Baseball welcomes new Hall members
Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez are among five inducted in an emotional ceremony.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Ivan Rodriguez stared at his father, 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 executive John Schuerholz, also were enshrined in front of more than 27,000 people.
“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.”
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 when he first broke into the major leagues in the early 1980s.
“Without Andre Dawson there’s no telling where I’d be,” said Raines, who fought cocaine problems early in his career. “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.”
Rodriguez, 45, holds major league records for games caught (2,427) and putouts by a catcher (12,376). He hit 311 homers and batted .296.
Bagwell, 48, is the only first baseman with 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases. He hit 449 home runs and from 1996 to 2001 had at least 30 homers, 100 runs and 100 RBIs per season.
Raines, 57, a switch-hitter, 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. He had 70 steals or more in each season from 1981 to 1986.
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.
“It’s an overwhelming, stunning feeling,” said Selig, who left a large imprint during more than 22 years as the leader of the game.
Schuerholz, 76, spent 26 years as a general manager of the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves. His teams won 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series, one in each league.
TIM RAINES (with glasses) hugs Ivan Rodriguez as Johnny Bench, right, looks on.