English, Fedorov carry Hall show in Jeter's stead
Detroit — In the end, the Captain couldn't make it.
Derek Jeter, the Kalamazoo native and legendary Yankees shortstop, was a late cancellation for the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday.
Jeter's representatives told Hall of Fame officials two private planes experienced "serious" mechanical issues, and around 5 p.m. were told the Yankees great wouldn't be making it.
Jeter was scheduled to fly out of New Jersey's Teterboro Airport.
Hall of Fame officials said one of the planes actually took off, but had to return to the terminal.
A Journey Aviation employee who answered the phone Thursday night at the California offices, said she hadn't heard about any mechanical troubles in New Jersey but she had just started her shift.
The show, however, went on with several other stars joining the Hall. Among them:
■Doug English, a second-round pick in 1975 out of Texas who played 10 seasons with the Lions (1975-85);
■Sergei Fedorov, who played his first 13 NHL seasons with the Red Wings;
■Tom Izzo, who led the Michigan State basketball team to six Final Fours and the 2000 national championship;
■Barry Larkin, the former All-America baseball player who led Michigan to two College World Series before starring with the Reds;
■Aleta Sill, the first woman bowler to make $1 million in winnings with 31 pro tournament victories; and
■Sheila Taormina, a member of the U.S. gold-medal winning 4x200 relay team who later competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics as a triathlete.
Jeter, however, was the bigger draw for the ceremony at MotorCity Casino's Sound Board theater. The event was sold out.
Per Hall protocol, Jeter's induction will be delayed until 2016. Jeter's representatives told Hall of Fame executive director Jim Stark he certainly will attend.
Jeter, 40, was the first inductee to commit to attending when the class was announced. And, friends and family planned to attend the gala.
NHL great Mike Modano also couldn't attend, but Hall of Fame officials have known that for some time. He also will be inducted next year.
For Izzo, a native Michigander, entering the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame is the biggest honor of his career.
"When you look at the people who have been inducted into this thing over the years, it stands probably at the top for me," Izzo said. "There are so many great people who have been involved in this thing and men and women I have watched over my career. Coming from the state of Michigan and living in the state of Michigan all but two months of my life, I have a great appreciation for all those that did so much before, and to think I'm going to be in that fraternity is something incredibly special."
Izzo said the Hall brings together athletes and coaches who on a daily basis are rivals as competitors. In fact, shortly after talking to media members, he was greeted by former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, already a member of the Hall, and they had an animated talk.
"This is one time it's not a Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame (thing) — we're all kind of in this same family now in this great event," Izzo said. "That's kind of satisfying, too, because there are a lot of great people who played everywhere in this state that I respect a lot."
Fedorov landed in Detroit on Wednesday after an 18-hour flight from his native Russia, where he currently is coaching. He said he suddenly was struck with nervousness about his induction.
"I had a few extra beats of my heart when I land in Detroit, because I'm coming for a special, honorable occasion like this," Fedorov said. "I'm very honored. It's close to my heart.
"I feel like I just got back home from a long trip."