Friday, October 24, 2014

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Baseball Hall of Fame Inducts All-Time Greats

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Sunday at the Clark Sports Center was a spectacle that has rarely, if ever, been rivaled.

At the ceremony, there were about 48,000 fans, 50 returning Hall of Famers and a six-pack of new inductees featuring three first-ballot players, and three of the top five managers in Major League history in terms of career wins.

Sunday's speeches kicked off with the Atlanta Braves trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine -- both 300-win pitchers -- and their manager Bobby Cox.

"My father made my first pair of spikes out of an old pair of shoes," Cox said. "I know they are watching from above today. And I will say this, if there is a game going on at the same time as this ceremony, I guarantee you my father is switching the TV back-and-forth and second-guessing both managers."

"I never gave a thought to the Hall of Fame as I was going through my career. My goal as a baseball player was very simple, all I wanted to do was get better for my next start," Maddux said.

"I had the good fortune of being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Atlanta Braves. Of course, I wonder what would've happened had I taken up hockey. In my mind, of course, since I was drafted ahead of two Hall of Famers in Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull, I would've been a Hall of Famer in hockey as well," said Tom Glavine, who also had a stint with the New York Mets.

Next were Tony La Russa, one of only two managers to win a World Series in each league, and "The Big Hurt" Frank Thomas -- one of just four players to retire with at least a .300 batting average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs scored and 1,500 walks.

"I'm so humbled and honored to be a part of this historic class of first-ballot Hall of Famers. To share the stage in front of all the legendary men who made the game better for us all -- I'm speechless," Thomas said.

"For years, I've heard, 'Tony is prepared, our team is prepared.' Preparing is just studying for the test. I think what our teams did was, we took the test. We competed like fanatics," La Russa said.

Last, but certainly not least, Joe Torre, who has a combined 47 years of playing and managing experience, but earned induction due to this 12 years in the Bronx, during which he led the Yankees to six World Series, and won four.

"This game is a gift, and I am humble, very humble, to accept its greatest honor," Torre said.

As big as 2014 is, the class of 2015 could just match it. Returning the ballot is Craig Biggio, who was just two votes shy of induction, Mike Piazza received 62 percent of the vote (75 percent is needed), and on first-ballot players include locks Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. Other players in contention include Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Shieffield and Carlos Delgado. Results for the 2015 class are revealed in January.

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