Rodriguez, Raines, Bagwell, Selig, Schuerholz enter Hall
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Ivan Rodriguez stared out 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 Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and front-office guru John Schuerholz, also were enshrined on a picture-perfect summer day in front of more than 27,000 fans.
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. He then 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.”
Rodriguez, who spent most of his 21-year-career with the Texas Rangers, holds the major league records for games caught (2,427) and putouts by a catcher (12,376). He also played for the Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, and hit 311 home runs while batting .296. He’s the second catcher elected on the first ballot, joining Johnny Bench, who was seated on the dais behind him.
Bagwell spent his entire 15year career with Houston, and was one-third of the Astros’ “Killer B’s,” along with Craig Biggio, a fellow Hall of Famer, and Lance Berkman. Elected in his seventh year on the ballot, Bagwell batted .297 in his career, and is the only first baseman with 400 career homers (he had 449) and 200 stolen bases (he finished with 202).
“It’s always emotional when you see the fans cheering for you, and my whole family in front of me,” said Bagwell, who thanked his parents and wife. “I’m an emotional person. It’s a dream just to be part of this beautiful group. Now I have that plaque forever.”
Raines was greeted by scores of fans from Canada, many of whom came aboard several buses. He thanked his mother and father and later focused on Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, a teammate with the Montreal Expos when Raines first broke into the major leagues.
“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.”
Raines, who also played for the Yankees, Marlins, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles, earned enough votes for induction in his final year on the ballot. He batted .294 in a 23-year career, and had 808 stolen bases — the fifth-highest total in major league history, with a stretch of 70 or more steals each season from 1981 to 1986, a streak that still stands alone. His success rate of 84.7 percent tops the list among players with at least 400 steal attempts.
Selig spent more than 22 years as commissioner. 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 major league ballparks. His tenure also included the Steroids Era and the cancellation of the 1994 World Series amid a player strike.
In 26 years as a general manager with the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, Schuerholz’s teams won 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series. He was the first GM in history to win a World Series in each league.
Maui’s Dylan Kokubun slides into third base ahead of a tag by Florida’s Max Joy in the seventh inning.
Ivan Rodriguez, the second catcher elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, speaks during Sunday’s induction ceremonies.