Hall of Fame: Live at 11 am ET; inductions 1:30

September 8th, 2021

Twenty-one months after it was first announced, the Class of 2020 will get its day in the Cooperstown sun.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum inducts , Marvin Miller, and into its hallowed Plaque Gallery today in Cooperstown, N.Y. It’s a unique Induction Ceremony more than 1 1/2 years in the making after it was postponed last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s ceremony was originally scheduled for late July before it was further delayed to allow time for more spectators to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

That means we’re in store for a very unique September induction ceremony, but some absolute legends are still ready to receive their plaudits. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.

Wait, the Class of 2020? Where is the Class of ‘21?

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) did not elect any new players to the Hall of Fame back in January, and so a ceremony that was originally expected to feature two Hall classes will instead feature just one.

Where will the Induction Ceremony be broadcast?

MLB Network will have live coverage of the event beginning at 11 a.m. ET, with the ceremony beginning at 1:30 p.m. MLB Network Radio will also broadcast the event, and MLB.com will have a live simulcast of the ceremony.

Where will the ceremony take place?

On the grounds of the Clark Sports Center on lower Susquehanna Avenue in Cooperstown, just one mile south of the Hall of Fame. The event will be held rain or shine, unless severe weather forces cancellation of the public event.

Lawn seating is unlimited and available free of charge (sunscreen is highly recommended, as the sprawling area has no protection from the sun). Shuttles will be available from the Hall of Fame to the ceremony site.

The Hall was originally planning on requiring tickets when New York State’s COVID-19 restrictions were still in place. Once those restrictions were lifted, the Hall no longer required tickets to Wednesday’s event, and there are no capacity restrictions for the lawn area. Keep an eye on whether this year’s ceremony, with Jeter front and center, challenges the induction crowd records of 82,000 (2007, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn) and the 55,000 who watched Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith gain admittance to the Plaque Gallery in 2019. More than 40,000 fans have attended four of the past five Induction Ceremonies.

How many Hall of Famers are expected to attend?

Twenty-nineteen featured a record 59 Hall of Famers (including that year’s class) in attendance for that year’s festivities. This year’s ceremony will feature fewer legends -- an estimated 34, including the Class of 2020 -- partly because of the ongoing pandemic and also due to the record number of Hall of Famers who passed away over the last 20 months. All-time catcher Johnny Bench announced last week that he contracted COVID-19 via a breakthrough case and will not be able to attend.

Which caps will the new Hall of Famers have on their plaques?

With Jeter and Walker, there truly wasn’t any question. Jeter will go in as a Yankee, the only team he played for across 20 big league seasons. Walker did enjoy a productive beginning to his career with the Expos (1989-94) and helped the Cardinals reach a World Series at the end of his career, but he will now become the Rockies’ first Hall of Famer.

Simmons owns a huge spot in Brewers lore after earning two All-Star Game nods in Milwaukee and helping the Crew make its only World Series appearance in 1982. But he’ll go in with a Cardinals cap thanks to the first 13 years of his career spent (and six All-Star nods earned) in St. Louis.

How was the Hall’s Class of 2020 selected?

Miller and Simmons were elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee (one of the Hall’s rotating Veterans’ Committees in December 2019. Simmons was named on 13 of 16 ballots (81.3%), while Miller, who passed away in 2012 at age 95, was named on 12 ballots to reach the exact threshold (75%) required for entry.

Jeter and Walker were elected by members of the BBWAA in January 2020. For entry into the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75% of ballots cast. Jeter narrowly missed joining his former teammate Rivera as the only players to be elected by the BBWAA unanimously, appearing on all but one of the 397 submitted ballots. Walker (76.6%) sweated through the exact opposite path to Cooperstown, getting in by mere percentage points in his 10th and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot.

Who are this year’s HOF award winners?

Legendary voice Al Michaels was the 2021 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence. Longtime Cardinals and Royals beat writer Dick Kaegel was the ‘21 recipient of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award (formerly the J.G. Taylor Spink Award) for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Michaels and Kaegel were given their awards along with ‘20 award winners Ken “Hawk” Harrelson (Frick), the late Nick Cafardo (BBWAA) and David Montgomery (Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award) at a ceremony back on July 24.

Which players are on the Hall horizon next year?

After a BBWAA shutout in 2021, plenty of big names will grace the Class of ‘22 ballot. None bigger than Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, who will all be entering their 10th and final year of BBWAA ballot eligibility. 

Schilling (71.1%) came closest in the last voting cycle, falling 16 votes shy of the 75% threshold for election. Schilling sent a letter to the Hall of Fame asking to be removed from the ‘22 ballot, admitting that he was “mentally done” with the process after several years of controversy surrounding off-field incidents that have likely kept him out of the Plaque Gallery. In July, the Hall’s board of directors denied Schilling’s request to be removed after a unanimous vote, meaning his name will be listed for consideration when the BBWAA votes this winter.

Bonds and Clemens are two of the most dominant players in AL/NL history, but, like Schilling, off-field transgressions could leave them on the outside looking in. Bonds was named on 61.8% of ballots in the last BBWAA voting cycle, while Clemens was named on 61.6%. Scott Rolen (52.9%), Billy Wagner (46.4%) and Todd Helton (44.9%) are other candidates looking to build momentum with BBWAA voters this winter.

On top of all those returning names, BBWAA voters will have big decisions to make with a couple newcomers to the ballot: David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez. Ortiz belted 541 career home runs and is possibly the greatest slugging designated hitter of all time (not to mention his many, many postseason heroics). Rodriguez is one of just four AL/NL hitters (alongside Henry Aaron, Albert Pujols and Willie Mays) with 600-plus homers and 3,000-plus hits but, like Bonds and Clemens, will carry baggage from performance-enhancing substances into his BBWAA candidacy.

This winter’s first-time eligible candidates will likely also include Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, Jimmy Rollins and Mark Teixeira.

Anything elese worth noting?

• Jeter’s longtime Yankees teammate, Bernie Williams, is scheduled to perform the national anthem on guitar.

• This January marked the first time since 2013 that the BBWAA did not elect a single player to the Hall, but nine candidates from that year’s ballot wound up earning election in subsequent years, either via the BBWAA vote or the Eras Committee process. This year’s shutout also followed a historically prolific period for the BBWAA from 2014-20 in which the voting body elected at least two Hall of Fame candidates in each year (and 22 total).

• Jeter is the 55th Hall of Fame player who spent his entire career with one team. He is also the 30th Yankee in the Hall (per the museum’s classification) and continues a big run for those dynastic late-1990s and early-2000s Bronx Bombers teams following the recent elections of Rivera and Joe Torre. Mussina also pitched for the Yankees, of course, but he went into the Hall without a cap logo and is classified as an Oriole in the museum’s records.