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Derek Jeter really is only legit first-year Hall of Fame candidate

By Alan Greenwood - Staff Writer | Dec 4, 2019

Alan Greenwood

In recent years, the first-year candidates on Baseball Hall of Fame ballots has resembled the 2020 field of Democratic primary candidates – lots of names, a handful of them legit contenders.

The 2020 Hall of Fame ballot has a single name that is a slam-dunk for immediate induction, trailed by a parade of wanna-bes.

And if folks out there question Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame bona fides, they need to check their Red Sox caps at the door and do some

serious reconsideration.

Jeter is the personification of the theory that Hall of Famers’ worthiness goes beyond their OPS. Mention Jeter’s name here and one play immediately comes to mind:

In the seventh inning in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Jason Giambi singled, setting the stage. Terrence Long drilled a sure double down the right-field line. Shane Spencer chased down Long’s ball in the corner and proceeded to overthrow his cut-off men.

Jeter burst onto the scene about 30 feet down the first-base line to intercept the errant throw. His backhand flip to catcher Jorge Posada nipped Giambi at the plate.

Now Giambi was not exactly a speed demon, and many big-league outfielders had already established that hitting cut-off men was a fast-dying art. But if there has been a remotely similar play since, please forward the YouTube link. It turned out to be a defensive play, designed by Don Zimmer, that the Yankees practiced. But considering the context – it preserved a 1-0 Yankees lead that held up for the win – it was a gem that became historic.

Jeter’s numbers are readily available for study and quite sufficient for his election to the Hall of Fame, not to mention five Gold Gloves and five World Series rings. But anyone who simply appreciates pure ballplayers – as opposed to those banking on sheer athleticism – understands why Jeter belongs in the Hall.

AND THE OTHERS: This voter’s Hall of Fame ballot continues to include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling.

The thinking behind these picks can be neatly summarized:

Major League Baseball had its opportunity to toss the first three candidates onto the permanently ineligible list with Pete Rose. It chose not to. They are on the ballot. Their performance should take precedence.

As for Schilling, he is a self-righteous, pompous, bloviating gasbag, but he is also one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time.

TIME TRAVEL: Dec. 5, 1959 – Fred Dobens’ “Around the Town” column featured a note on Nashua High’s most celebrated coach.

“Holy Cross, under Eddie Anderson, hasn’t been doing well in late years and we have wondered why they don’t make an offer to Buzz Harvey to take over the Cross grid team.

“He was one of the immortals at the Cross, has a record that is the envy of most coaches in his profession and his teams play to win. Harvey, many feel, could do as well in college coaching ranks as he does in high school.

“Most good coaches, anyway, come up from high school ranks. Look at Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns.

“The Buzzer deserves a crack at the Cross situation someday. Holy Cross’ gain, of course, would be Nashua’s loss. That is about the only way he would ever leave Nashua.”

Dobens nailed that one. Harvey coached the Purple Panthers through 1968 and remained Nashua High’s athletic director for several years beyond that before retiring.

Contact Alan Greenwood at 594-1248 or agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com.


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