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A big sports Hall of Fame week

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Cooperstown, Springfield play host to induction festivities

I’m a sucker for Hall of Fame inductions. As someone with a real affection for sports history, I’ve always been drawn to the idea of these places that serve as repositories for the greats of a particular game. It’s fun to look back on brilliance.

And as far as that goes, last week was REALLY fun.

Due to the scheduling shifts necessitated by the ongoing pandemic, the sports world found itself in a unique position – not one, but two different Halls of Fame would be inducting their newest members with a few days of one another.

Baseball came first, with the folks in Cooperstown pushing their traditional late July induction weekend into a midweek September, landing on Sept. 8. Just a few days later, it was basketball’s turn as they welcomed their Class of 2021 to Springfield.

At the Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony. Class of 2020 honorees Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller were recognized. This would have been a shared induction, featuring the Class of 2021 as well, but no player on that ballot reached the requisite 75% voting threshold to get in.

The headliner is Jeter, of course. By any measure, he is a Hall of Fame player. He reached a number of inner circle-type milestones; his career hit total of 3,465 places him sixth all time, while his 1,923 runs scored put him at 11th. He drove in over 1,300 runs and drew nearly 1,100 walks. He hit 260 homers and 544 doubles while stealing 358 bases. His career slash line was .310/.377/.440; his career WAR is somewhere in the 70s, depending on your source. He’s got five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers and 14 All-Star nods. Oh, and he’s one of the most prolific postseason hitters of all time, managing a .308/.374/.465 line in the equivalent of a full season – 158 games, 734 plate appearances – and won five of the six World Series in which he played.

Larry Walker made it in his 10th and final turn on the ballot. His slash line is impressive as hell - .313/.400/.565. He has seven Gold Gloves and was the 1997 NL MVP. Injury issues kept him from huge career totals – 383 homers, 230 steals, over 1,300 RBI and runs scored – but advanced metrics rate him as one of 10-12 best right fielders of all time. He needed a big leap to get here, but he (and his delightful Spongebob shirt) made it.

Simmons was an elite hitting catcher with a lengthy and impressive career. He probably shouldn’t have had to wait for a committee vote to get in, but he’s in. And Marvin Miller has an argument as one of the most important figures in baseball history; it was under his guidance that the MLBPA became one of the strongest unions in the U.S.

Next up was basketball, with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame holding their 2021 ceremonies on Sept. 11. While this is traditionally the time of year for the Basketball Hall’s induction, it is skewed in its own way, taking place just a scant four months after the pandemic-delayed recognition of the 2020 class. Former Celtics great Paul Pierce headlined the Class of 2021 in Springfield this past weekend.

Pierce made it into the Hall in his first year of eligibility and deservedly so. His name appears all over the NBA’s all-time leaderboards. His 26,937 points place him 16th all-time in scoring. His 1,752 steals place him in the top 20 as well. Plus, he pulled down over 7,500 boards and dished over 4,700 assists along the way. He’s in the top 20 in games played and the top 10 in free throws made. Pierce was named an All-Star 10 times and made his way onto the All-NBA team four times (three third teams and one second). He also helped lead the Celtics to the 2008 title, winning Finals MVP along the way. Pierce played just over 1,100 of his 1,343 NBA games in Celtics green and is one of the franchise’s most iconic figures of the 21st century.

Chris Bosh’s career was cut abruptly short by medical issues that led to his final season happening at just 31. Still, he packed a lot of production into his 13 seasons. His rate stats are outstanding – 19.2 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and two assists – though the brevity of his career means that his raw totals don’t evoke the same kind of awe as other players. Bosh was a key part of Miami’s two titles, serving as the third man in the Heat’s Big Three. He made 11 All-Star teams … in a row. From the 2005-06 season until his too-soon retirement in 2015-16, he was named an All-Star every year.

Another Chris – Webber – made the Hall this year as well, albeit on his fifth ballot. Defensive stalwart Ben Wallace made it as well. They fill out the player inductee quartet.

They’re not alone, though. Bill Russell – already in as a player – was inducted as a coach. He was joined by coaches Rick Adelman and Jay Wright. On the women’s side of things, WNBA greats Lauren Jackson and Yolanda Griffith both made it in, along with a handful of other committee picks and contributors.

One week, two Hall of Fame inductions. Pretty impressive. Now, we get to wait and see who makes the cut for the respective Classes of 2022. Let’s just hope those ceremonies can go off as planned – this kind of induction bottleneck is fun … once. Cross your fingers that circumstances allow everyone to get back on schedule.

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 08:28

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