As you know, New York Yankees icon Derek Jeter will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July with every possible vote except one. When the votes by the Baseball Writers Association of America were announced last month, Jeter was on 396 of 397 ballots.
Jeter himself didn’t seem the care. He was in. He wasn’t unanimous like longtime teammate Mariano Rivera, who became the first unanimous Hall of Famer last year. But there’s no special wing of Cooperstown for people who get 100 percent of the vote. Heck, it’s 2020, getting 396 people to agree on anything ain’t easy.
Even if Jeter didn’t care, the Internet doesn’t forget. So Tuesday when the BBWAA revealed all the ballots that voters elected to make public, the obvious question was there: Would the Hall of Fame voter who didn’t pick Jeter reveal him or herself?
The answer: Nope. Now there’s a good chance we’ll never know who it was.
We knew the results of 214 ballots before the BBWAA announcement, thanks to writers who revealed their picks in columns or on social media. Jeter was on all of those. An additional 101 ballots were part of the BBWAA reveal Tuesday. Jeter was on all of those too.
That leaves 82 ballots that are private — and one that doesn’t have a checkmark by Jeter’s name.
Why aren’t all Hall of Fame ballots public?
It would make sense that all BBWAA Hall of Fame ballots be made public. After all, every ballot for the year-end awards like MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year is made public.
In December 2016, BBWAA members voted 80-9 to make all Hall of Fame ballots public seven days after the results were announced. The Hall of the Fame rejected that vote, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported the following November, leaving us with the current setup.
The BBWAA will only make public ballots from voters who elect to make their ballots public.
Does it matter that Derek Jeter wasn’t unanimous?
None of this actually matters in a very practical sense. It’s not like Derek Jeter fell short at 74.9% and one vote would have gotten him in. In that case, there would have been plenty of unchecked ballots.
There was no way Jeter wasn’t getting in on the first ballot, so the question of whether he was unanimous is all optics. And if Jeter doesn’t really care — if you take him at his word — then you shouldn’t care all much either.
The more interesting issue is the mechanics of it all. Fact is, we didn’t get a unanimous Hall of Fame until the ballots became public. The more-transparent voting meant increased pressure on voters not to mail it in — because fans will call them out if they do, particularly on Twitter.
On the flip side, the Twitter police are probably why this one voter didn’t make his or her ballot public.
This BBWAA reveal was probably the last chance for the Jeter Objector to be revealed. Ken Griffey Jr. famously fell short of 100% by three votes in 2016. In the four years that have followed, we haven’t learned the identities of those voters either.
Unless there’s a book to come someday titled “Why I didn’t give a Hall of Fame vote to Derek Jeter,” — which isn’t out of the question in 2020 — we’ll probably never get an answer.
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