COOPERSTOWN, NY -- The big question surrounding a Baseball Hall of Fame induction day like no other was simple: How many people would show up?
You ask around in the days leading up to a ceremony a long time in the making. Ted Simmons, who retired in 1988, was tabbed by an era committee at the 2019 winter meetings, along with late labor pioneer Marvin Miller. A month later, they were joined in the Baseball Writers' Association of America balloting by last-chance candidate Larry Walker and first-timer/no-brainer Derek Jeter.
Jeter's selection had the folks at the Hall jazzed. When Jeter's New York Yankees teammate, Mariano Rivera, was inducted in the last ceremony -- on July 21, 2019, or 781 days before Wednesday -- an estimated 55,000 fans descended on Cooperstown, that idyllic little village in upstate New York. Jeter was one of them. That was the second-largest induction day crowd in history, trailing only the 82,000 on hand when Cal Ripken Jr. went into the Hall in 2007. Surely Jeter's crowd would race past that of Rivera, and Ripken's mark seemed to be in jeopardy.
Then ... everything happened, inside baseball and out, to all those associated with the Hall of Fame and to all the rest of us who are not. For the first time since the Hall of Fame