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Ted ‘Simba’ Simmons entering Baseball Hall of Fame

It took a while, but eight-time All-Star catcher Ted Simmons has finally reached the National Baseball Hall of Fame – 31 years after his retirement.

Simmons will be inducted into Cooperstown Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 in July. The switch hitter, who had a batting average better than .300 in seven seasons, fell one vote short two years ago. This time, he received 13 votes out of 16 from the modern era committee. During his career he hit 248 homeruns and had 1,389 RBIs while playing for three teams. He suited up for St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Atlanta.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will choose other players next month. In 1994, Simmons garnered only 17 of 456 votes from the BWAA. The 3.7 percent fell just shy of the 5 percent threshold needed to stay on the ballot. He was on 11 of 16 ballots when the modern era committee met two years ago. He also had a career .348 on-base percentage. He had 8,680 at-bats and struck out only 694 times.

“This is a great, great day in my life,” Simmons said during a conference call.

“It’s obviously a very special day for me and (Marvin Miller’s) family and I’m just very, very pleased to be a part of it.”

Major news outlets are reporting that Simmons can thank the decision this time on modern measures committee and analytics. The new method of determining who entered the Hall of Fame helped push him over the top.

“If it weren’t for the analytics people, my career as a potential Hall of Famer probably would have been shut down and forgotten about a long time ago,” he said. 

“When people started talking about on-base percentage and WAR (Wins Above Replacement), and explained how WAR comprised, then it became a real look into a real study and then a real comparison started to develop … I played in an era with Bench and (Manny) Sanguillén and Fisk, Carter, (Bob) Boone, (Steve) Yeager, all those people through that period as catchers. It’s difficult to match up with people like Bench, who won World Series year in, year out, Fisk in Boston, who had great, great years.”

Simmons, nicknamed “Simba” because of his long mane, was also vocal about politics. He spoke out about the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon. He became the Cardinals’ director of player development after he retired. He then went on to become Pittsburgh’s general manager.

The other Hall of Fame inductee announced this weekend is Marvin Miller, the man credited with turning the Major League Baseball Players Association into one of the country’s most powerful unions. 

He negotiated baseball’s first five collective bargaining agreements and help players gain more signing freedom from the reserve clause. In essence, he helped bring in the age of free agency. It saw major-league salaries for players jump on average from $19,000 in 1966 to more than $300,000 in 1982, the year he retired.

Miller died in 2012 at the age of 95 and will be inducted posthumously.

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