Derek Jeter came within one vote of being a unanimous pick for the Hall of Fame, and Larry Walker also earned baseball's highest honor Tuesday.
Jeter, the longtime New York Yankees captain, appeared on 396 of 397 ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, falling just shy of the standard set last year when longtime Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous selection. Jeter's 99.7 voting percentage moved above Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3%) for the second highest.
It was not immediately known which voter didn't choose Jeter, who was listed on all 219 ballots made public by Ryan Thibodaux's vote tracker before the announcement. The BBWAA will release additional ballots on Feb. 4 of writers who chose a public listing.
"Well, I look at all the votes that I got," Jeter said. "Trying to get that many people to agree on something is pretty difficult to do. So that's not something that's on [my] mind."
Walker got 304 votes, six above the 75% needed and up from 54.6% last year. Walker's increase of 22 percentage points in his final year of eligibility is the highest among the seven players to get into the Hall in their last year of eligibility, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
He was making his 10th and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot and tweeted earlier in the day, "I believe I'm going to come up a little short today," after checking the vote tracker and projecting he would finish at 73.3%.
As the announcement time approached, Walker had just about given up.
"I had it when they're going to call, a roundabout time, and that time had come and gone," he said. "And there was two minutes after that when the call actually came."
When Walker's phone rang, he uttered a profanity and then: "Oh, my God!" He answered, and BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell was on the line.
"You didn't come up short this year. You passed the 75% threshold, and welcome to the Hall of Fame," Walker remembered O'Connell telling him.
Pitcher Curt Schilling was third with 278 votes (70%) in his eighth ballot appearance, an increase from 60.9% but still 20 votes shy. Roger Clemens (61%) and Barry Bonds (60.7%), whose careers were tainted by steroids, both showed slight increases. Bonds rose from 59.1% last year and Clemens from 59.5%. Clemens missed by 56 votes, Bonds by 57.
Among those who saw sizable gains in their percentages were longtime shortstop Omar Vizquel (42.8% to 52.6%), in his third year on the ballot, and third baseman Scott Rolen (17.2% to 35.3%).
Jeter and Walker will be inducted July 26 at the Hall in Cooperstown, New York, along with catcher Ted Simmons and former players' association head Marvin Miller, who were voted in last month by the Hall's Modern Era Committee.
"Everyone told me it was a foregone conclusion. I didn't buy it. So it was not a relaxing day. There was a lot of anxiety," Jeter said. ''I was nervous -- sitting around, waiting for a phone call is something that is completely out of your control."
While Jeter said he didn't want to jinx things by believing his induction was a lock, Walker's election was far from a guarantee from the outset. He received just 20.3% in his first ballot appearance in 2011 and dropped as low as 10.2% in 2014. He rose to 21.9% in 2017 before jumping to 34.1% in 2018.
Not bad for someone who was not initially focused on a career in baseball.
"Being Canadian, you're born into this world with a stick in your hand and skates on your feet," Walker said. "So that's how I was as a kid. You played hockey, and that's all that really mattered. When hockey didn't quite go the way I wanted, baseball more or less found me."
Jeter played all 20 of his seasons for the Yankees after being drafted with the sixth pick of the 1992 amateur draft as a high school player out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jeter was bypassed by Houston (Phil Nevin), Cleveland (Paul Shuey), Montreal (B.J. Wallace), Baltimore (Jeffrey Hammonds) and Cincinnati (Chad Mottola). He debuted for the Yankees on May 29, 1995, and was installed at shortstop -- taking over for Tony Fernandez -- the following spring training by new manager Joe Torre.
It was a position he held down for two decades, never logging a single defensive inning at another position. He won five Gold Gloves despite defensive metrics that were maligned.
Jeter defined himself by moments more than numbers: his unexpected backhand flip from foul territory to throw out Oakland's Jeremy Giambi in the 2001 American League Division Series; his Mr. November home run in the 10th inning that won Game 4 of the 2001 World Series; his face-first leap into the stands after catching a 12th-inning popup by Boston's Trot Nixon in 2004; a home run into the left-field bleachers for his 3,000th hit as part of a career-best 5-for-5 game in 2011; a ninth-inning walk-off single in his final home game in 2014; a single in his final at-bat three days later that lifted his career average to .310.
A 14-time All-Star, Jeter was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1996 and finished in the top 10 of AL MVP balloting eight times, topping out at second in 2006. He scored 100 or more runs 13 times and ranks sixth all time with 3,465 career hits. While leading the Yankees to five World Series crowns during his career, Jeter played in a record 158 playoff games -- 33 more than any other player. His postseason OPS (.838) was 21 points better than his regular-season mark (.817).
Still, Jeter's résumé lacked a coda.
"I had a great relationship and still do with Reggie Jackson," Jeter said. "And Reggie used to constantly remind me when he when he came to the park, he'd always tell me, 'You're not a Hall of Famer yet.'"
Appointed captain by owner George Steinbrenner in June 2003, Jeter filled a position that had been open since Don Mattingly's retirement after the 1995 season. He finished with 260 homers, 358 stolen bases and 1,311 RBIs, earning $266 million from the Yankees.
Jeter was the ninth player elected to the Hall after playing exclusively for the Yankees, joining Lou Gehrig (1939), Bill Dickey (1954), Joe DiMaggio (1955), Earle Combs (1970), Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle (1974), Phil Rizzuto (1994), and Rivera. He becomes the 28th member of the Hall of Fame to represent the Yankees.
Jeter used some of his savings to join the group that purchased the Miami Marlins in September 2017, becoming CEO. Jettisoning veterans and going with low-priced youth in a way the Yankees never did, Jeter endured a pair of last-place finishes and the lowest home attendance in the major leagues.
Walker spent his 17-year career with the Montreal Expos (1989-94), Colorado Rockies (1995-2004) and St. Louis Cardinals (2004-05), winning the 1997 National League MVP for Colorado. He hit .366 that season with a career-high 49 homers, 130 RBIs and a .720 slugging percentage. Walker won NL batting crowns in 1998 (.363), 1999 (.372) and 2001 (.350). Known for his athleticism and strong arm, Walker won seven Gold Gloves during his career, and his .965 OPS ranks 15th all time.
Walker hit .313 for his career with 383 homers, 1,311 RBIs and 230 stolen bases and was a five-time All-Star.
Evaluating his offensive performance gave some voters difficulty because he spent 9½ seasons in the thin air of Denver's Coors Field. Walker batted .381 with a 1.172 OPS and 154 home runs in 597 games at Coors and .282 everywhere else.
Only three hitters in the live ball era (since 1920) have a higher batting average at a single ballpark with at least 2,000 plate appearances. Chuck Klein hit .395 at Philadelphia's Baker Bowl, Rogers Hornsby hit .392 at Sportsman Park in St. Louis, and Tris Speaker hit .387 at League Park II in Cleveland.
Walker was born in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, where he also attended high school. His 72.7 career WAR, per Baseball-Reference.com, is easily the most among Canadian-born position players. Among pitchers from that country, only Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins had more WAR (82.2). Walker joins Jenkins as the only two Canadian-born members of the Hall.
A hockey player until he was 16, Walker thought about what would have happened had he remained on the ice.
"I would probably be missing a few more teeth," he said.
His Hall of Fame plaque will have a Rockies cap. Walker said the key to picking the Rockies was that Colorado was "where the majority of my damage was done." The Hall makes the final decision after consulting with the player.
"I know I speak for the whole Rocky Mountain region in congratulating Larry for his election into the Hall of Fame," Rockies owner Dick Monfort said in a statement. "Larry blessed our region for parts of 10 seasons and we feel extremely fortunate to be a part of his incredible career. Congrats, Larry."
Schilling won 20 or more games three times during his career for the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox. He finished second in the Cy Young balloting three times and twice finished in the top 10 of MVP voting. He was also known for his postseason prowess while winning titles with the Diamondbacks (2001) and Red Sox (2004, 2007).
While Schilling's on-field Hall résumé is comparable to other pitchers who have been admitted to Cooperstown, such as 2019 inductee Mike Mussina, his controversial off-the-field stances probably have stirred the ire of some voters.
Newcomers to the ballot next year include pitchers Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson and Dan Haren and outfielder Torii Hunter. None appear to be slam-dunk selections, which could provide an opening for Schilling, Bonds, Clemens and others such as Vizquel, Rolen, reliever Billy Wagner (31.7%) and slugger Gary Sheffield (30.5%) to get over the threshold.
The 2022 ballot will include David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, who served a season-long suspension in 2014 for violations of the drug program and baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
ESPN's Bradford Doolittle and The Associated Press contributed to this report.