those dreams."
Walker, 54, spent 10 of his 17 seasons with the Colorado Rockies. He made his MLB debut in 1989 with the Montreal Expos. Walker ended his career in 2005 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The former right fielder and third baseman was a five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner.
Walker hit .366 with with 49 home runs and 130 RBIs to win National League MVP honors in 1997. He posted MLB's best batting average in 1998, 1999 and 2001. Walker totaled 2,160 hits, 383 home runs and hit .313 in 1,988 games.
"I've never considered myself a Hall of Famer at anything. I honestly see myself as an average guy. I'm good with average. I've lived my life trying to never get too high or too low. But to stand on the stage and tell you I feel average would be a complete lie.
"My feet haven't touched the ground all day."
Simmons, a longtime St. Louis Cardinals catcher, waited 25 years for induction. Miller, a former executive director of the players association, was inducted posthumously. He died in 2012.
The Modern Baseball Era Committee elected Simmons and Miller.
"Even though my path fell on the longer side, I would not change a thing," Simmons said. "However we get here, none of us arrives alone."
Simmons, 72, was an eight-time All-Star. The switch hitter spent 13 of his 21 seasons with the Cardinals. He also played for the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves.
He recorded 2,472 hits, 248 home runs and a .285 batting average in 2,456 games.
Miller was the director of the players union from 1966 to 1982. He was the union's first full-time representative and credited for fighting for major increases in minimum salaries, free agency, arbitration and leading players through work stoppages.
Don Fehr, another former director of the players union, spoke on Miller's behalf.
"By the time he retired, his accomplishments were already legendary," Fehr said of Miller. "He was easily the most practical person I ever saw in the context of labor relations.
"He realized that in the end, an agreement takes two parties and it's not some sort of ideological manifesto."
The 2020 class was finalized in January 2020 and scheduled for enshrinement six months later, but the ceremony was postponed to July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials announced a second postponement in June to allow for fans to attend.
The 2021 Hall of Fame class was scheduled for a dual induction, but none of the players on the 2021 ballot reached the 75% threshold needed for enshrinement in Cooperstown. That marked the first time since 1960 that no players were elected by the writers or veterans committee.
The 2022 class is scheduled for enshrinement on July 24, 2022. David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins are among the players who will be eligible for the first time next year. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa enter their final year of eligibility.
"This is a game that requires sacrifice, dedication discipline of focus," Jeter said. "It's a game of failure. It teaches you teamwork. It teaches you humility."
Hall of Famer Derek Jeter speaks after being inducted into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Wednesday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo