Fifty-two living Hall of Famers have been introduced at the Baseball induction ceremony in Cooperstown.
They’re seated behind the dais as the inductions get ready to begin for former players Jeff Bagwell, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Tim Raines, along with front-office whiz John Schuerholz and former baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
In the front row are Sue and Ned Raines. They say they’re a bundle of nerves. Ned Raines says he’s been nervous for a decade and was elated when Tim got the call in January in his last year on the ballot.
Also in the audience are Phil Garner, Jose Cruz, Jose Guzman, Larry Dierker, Willie Randolph, Bob Uecker, and golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Below the Baseball Hall of Fame inductions of 2017:
Tim Raines has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Raines was the final speaker and was greeted by lots of fans from Canada, many of whom came aboard several buses.
Raines thanked his mom and dad, who were seated in the front row and later focused on Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, his teammate with the Montreal Expos.
“Without Andre Dawson there’s no telling where I’d be,” Raines said. “I wanted to kind of be like you and he finally accepted and I followed. Thank you so much for making me the player I became.”
The 57-year-old Raines, who became a star with the Expos, played in the major leagues for more than two decades.
The switch-hitting Raines batted .294 and had a .385 on-base percentage in his 23-year career, finishing with 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs and 808 stolen bases. His stolen base total is the fifth-highest in major league history and included 70 or more steals in each season from 1981-86, a streak that stands alone in baseball history. And his 84.7 percent success rate tops the list among players with at least 400 steal attempts.
Raines also cited former Kansas City Royals star George Brett and base-stealing kind Rickey Henderson, both Hall of Famers who were seated behind him on the stage.
Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Before he started, Rodriguez received a standing ovation from hundreds of fans, many wearing red-and-white jerseys with Puerto Rico emblazoned on the front, and proceeded to give half his speech in Spanish.
“This is such an incredible honor for me,” Rodriguez said. “A little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream. Never let them take your dream away from you.”
After speaking in Spanish, he went back and repeated what he said in English, concentrating on a message to youth.
“You have the right to dream,” he said. “Everything in life is possible. I speak from experience.”
The 45-year-old Rodriguez holds the major league records for games caught (2,427) and putouts by a catcher (12,376). He hit 311 homers and batted .296 in his career. He’s also only the second catcher elected on the first ballot, following in the footsteps of his childhood idol, former Cincinnati Reds star Johnny Bench.
In 21 seasons spent mostly with the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, won a record 13 Gold Gloves and took home seven Silver Slugger awards.
Rodriguez closed by telling kids to “respect the game, love this game. Sometimes dreams come true. Look at me. I am here on this stage, this special place, and my dream has become a reality. God bless baseball.”
Former Commissioner Bud Selig has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Selig, who turned 83 in Sunday, left a large imprint during more than 22 years as the leader of the game. He was instrumental in the approval of interleague play, the expansion of the playoffs, splitting each league into three divisions with wild cards, instituting video review and revenue-sharing in an era that saw the construction of 20 new ballparks.
His tenure also included the Steroids Era and the cancellation of the 1994 World Series amid a players’ strike, but he left baseball in excellent shape economically without labor strife and with a strict drug-testing policy that has helped clean up the game.
Selig thanked his mother and father, his wife and family. He also cited the late commissioner Bart Giamatti, the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson for their contributions to the game.
Selig says it “really is an overwhelming day. What you’ve seen here today is a little boy’s dreams come true.”
Jeff Bagwell has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bagwell took the dais to an extended applause from the hundreds of Astros fans who made the trip.
“You know I don’t like attention,” Bagwell said with a tinge of nervousness. “I’m so humbled to be here. I’m just really trying to figure out what’s going on.”
Bagwell started his speech by thanking his family, singling out his parents and wife.
“Mom, you are just the most amazing person in the world,” he said. “You’ve been a pillar for me. I can’t tell you how much I love you and what you mean to me. My father, Bob. There’s something about a dad. You brought me to love this game of baseball. Something my father instilled in me was to never quit. Deep inside, I just never gave up. That drive got me a long way.”
The 48-year-old Bagwell, who played his entire 15-year career with the Houston Astros, was elected in January in his seventh year on the ballot. He’s the only first baseman in history with 400 career home runs and 200 stolen bases.
“I tried to do everything well,” he said. “I wanted to score for my team and for my other players. I enjoy the stolen bases more than anything else. For a little guy with not much speed, I truly appreciate that. I could help us win in different ways.”
Bagwell ended his career with 449 home runs, was 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and in the strike-shortened 1994 season hit .368 with 39 homers and 116 RBIs in just 110 games to unanimously capture MVP honors.
From 1996-2001, Bagwell had at least 30 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs per season, only the sixth player in major league history to reach those marks in at least six straight years.
Former Atlanta and Kansas City general manager John Schuerholz has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, leading off a ceremony that also will honor Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and former commissoner Bud Selig on his 83rd birthday.
In 26 years as a GM, Schuerholz’s teams won 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series. He was the first general manager in history to win a World Series in each league.
Schuerholz credits divine providence and fate for his good fortune. He says a case of German measles left him deaf in his right ear, forcing him to be more attentive.
Schuerholz, who played second base at Towson University, says he knew where he should concentrate his future in baseball after a two-day tryout when he was told to time the players on the second day instead of taking the field.
“The message was delivered,” Schuerholz said. “I’d better concentrate someplace other than trying to be a professional baseball player. Divine providence. Fate. I truly believe so.”
His hometown Baltimore Orioles gave him a spot in its minor league system, and in 1969 Schuerholz joined the expansion Kansas City Royals and became the team’s general manager 12 years later, winning the 1985 World Series before leaving for the Braves.
With Schuerholz calling the front-office shots, Atlanta won a remarkable 14 straight division championships.
He joins former Atlanta manager Bobby Cox and pitchers John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, key cogs on those Braves teams.
Five men were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Here’s what happened at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction 2017 in Cooperstown, N.Y.