MLB Hall Of Fame Weekend 2024 - July 21, 2024

The Class of 2024 will be inducted July 21 on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Adrian Beltré, a five-time Gold Glove winner and four-time Silver Slugger recipient at third base, and former batting champions Todd Helton and Joe Mauer were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. They will be joined by Jim Leyland who was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee. 

Todd Helton - Colorado Rockies

Todd Helton began his career on the national stage as a quarterback whose college career was sandwiched between two future first-round draft picks.

Helton ended it with a plaque in Cooperstown following 17 seasons of almost unparalleled offensive excellence with the Colorado Rockies.

The son of a former minor league catcher, Todd Lynn Helton was born Aug. 20, 1973, in Knoxville, Tenn. He starred on both the diamond and the gridiron in high school and opted to play college football, committing to play quarterback at the University of Tennessee despite being taken in the second round of the 1992 MLB Draft by the Padres.

With the Volunteers, Helton saw limited action in 1993 as a backup to Heath Shuler before taking over the starting quarterback job in 1994. But a knee injury knocked him out of action early in the season and allowed Peyton Manning to begin his career under center.

From that point, Helton concentrated on baseball. In 1995, he was named the winner of the Dick Howser Award by the American Baseball Coaches Association – an award honoring the top player in the country – and was also named Player of the Year by Baseball America after hitting .407 while notching 11 saves as Tennessee’s closer.

The Rockies chose Helton with the No. 8 overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft. A little more than two years later, he debuted in the big leagues.

Earning the starting first base job in 1998, Helton finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .315 with 25 homers and 97 RBI. After bettering those numbers (.320, 35, 113) in 1999 – an August meeting with Rockies hitting coach Clint Hurdle was a turning point in Helton becoming more assertive at the plate – Helton embarked on a four-year stretch that rewrote the record books. He led the NL with a .372 batting average and 147 RBI in 2000, finishing eight homers short of a Triple Crown. In 2001, Helton hit .336 with 49 home runs and 146 RBI. His 402 total bases were three shy of his 2000 total, making Helton just the seventh player in history with multiple 400-total base seasons and the fourth player to reach the mark in back-to-back campaigns.

Helton also totaled 105 extra base hits in 2001 on the heels of his 103 XBH in 2000. Only 15 100-XBH seasons have been recorded in MLB history, and Helton, Lou Gehrig and Chuck Klein are the only players to reach the milestone in as many as two years.

“The more and more I see him, the more and more I appreciate what he does,” Hall of Fame first baseman Jeff Bagwell said of Helton. “To me he’s a complete player because he can play defense and run the bases. He does everything.”

Helton also won the first of three Gold Glove Awards in 2001 en route to leading the NL in fielding percentage six times. He narrowly missed out on his second batting title in 2003 when – needing a hit to overtake Albert Pujols, who finished the season at .35871 – he was intentionally walked by the Padres in the eighth inning of the season’s final game, leaving Helton with an average of .35849.

Helton continued to be a productive hitter in his 30s, leading the big leagues with a .445 on-base percentage in 2005 and topping the .300 batting average mark in 12 of his first 13 full seasons.

He reached the postseason for the first time in 2007 as the Rockies won the NL pennant and hit .333 in the World Series against the Red Sox.

A five-time All-Star, Helton finished his career with a .316 batting average, .414 on-base percentage and .539 slugging average to go along with 592 doubles, 369 homers, 1,401 runs scored, 1,406 RBI and more walks (1,335) than strikeouts (1,175).

His career OPS of .953 ranked 18th among AL/NL players at the time of his retirement, and his 592 doubles ranked 16th. He is one of only 11 retired players in history with at least a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, .500 slugging percentage and 350 home runs.

Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

Adrian Beltré ranks at the top of several all-time lists among third basemen, including most hits (3,166), plate appearances (12,130) and RBI (1,707). But maybe his combination of home runs (477), doubles (636) and Gold Glove Awards (five) says it best: No other non-outfielder in big league history has ever meshed offense and defense at those levels.

It was a formula that brought Beltré to the Hall of Fame.

Born April 7, 1979, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Beltré signed with the Dodgers before he was 16, which was against MLB rules. The Dodgers were eventually reprimanded by the league for the move but the team’s scouts proved to be correct as Beltré debuted in the big leagues less than three months after his 19th birthday.

Considered one of the game’s top prospects in his late teens, Beltré battled injuries and a near-fatal bout with appendicitis in his first few years before his breakout season in 2004 when he led the majors with 48 homers while hitting .334 and driving in 121 runs. The season came immediately before the winter where he became a free agent, and Beltré signed a five-year deal with the Mariners on Dec. 17, 2004.

“You enjoy playing against him because of his energy and that level of respect,” pitcher Huston Street said about Beltré. “He rarely does anything to celebrate himself.”

Beltré won the first of two straight Gold Glove Awards in 2007 but endured multiple stints on the injured list in 2009 and signed a one-year “prove it” contract with the Red Sox for 2010. Healthy again, Beltré earned his first All-Star Game selection and second Silver Slugger Award while hitting .321 with an MLB-high 49 doubles, 28 homers and 102 RBI.

Signing with the Rangers following that season, Beltré helped Texas win its second straight American League pennant and gained national attention when he hit three home runs in Game 4 of the ALDS vs. the Rays. Following that outburst, Beltré’s next home run came in Game 5 of the World Series, a game-tying blast that saw Beltré drop to one knee on a powerful swing that sent the ball over the left field wall at Rangers Ballpark. Texas went on to win that contest but fell to the Cardinals in seven games.

Emerging as a franchise icon, Beltré won Gold Glove Awards in 2011, 2012 and 2016 while leading the majors in hits with 199 in 2013. He finished seventh-or-better in the AL Most Valuable Player voting in four out of five seasons from 2012-16 and became just the third third baseman (following George Brett and Wade Boggs) to reach the 3,000-hit mark in 2017.

“You’re talking about a future Hall of Famer who likes being on the field and likes to play,” Rangers manager Jeff Bannister said as Beltré’s career came to a close. “(He) loves to play.”

When he retired following the 2018 season, Beltré had amassed five Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Slugger Awards and four All-Star Game appearances. Only Brooks Robinson has totaled more games at third base than Beltré’s 2,759.

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

In his first five full big league seasons, Joe Mauer led the American League in batting average three times. No catcher in AL or NL history had ever before won more than two batting titles.

For Mauer, it was the peak of a nine-year stretch that – before injuries forced him to move to first base – saw him hailed as one of the finest all-around catchers in the game’s history and put him on a path to Cooperstown.

Born April 19, 1983, in St. Paul, Minn., Mauer was a three-sport star in high school and became the first student to be named USA Today’s High School Player of the Year in two sports (football in 2000 as a quarterback and baseball in 2001). Turning down multiple offers to play college football, Mauer was selected by the Twins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 MLB Draft.

After just three minor league seasons, Mauer was brought to the big leagues in 2004 but missed most of the campaign with a knee injury. But in his first full season with the Twins in 2005, Mauer hit .294 with 26 doubles and 55 RBI. The next year, Mauer became the first AL catcher to win a batting title by hitting .347 en route to the first of six All-Star Game selections and five Silver Slugger Awards.

He hit .293 in 2007 then won his second batting crown with a .328 average in 2008, the same year he won the first of three Gold Glove Awards for his work behind the plate. Mauer’s finest season came in 2009 when he hit .365 to lead all big league batters while also leading the majors in on-base percentage (.444) and pacing the AL with a .587 slugging percentage. His 1.031 OPS also led the AL, making Mauer the first catcher in history (with at least 100 games caught) to lead the AL or NL in OPS. He received 27 of 28 first place votes in a landslide win in the AL Most Valuable Player voting.

Mauer continued to perform at an All-Star level for the next several seasons, including 2012 when he led the AL with a .416 on-base percentage. But late in the 2013 season, Mauer was sidelined with a concussion. He finished the year with a .324 batting average in 113 games, and the next year the Twins announced that Mauer would move to first base as a precaution against further concussions.

Over his last five big league seasons, Mauer hit .278 while averaging 29 doubles and 65 walks per season. He finished his career with a .306 batting average, .388 on-base percentage, 428 doubles and 2,123 hits. Mauer is the only catcher in history with at least 2,000 hits, a .300 batting average and a .380 on-base percentage.

“I don’t think Joe ever lost that edge,” said Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who managed Mauer in Minnesota during Mauer’s last four seasons. “He’s tremendously driven to win.”

Other Baseball Hall Of Fame Weekend Events

Always a Hall of Fame Weekend favorite, Ozzie Smith will return to Cooperstown with his Hall of Fame friends to host Turn Two with Ozzie. This unique event, taking place on Friday, July 19, will support the Museum’s Education Program.

Join us and MLB at Doubleday Field for a special free PLAY BALL event.

Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20 from 10:00am - 4:00pm at Doubleday Field.

A chance to see the game’s legends up close, the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends returns to Cooperstown at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 20. 

Class of 2024 inductees Adrian Beltré, Todd Helton, Jim Leyland and Joe Mauer will share memories at the Legends of the Game Roundtable on Monday, July 22 at 10:30 a.m., at Doubleday Field.

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