A weekend of Legends at the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions
Biggio, Smoltz, Johnson and Martinez enter Hall.
Baseball’s greatest players welcomed four new members to a sacred fraternity on Sunday afternoon Cooperstown, New York.
Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were officially announced into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, joining 211 former major leaguers, 28 executives, 35 Negro leaguers, 22 managers and 10 umpires.
On Sunday afternoon at Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, all four men were honored for their accomplishments and great service to the game of baseball.
Biggio was the first to receive his plaque as it was most appropriate he led off the ceremony just as he has led of his whole career. With Houston Astros’ fans chanting his name, Biggio stood at the podium in front of 53,000 people, and 53 Hall of Famers in disbelief of all that was happening.
“This is pretty cool, I must say,” the Astro hero said. “What an incredible honor it is to be standing in front of these great men. I’ve played against some of them, I have admired some of them, but I have respected all of them.”
Biggio, the catalyst of the Astros franchise for 20 seasons had 3,060 hits in his historic major league career, and had another one on the podium on Sunday. Biggio thanked everyone including Astros fans, family, friends and Matt Galante, who helped Biggio transform from a catcher to a gold glove winning second baseman.
Along with 3,000 plus hits, Biggio tallied 291 homers and had 414 steals. He is also the first Astro to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“How do you get into the Hall of Fame? You’ve got to have a little bit of talent, and a lot of help along the way,” Biggio said.
Biggio proceeded to touch on everyone who helped him get to the podium in Cooperstown, including his college baseball coach Mike Sheppard.
“He was a marine, he was a disciplinarian, but most of all he loved his players and always had your back Biggio said. “Coach Shep’s motto was ‘Never lose your hustle,’ which is something I took to my pro career,” Biggio said. “I’m very grateful to have played for you, Shep. Thank you.”
Biggio attended Seton Hall for three years and is the only player from the Big East conference to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Biggio also praised fellow Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who was a mentor to him in Houston.
“Yogi was the smartest baseball man I’ve ever been around,” Biggio stated.
Then it was on to thank the Astros fans who supported him for the past 20 years.
“I hope I earned your respect by the way I played the game and I never took that for granted,” he explained. “I will never forget the playoff runs we had and the 20 years of memories.”
Biggio concluded by stating, “In baseball, tomorrow is not guaranteed and I tried to play every game as if it was going to be my last,” Biggio said. “I want to thank the game for everything. The game has given me everything. My family, my friends, respect, but most of all, memories of a lifetime.”
Following Biggio was Atlanta Braves great John Smoltz. Smoltz had a unique career as he was a dominant starter for 12 years in the majors, but following the 1999 season, Smoltz had Tommy John Surgery which kept him sidelined all of 2000. Smoltz saved his career with four years in the bullpen following the surgery and was just as dominant. Smoltz saved 55 games in 2002, and won the Rolaids Relief Man award.
Smoltz found his way back to the starting rotation and went on to win 213 games in his illustrious career. Smoltz opened his speech talking about four significant phone calls that he had received in his life, the fourth being the invitation to the Hall of Fame.
“When I got the call letting me know that I had been inducted into the Hall of Fame words and emotions cannot describe,” Smoltz described. “The phone rang and I was so thankful.”
Smoltz thanked family, friends and had important messages to young athletes and parents as well.
“I had some messages I wanted to share, Smoltz said in a post ceremony press conference. “I could’ve went on for hours about the Tommy John message, but I wasn’t trying to over shadow anything.”
The message Smoltz is referring to was in his speech as he felt that kids are worked to hard by coaches and he stated that Tommy John Surgery is a part of the game now.
“I want to encourage you, if nothing else, know that your children’s passion and desire to play baseball is something that they can do without a competitive pitch,” Smoltz stated. “Every throw a kid makes today is a competitive pitch. They don’t go outside, they don’t have fun, they don’t throw enough—but they’re competing and maxing out too hard, too early, and that’s why we’re having these problems. Please, take care of those great future arms.”
Smoltz message was strong and with a first-hand experience with Tommy John Surgery parents and athletes need to solve the issue.
Smoltz was 213-155 in his career with 3084 strikeouts with Atlanta, Boston and St. Louis.
Following Smoltz was 6-foot-10-inch left hander Randy Johnson. Johnson pitched for Seattle, Montreal, Arizona, New York and San Francisco in 22 MLB seasons. 303 wins and one co-World Series MVP later, Johnson made it to Cooperstown.
“”I no longer have a fastball. I no longer have a bad mullet. And my scowl is gone,” Johnson said.
The “Big Unit” was a member of the 4,000 strikeout club striking out 4,875. While thanking his friends, family and fans Johnson expressed his appreciation.
If you were cheering for me, I’d run through a brick wall for you and throw as many pitches as needed to get the victory,” Johnson said.
Johnson was a warrior and competed for 22 seasons. Johnson’s height easily made him one of the most intimidating players to ever play the game.
The final inductee speech was delivered by Boston’s Pedro Martinez, who easily had the biggest crowd. Martinez drew a crowd from Boston as well as the Dominican Republic. Martinez gave the speech in both English and Spanish hopping back and forth.
Martinez thanked his fans, family, friends and organizations over the years as the best pitcher of the steroid era was inducted. He was 219-100 with 3150 strikeouts and a career earned run average of 2.93.
Either way in Spanish or English Martinez was honored to be there.
After the long day, Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame gained four terrific men, plaques, baseball players and legends that will live on in a fraternity forever.
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