Baseball greats show class at induction
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez stared out at his dad, wiping away tears as he spoke.
“I love you with all of my heart,” Rodriguez said. “If I’m a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer — double.”
Those words punctuated Rodriguez’s speech as he was inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, along with former commissioner Bud Selig and front-office guru John Schuerholz also were enshrined on a picture-perfect summer day in front of over 27,000 fans.
“It’s always emotional when you see the fans cheering for you, and my whole family in front of me,” Bagwell said. “I’m an emotional person. It’s a dream just to be part of this beautiful group. Now I have that plaque forever. It’s unbelievable.”
Before he started, Rodriguez received a standing ovation from hundreds of fans, many wearing redand-white jerseys with Puerto Rico emblazoned on the front, and proceeded to give half his speech in Spanish.
“This is such an incredible honour for me,” Rodriguez said. “A little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream. Never let them take your dream away from you.”
Bagwell played his entire 15-year career in Houston. Bagwell started his speech by thanking his family, singling out his parents and wife.
Raines was greeted by scores of fans from Canada, many of whom came aboard several buses. He 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 when he first broke into the major leagues in the early 1980s.
For Selig, who was celebrating his 83rd birthday, it was a reversal of roles. For more than two decades he gave out the Hall of Fame plaques on induction day.
In 26 years as a GM for the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, Schuerholz stood alone. His teams won 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series.
From left, Hall of Famers Bud Selig, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuerholz, Tim Raines Sr. and Jeff Bagwell hold up their plaques Sunday.