Los Angeles Times

Heartfelt words by Ortiz, Hodges in Hall inductions


COOPERSTOW­N, N.Y. — David Ortiz promised to speak from the heart. As usual, Big Papi delivered.

His megawatt smile tinged with a tad of emotion, the former Boston Red Sox slugger was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday — after his daughter Alexandra sang the national anthem — and was humbled by his surroundin­gs.

“I want to thank God for giving me the opportunit­y to be here today and for giving me the joy of being able to travel this path, this path that has allowed me to be here today and hopefully inspire everyone to believe in yourself,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz was greeted by a raucous crowd chanting “Pa-pi!” as many fans made the four-hour drive from the vicinity of Fenway Park to attend the festivitie­s.

When he took the stage, Ortiz pointed skyward as is his wont in special moments, a way of honoring his late mother, who died two decades ago after a car accident.

“I always tried to live my life in a way so I can make a positive influence in the world,” said the 46-year-old Ortiz, who survived a nightclub shooting in the Dominican Republic three years ago.

“And if my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone you can change the world, you can change their future, just like so many people believed in me.”

Six Era Committee selections also comprised the Class of 2022 — former Minnesota Twins teammates Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, the late Minnie Minoso, former Dodgers star and New York Mets manager Gil Hodges, and Black pioneers Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler.

Irene Hodges spoke on behalf of her father, a hardhittin­g first baseman who had 370 homers and 1,274 RBIs in 18 major league seasons — all but the last two with the Dodgers. He retired in 1963 and five years later was hired to manage the Mets, leading them in 1969 to their improbable World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles before dying of a heart attack three years later at 47.

“He would be so proud. Today I am especially happy for my mother,” Irene Hodges said. “When the call came from the Hall of Fame, I began sobbing probably as much as I did when I lost my father. I was so beyond happy for him, and even thrilled that my mom at 95 would be able hear this news. My mom is watching today from our home in Brooklyn.”

The 83-year-old Kaat, now a broadcaste­r for the Twins, pitched for a quarter of a century, winning a World Series a year before retiring in 1983.

Oliva was the American League rookie of the year in 1964 and became the first player in major league history to win batting titles in each of his first two seasons.

Minoso became a star with the New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues before becoming the first Black Latino player in the major leagues in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke in. To Cuban players, Minoso was the Robinson of Latino America and starred for the Chicago White Sox in the 1950s.

O’Neil, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues and was a tireless advocate for the game until his death in 2006, was represente­d by a niece, Dr. Angela Terry.

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield paid tribute to Fowler, the first Black player to play on a white profession­al team nearly seven decades before Robinson.

“I ask that you remember Bud Fowler in a broad context,” Winfield said. “Remember him as a skilled athlete who endured obstacles that are hard to imagine today. I personally hope that all of you will see him as a man who loved the game of baseball from its beginning.”

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