Babe Ruth and many others couldn't do it, and so went the notion that no player would ever be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame while amassing 100 percent of the vote.
That's until Mariano Rivera perfectly closed out his first appearance on the ballot.
Even as public ballots continuously showed Rivera's box marked in some way, there was a general feeling that just one voter hiding behind the Hall's allowed veil of secrecy would refuse to vote for baseball's all-time saves leader for any number of subjective reasons.
Surprisingly, and thankfully, that did not occur, allowing for celebration of the accomplishment versus wondering what could have been and what possibly had to be achieved before a player would receive 100 percent of the vote.
Of course, now that Rivera has broken through a seemingly impenetrable barrier, the next ballot will carry the name of yet another icon of the game -- Rivera's longtime teammate Derek Jeter. Like Rivera, Jeter's admission to the Hall of Fame will come with one question only: Will it be a unanimous selection?
Jeter, whose on-field credentials alone will minimally garner him a first-ballot entrance into the 2020 class, has many if not all of the off-field virtuosos that Rivera laid claim. The Hall voters have long used the character of the player to their advantage as a way of providing a reason to eschew the back of the baseball card.
Jeter, as far as anyone can tell, has been every bit the good guy away from the game as Rivera.
That said, Rivera had one clear advantage going for him, which ironically was historically a disadvantage for others in his shoes. He was a relief pitcher. Being a reliever, a closer more correctly stated, has been a bone of contention when deciding the fate of Hall of Fame candidates.
In recent seasons, as younger voters have entered the fray, the argument has lessened to a degree, but not to the extent that being a reliever goes unmentioned as a reason to avoid voting for players that have only worked in the bullpen.
From what I can gather the difference with Rivera is that this reliever, this closer, is roundly considered to be the best the game has ever seen. If plaques for closers were already hanging in the Hall of Fame, how would it be possible to not cast a vote for Rivera?
Jeter, a 14-time All-Star, remarkably has a larger hill to climb in order to gain 100 percent buy-in for his Hall of Fame candidacy. Jeter has five World Series rings, amassed well over 3,000 hits and holds several offensive records for shortstops, the only position he ever played.
However, Jeter never won an MVP award, and many of his counting stats might be perceived by some as "accumulated" over a long career.
The largest hurdle against Jeter's attempt at perfection might come when reviewing his defensive abilities. Jeter, who did win five Gold Gloves during his 20-year career, was often criticized in his later days because he had lost lateral range. He still made a majority of the plays that came his way, but getting to those balls up the middle or far to his right began to sneak through more often than not.
As defensive metrics began to grow into the mainstream, Jeter's once lofty defensive status was often mocked. Due to these arguments, Jeter may have some voters willing to leave his box unticked.
In contrast to Rivera's place atop the closer pedestal, Jeter is not clearly the best shortstop ever. Yet, "The Captain," as Jeter became known, was always in the mix. In that, he does possess a wild card: A flare for the dramatic.
Unlike Jeter's defensive decline, he never lacked the ability to rise to the occasion as his career concluded. Jeter's 3,000th hit was a home run on a day in which he also knocked hits No. 3001, 3002 and 3003 (he went 5-for-5 that day with the game-winning hit as well).
Jeter's last at-bat in his final game at Yankee Stadium was a walk-off single with his famous inside-out swing doing damage one last time in front of a packed house that he built. By then, no one was surprised by the man who made the flip-play famous, dove into the seats to catch foul balls, and became known as Mr. November when he hit the first ever home run in the 11th month of the year -- a walk-off blast no less.
Finally, since position players have constantly been considered more valuable to a club than closers, and Jeter's stamp on the game was every bit as profound as Rivera's, there is certainly a chance the former can obtain 100 percent of the vote like the latter.
So, should Jeter receive 100 percent of the vote?
If I was a voter, his box would be equally as simple to fill in as Rivera's. While it may be easy for me, it might not be so straightforward for actual ballot holders. Next December and January, as the public ballots accumulate with checks, X's and filled boxes next to Jeter's name, we might still be left to wonder until the final announcement if someone deliberately refused to leave their mark.
It only takes one voter to disrupt perfection, but at least Rivera's breakthrough has provided Jeter a better chance to come through one last time.