Big Yankee, Plus Halladay, 2 More
Could Draw Biggest Crowd, Katz Says
BY LIBBY CUDMORE
COOPERSTOWN – Jeff Katz thinks that this will be a record-breaking year in Cooperstown.“With Mariano Rivera getting in, I think it’s very likely we’ll break the all-time attendance record,” he said.
Rivera, a career Yankees pitcher, was the first to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously by the 425 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
“A high-profile Yankee is always big, and he’s the first guy from that great team to get in. I think it will be a big tip-off from what we can expect for Derek Jeter in 2020,” Katz said.
Other members of the Class of 2019, announced Tuesday, Jan. 22, are Philadelphia Philly pitcher Roy Halladay, Seattle
Mariner designated hitter Edgar Martinez, and Baltimore Oriole pitcher Mike Mussina.
“When (Rivera) was on the hill with his signature cutter in tow, it was lights out, game over,” said Jeff Idelson, Baseball Hall of Fame president. “He’ll be the last player to enter with the #42 jersey, so we will see you – and most of New York – in Cooperstown.”
“There’s been a reticence to have anyone on the ballot get 100 percent of the vote,” said Katz. “It’s kind of amazing that he got that; not even Hank Aaron or Willie Mays received 100 percent of the vote. It’s all very silly, and I doubt Rivera will be the last, now that that logjam’s been broken.”
Mussina will add to the gate, said Katz: “Baltimore tends to come out for their people. Cal Ripkin was the biggest Hall of Fame Induction, so we’ll see.”
Mussina is a five-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner, and was inducted with 76 percent of the ballot, on his fifth try. “He pitched with attitude and latitude,” said Idelson.
“He’s overdue,” said Katz.
But for all of the excitement, Idelson also recognized Halladay’s induction is bittersweet. “It’s with a heavy heart and great joy that I welcome Roy Halladay to Cooperstown,” he said. “Brandy, Braden and Ryan, I know you’re proud.”
On Nov. 7, 2017, Halladay died when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He received 85 percent of the ballots cast.
And at his last time on the ballot, Martinez got 85 percent of the ballot to capture his place in the Hall of Fame.
“There’s big cause to appreciate what he did as a designated hitter,” said Katz. “There’s been this debate about whether a designated hitter is a worthy thing. Well, that debate is over.”
Martinez was a seven-time MLB All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and two-time batting champion. To date, he is the only designated hitter ever to have won a batting title, winning it in 1995 with a .356 average.
The four will join relief pitcher Lee Smith and White Sox designated hitter Harold Baines, who will be inducted as part of the Today’s Game ballot. Notably, Yankees owner and manager George Steinbrenner received fewer than five votes from the 16 member Today’s Game committee, denying him a chance to be enshrined at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Induction Weekend will be held July 19-22, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 21.
“It’s a good class,” said Katz. “We’ll see a good cross-section of fans.”