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BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE
January 7, 2015
BRAD HORN:¬† Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.¬† Live from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, it is a great honor to welcome you to the 2015 Hall of Fame Introductory Press Conference.
I will introduce our dais.¬† We are all so honored to have each of you with us today, and our live television audience with the MLB Network.
We'll begin with opening remarks.¬† After that we will have our inductees put on their jerseys and caps, welcoming them to the greatest team ever.¬† Then we'll have a question‑and‑answer session.
I introduce to you Hall of Fame president, Jeff Idelson, 2015 Hall of Fame electee John Smoltz, 2015 electee Randy Johnson, 2015 Hall of Fame electee Craig Biggio, 2015 Hall of Fame electee Craig Biggio, Jane Forbes Clark, and Jack O'Connell.
In the audience today we're joined by many of our friends.¬† We always have our great friends Phyllis Merhige and Katy Feeney from MLB.¬† We're joined by chief communications officer Pat Courtney, chief operating officer Tony Petitti, and the commissioner‑elect Rob Manfred.¬† Thank you for all you do for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I'd like now to turn the program over to Jack O'Connell to make some remarks about this year's election.
JACK O'CONNELL:¬† Thank you.¬† Good morning, everyone.¬† I need to acknowledge a very important group, part of this process, the Alliance Sports Bureau, and Ernst & Young.¬† They did a tremendous job this year.
We have a very special class here.¬† The first time in 60 years we have voted four people into the Hall of Fame.
Craig Biggio, of his 3,060 hits, 668 were doubles, the fifth of all time, the most by a right‑handed hitter.¬† When you go up the list and pass people like Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Paul Molitor, it's quite a distinction, says volumes about that career.
John Smoltz, was there ever a pitcher who excelled equally as a starter and a reliever.¬† I don't think so.¬† Won the Cy Young award as a starter, Rolaids Relief Award in the bullpen.¬† He then went back to the rotation, two years later led the National League in victories.¬† This is a unique player.¬† As I told John on the phone yesterday, unique players go to the Hall of Fame, and they go right away.
Pedro Martinez led his league in earn‑run average five times.¬† His career ERA is below three in an era of offensive explosion.¬† He is the first pitcher under six feet in height to go to the Hall of Fame since Whitey Ford 41 years ago.¬† But today he's as tall as Randy Johnson.
The left‑handed strike‑out king, five‑time Cy Young award winner, co‑MVP of one of the most exciting World Series ever played.¬† The writers gave him a whopping 97% of the vote, the eighth highest plurality in the history of the voting.
BRAD HORN:¬† I'd now like to invite Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson to say a few years.
JEFF IDELSON:¬† On behalf of Jane, our board of directors and the entire staff in Cooperstown, thank you for joining us today.
Jane and I would like to commend Jack and the baseball writers in electing four really deserving candidates in the BBWA's biggest election class since 1955, one that was highlighted by Joe DiMaggio's election.
One of the most difficult career paths in the world is that to the major leagues.¬† In the long history of professional baseball, nearly 18,500 men have been privileged to wear a major league uniform.¬† Of them 1%, one out of a hundred, make it to Cooperstown.¬† That is how special Hall of Fame election is, and these men are among that select field.
Over the last two elections, the writers have given the Hall of Fame one heck of a five‑man rotation.¬† The class of 2015 specifically had a significant impact on baseball, and these guys' elections are richly deserved.
It's a class of three pitchers each with 3,000 or more strike‑outs, 11,113 combined.¬† It's a class of 735 pitching wins, nine Cy Youngs, and the only player in history with more than 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases, and 250 home runs.
It is also a class with 33 All‑Star Game selections and a class that's had a longevity playing 18, 20, 21 and 22 seasons.¬† Only 238 players in the history of the game spent more time in a major league uniform than any of these four men.
In addition to their great numbers, each of these men graced the game with class and dignity.¬† They continue to do so today.¬† They'll be celebrated for their complete contribution to the game moving forward.
Individually we know Craig played 20 seasons all in an Astros uniform, one of 28 members of the 3,000 hit club, and he won four Gold Gloves, all at second base, thanks to Yogi Berra who had the smarts to move him from behind the plate into the infield.
John Smoltz played 21 seasons.¬† He is the only pitcher in big league history, as Jack mentioned, with 200 wins, 150 saves.¬† Like Dennis Eckersley, his career was unique.¬† Like Catfish Hunter, the bigger the game, the better he pitched.
Pedro was Koufax‑like, dominating his entire career, doing so with pride and flair, akin to Rickey Henderson.¬† He is a three‑time Cy Young award winner, and his career winning percentage ranks sixth all time, first among pitchers since 1950.¬† He joins fellow countryman Juan Marichal as the only Dominicans in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Randy struck fear in the hearts of most anyone who entered a batters box, birds included.¬† Over 22 seasons, 303 wins, 22nd all‑time among left‑handed pitchers, five Cy Young awards, six 300 strike‑out seasons, 4,875 total, second only to the great Nolan Ryan.
Gentlemen, you have combined to wear the uniforms of 12 different teams.¬† A lot of teams.¬† Now the four of you are teammates on the greatest team ever assembled, and that's the Hall of Fame team.
We're going to give you all lifetime contracts.¬† You're not going anywhere.¬† You're stuck with us.¬† We are very, very thrilled to welcome you to Cooperstown.
Jane and I would like you now to stand up and we'll put on your jerseys and caps to your final team.
(Jersey and Cap Ceremony.)
BRAD HORN:¬† I'd like to note that the Hall of Fame will be working with the electees in the coming weeks to determine the logo that appears on a player's cap.¬† So that choice and those selections will be announced by the Hall of Fame in the coming weeks but will not be addressed today.
Questions at this point from the audience.
Q.¬† For the pitchers, you guys pitched in an era when offensive firepower was at its peak.¬† It seems like pitchers have been underappreciated.¬† Maybe not many have gotten in.¬† Do you think this might herald an influx of pitchers?¬† If you could stump for anybody that you think might be on the ballot, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, anybody you'd like to speak up for?
JOHN SMOLTZ:¬† I'll start.¬† First of all, it's just a privilege to be in the class with Pedro and Randy.¬† Of course, last year my teammates Tommy and Greg.¬† With timing and everything that has come about, sure, I agree, I think that pitchers will look at numbers a little differently.
There's so many great pitchers.¬† This is just a humbling experience for me.¬† I'm like a chameleon of finding a way to get it done during my career.¬† With Curt Schilling,
Mussina, Clemens, all the guys you mentioned, baseball, the game we love, the game I love, we've seen tremendous talent and tremendous numbers.¬† We'll see how the future holds for that.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I'm like blown away when you think about this class and these guys.¬† I hated facing Pedro.¬† Luckily never had to face Randy.¬† Didn't like facing Craig Biggio.¬† I'm honored to be with these guys.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† Like John, I don't have much more to say.¬† We all feel the same way.¬† We're all pitchers.¬† Craig was telling us in the room earlier today, Oh, you guys are pitchers.¬† We all feel the same way.¬† We all feel that everybody has gone their own way, probably away from different things that you will see, to try to manage to put numbers and be out there every day.
I'm extremely honored to be here with all of you.¬† Craig, I know I brushed you back a couple of times.¬† It wasn't intentional.
CRAIG BIGGIO:¬† I still love you.¬† It's okay (laughter).
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† I'm honored to be here.¬† It's a great joy.¬† For the Dominican Republic, it's a bigger deal than you think that I'm going in with this class.¬† What a class to go in.
Don't forget, you guys got to give me an autograph before you leave.¬† This is a special class.¬† For the other guys coming after us, I'm pretty sure the voters, they have done such a great job with us, gave us the honor to be here today, please consider them because as pitchers we know what we go through.¬† It's not easy what we do.¬† We appreciate so much the fact that you guys have voted us in.
Me, in particular, I couldn't thank you enough for voting me in and making me the second Dominican to go into the Hall of Fame.¬† Thank you so much.¬† I hope that those guys make it because, you know what, they battled their way through.¬† I know because I faced many of them.
CRAIG BIGGIO: ¬†Again, facing these guys, three Hall of Famers up here, two Hall of Famers up there, I don't know how they got hits off of them.¬† But it is an honor.¬† This is a huge privilege for us, to be associated with these guys together, because we have the utmost respect for one another.¬† We've got a lot of years and a lot of competitive at‑bats against each other.
I'm truly honored to be here.¬† I grew up an hour and 20 minutes here from a small little town in Kings Park, New York.¬† This is an overwhelming and humbling experience for me.
I never played the game to get in the Hall of Fame.¬† I played the game because I loved the game.¬† I loved everything about the game.¬† I loved the relationships that you had with the groundskeepers, the clubhouse guys, the interactions with the other teammates you played against.¬† Then obviously getting the opportunity to go to the post‑season.¬† For us the one time in the World Series.
20 years later, getting the opportunity to come and get invited into the Hall of Fame, it's very, very overwhelming for me because, again, I didn't grow up too far from here.¬† I'm gracious, appreciative.¬† I want to thank the baseball writers association for that.
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† For me, I was always on the opposite side of the field watching Pedro and John pitch.¬† Craig I had the privilege of playing with for two months in '98 when I got traded from Seattle to Houston.¬† Best two months of my career.¬† I was never matched in Arizona or anywhere else.¬† That was due to Craig, my teammates there in the bullpen.¬† I got to pitch in one of the biggest ballparks as well in my career, that was called the Houston Astrodome.¬† It's an honor to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My story has been well‑documented.¬† Almost seven feet tall, 6'20", it's an uphill battle for a major league pitcher is around 6'2", 6'3".¬† It was a hindrance at first.¬† It was an uphill battle.¬† There were moments I wanted to quit the game, but I stuck with it.¬† Had lots of pitching coaches, lots of encouragement over the years.
Like Craig said, it's nothing you play for.¬† You don't play to go to the Hall of Fame.¬† We don't play for the accolades that we had achieved.¬† It happened because of our hard work, the teammates, the people that surrounded us that made us better.
I'm very grateful and honored and humbled that I would be here at this day as with these particular players.¬† To be going in July to grace the stage with the greatest players that have ever played the game.¬† I'm really excited to meet Babe Ruth (laughter).
Q.¬† Pedro, it's been 32 years since the last time a Dominican player was inducted into the Hall of Fame.¬† Do you realize what you accomplished yesterday?
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† Well, I'm starting to learn.¬† It's been hard because I've been busy.¬† I haven't stopped to really think about it.¬† I think once I step in the Dominican, I'll probably get a better feel of what I have done.
Without a doubt, I know it's an important accomplishment for the Dominican Republic, for me individually, for my family.¬† We are so thankful for all the support of the Dominicans and the people around the world, America, for giving us the opportunity.
I have a pretty good idea.¬† I never dreamt or thought about or crossed my mind ever that I was going to be a Hall of Famer.¬† Like Craig said, we play the game.¬† I wasn't supposed to be here in the Hall of Fame today.¬† So I took every game like it was my Hall of Fame game.
I'm very thankful.¬† I have a pretty good idea what it represents to Dominican.¬† But until I get there and the people let me know, it's going to probably finally land on what I have done.
Q.¬† (Translated from Spanish:¬† If you're in school and get a GPA over 90, it's a good GPA, a good grade.¬† How do you feel, if you ever thought you were going to be over 90? )
PEDRO MARTINEZ: ¬†I'd probably say my answer would be that I never even thought about the Hall of Fame.¬† But making it, even with the lowest number, would be a great honor.
Q.¬† Pedro, during your comments yesterday in Fenway you indicated you followed the voting process.¬† With that in mind, how do you feel about the fact that almost 9% of the voters didn't select you in the ballot?
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† I feel thankful.¬† With that little amount that didn't vote me, 500 some voters, I'm in.¬† So that little amount doesn't mean much.¬† I know there were other players that probably needed votes.¬† Sometimes we get greedy and we want to get up there.
No, with the minimum amount of votes, I would be honored.¬† The fact that I made it over 90, it's unreal.¬† I couldn't ask for more.
The minimum would have been great to me.¬† Remember, I was second guest to be here.¬† Today I can say I am here.¬† I was supposed to be too fragile, I was supposed to break down on the way over, but I'm here answering your questions.
I'm extremely honored to have been selected, period, without anybody thinking about what the amount of votes could have been.
I'm thankful.¬† I thank you all.¬† I thank all the voters.¬† If it was the minimum, yes, I would have taken it (laughter).
Q.¬† John, I know you were there last year.¬† Individually I'd like to know how you feel about having your plaque going in with Cox, Maddux, Glavine, who you were with for so long?¬† And have any of you been to Cooperstown?
JOHN SMOLTZ:¬† For 21 years playing baseball every Sunday, the induction ceremony, I haven't had a chance to take it in because you're busy.¬† Last year working for the MLB Network was the greatest feeling.¬† I've been to great sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, you name it.¬† Nothing topped last year.¬† That was the greatest event I've ever been part of.¬† Seeing something for the first time almost.
We came through there and played the exhibition game, when they used to do that, it was a blur.¬† This was seeing my teammates that I knew, seeing my manager that I basically played my whole career for, had a smile on for five hours.
It was such a surreal feeling because this was something that for the first time I found myself feeling 'what if'.¬† Everyone kind of assumes the three of us together, links us together, assumes we got six inches off the plate.¬† I didn't, by the way, so don't put me in that category (laughter).¬† I had to go more into the strike zone than they did.
The fact that they got in, certainly everyone talked about, Why didn't you retire the same time they did?¬† We never talked about it.¬† We never talked about the Hall of Fame when you were thinking about retiring.¬† Everybody did something on their own terms.¬† That's what made it neat.
I played for the greatest manager in the world.¬† Having seen it come full circle, I never ask Tommy or Greg what it was like.¬† I didn't ask them where they stayed.¬† None of that stuff.¬† I pretty much kept this process as pure as possible.¬† Finding out I'm going to get to go there July 26th, it probably is the only way it could have topped last year.
I have such a great appreciation and I'm embarrassed to say as a baseball player, probably didn't pay attention enough when you're going through baseball playing every day, when you're broadcasting, to what a great place this Hall of Fame is.
Real quickly, when everybody was done, my show was over, everyone went to do their thing, I was there by myself, got to take in the town and the golf course.¬† It was unbelievable.
Kind of took for granted there at the end.¬† I forgot where I was after I was done playing golf course.¬† I walked to the hotel after playing golf, thought I would get something to eat around the corner, no one would know who I was.¬† I forgot where I was (laughter).
I am sure this will be kind of a blur for a lot of us, won't sink in for a while.¬† Is was told in a year, it will truly be when you can take in more.¬† Words can't describe what July 26th will mean having done that the year before.
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† I played there in 1986 maybe when I was in the New York‑Penn league.¬† That's my only visit to Cooperstown, New York.
Q.¬† Ever been to the museum?
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† Yes, but in '86.¬† I'm assuming it's a little bit bigger now.¬† Obviously over my 22‑year career, meeting and being mentored by some Hall of Famer players, meeting Hall of Fame players along the way as I was playing, I'm very excited to be on the stage, in their presence, and feel like I'm now in one of the greatest fraternities of all sports, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
I'm excited for my family and friends that will be excited to come and enjoy that moment with me.¬† I know the time will be a blur, like John said, much like my career.¬† I never got too wrapped up in anything I did.¬† I moved on to the next day.
The five years I've been retired now, finally here yesterday, it flew by me like I don't remember anything the last five years that I did.¬† The 22 years that I played were a blur, but very enjoyable moments.
It's a lot of fun over the last five years getting together with teammates at times and reminiscing about the times, whether it was the minor leagues, Seattle or Houston, talking with John about when the Expos and the Atlanta Braves shared the same complex in West Palm Beach.¬† Playing against Pedro when I was in Seattle, thinking that's probably what I would have been like if I was 5'8" or 5'9" (laughter).
But I'm just humbled and I'm looking forward to it.¬† I will take every moment in when I'm there.¬† I am as much a fan going to Cooperstown, New York, as I've ever been.
CRAIG BIGGIO:¬† I agree with John.¬† It wasn't six inches off the outside corner.¬† It was more like eight to 10.
My experience with the Hall of Fame, I was a little boy, I don't remember a lot about it.¬† I have a fond memory with my boys, my youngest son and my wife went up and played the Little League World Series up there.¬† Their experience up there, Jeff took them to the Hall of Fame, showed them some stuff we had up there.¬† They wouldn't shut up when they got home about all the things they got to see, the plaques, some of the people they heard about.
I'm really looking forward to getting back there and seeing all the history again, seeing the history that they saw, being part of that.¬† I mean, it's crazy.¬† We've all said it.¬† We're part of history now.¬† Things that my kids were seeing as little kids, as we all were at one time, now we're part of that.¬† I'm really looking forward to that weekend.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† For me, it was a little bit different.¬† When I first got my first chance to go, I was an Expo already, a young Expo, but I was there.¬† I couldn't help it.¬† I've always been a guy that likes to search, learn, see history.¬† I got glued to everything I saw in Cooperstown.¬† My eyes were glued to everything I saw in Cooperstown, every statue, everything.
I couldn't help but look at the gloves they used, looking at the gloves they used back then.¬† I couldn't imagine how could they probably catch a ball hit off a bat that fast with those gloves.¬† There were barely fingers.¬† You catch those balls.
To me it was a great experience.¬† It was a place where it made me wonder, What if I was played in those days, what it would be like.
But I got a pretty good look at everything that was there.¬† I went actually looking for Juan Marichal's plate.¬† I found a lot more, a lot more, so many things, so interesting.¬† The history of the game.¬† I went looking for Babe Ruth.¬† I couldn't think of a bat that the handle was so big.¬† How could they hit with that?¬† The handles nowadays are thin.¬† The difference between the game back in those days and now, it was really interesting.
I'm extremely honored to now become part of it.¬† I'm not going to use the same glove that they used, but I'll prepare one of these because I couldn't imagine how the game was.¬† I could only wonder.
But I'm extremely honored to go back.¬† Now being part of it, being looked at as an old goat, because that's what we all became, we became old goats now.¬† The kids are going to be, Look, that's Pedro, that's John.¬† That was back then (laughter).¬† We all became old goats after yesterday.
BRAD HORN:¬† Let the record show, Pedro started our Hall of Fame Classic last year at Doubleday Field.¬† Maybe your last pitching performance.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† Yes.
Q.¬† All three of you pitchers had well over 3,000 strike‑outs.¬† I know hitters did not like facing you.¬† How were you able to use that fear that they might have had, that intimidation, to your advantage?
JOHN SMOLTZ:¬† For me, I tried to fake it.¬† I'm pretty much a jokester.¬† I liked to have fun.¬† I was wild when I was early in my years, led the league in wild pitches.¬† As a matter of fact, set a record in the All‑Star Game, never been broken, three wild pitches in one inning.¬† Only way you could have that is have the bases loaded when you come in.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† I would have loved to see that.
JOHN SMOLTZ:¬† I learned how to be as tough as possible in whatever scenario, arm angle.
For me, having a five‑year gap between starting changed my dynamics of how I thought how to put a hitter away.¬† As a starter you had one approach.¬† As a closer, you wanted to be quick.¬† Never went into a game trying to strike people out, but when given the opportunity, I wanted to put them away and learned how to do that.
I was not a self‑taught baseball player to set up hitters.¬† I had to learn a lot on my own.¬† My transition really developed me as a baseball player.¬† I learned more as I made those transitions and as I came back from injuries that would have been so vital for me as a young player.
My first three years was on a team that lost a hundred games every year.¬† I never thought 14 years in a row I would be given the opportunity to play in the playoffs.¬† Really that's where I always wanted to be.
That's how I kind of faked it.¬† I learned it from Tom Glavine, who never showed emotion, which is a reason why he won 300 games, was a Hall of Famer.¬† I learned if you didn't have what you needed that day, fake it, don't let them know.¬† Hopefully I was able to do that.
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† For me, it was hard to fake.¬† You either saw 95 to 100 or you didn't.¬† As you know, intimidation was a big part of my game, but it wasn't until I actually harnessed my ability.¬† Early on when I started with the Expos, when Pedro was probably still wearing diapers, I was a major project for that organization to get me to be consistent with my delivery at 6'10".
The one thing I had going for me is I was able to throw really hard.¬† Kind of like that Sports Illustrated story that came out a long time ago, a kid wearing overalls in a hay field, being able to throw a hundred miles an hour, that was me.
I was like Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham that hit the mascot.¬† I was a combination of all that until it finally came together for me.
A lot of you were around for most of that to see me, whether I was playing against the Mets, or against the Yankees, or towards the end of my career with the Yankees.
But initially I wasn't intimidating.¬† No one wanted to face me because they were afraid I was going to hit them, and it wasn't on purpose.¬† I just didn't know where it was going.
Eventually when I could harness my ability at 6'10", and I knew where a 95 to 100 mile‑an‑hour fastball was going, then I had fun.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† For me was a different road.¬† Even if I was trying to intimidate as far as pitching, I couldn't do it.¬† My body frame did not intimidate anybody.¬† So I was probably intimidated by a lot of people.
I guess my determination to be out there said different.¬† At first, like everybody, every young pitcher, I was struggling with control and stuff like that.¬† Because I was small, and this is my advantage, I was able to harness everything I had to do and did it quick.¬† The small body frame allowed me to pretty much pass myself out of all the great pitchers I saw coming up.¬† John was one of them.¬† Maddux, Glavine, Roger Clemens to me, the best mechanics from a right‑handed pitcher.¬† I was a freak of studying mechanics.
Along with the lessons of so many coaches, good pitching coaches, minor leagues, big leagues, so many people were helpful to me.¬† I was pretty much able to harness everything I had and get this control where later on, every time I hit someone it seemed like it was on purpose.
Early in my career, the intimidation factor wasn't really with me.¬† I just was wild, just like every young player, every young pitcher.
I managed to put everything together.¬† Later on I had fun, like Randy says.¬† I had a lot of fun after I was able to do what I wanted to do.
Q.¬† Craig, you mentioned you're from Kings Park, New York.¬† What were the big lessons you learned there that got you here today?
CRAIG BIGGIO:¬† It was really hard to get off the island is the hardest part.¬† That was really the hardest part.
The lessons that I learned, I just had a lot of great people that I was surrounded with as a young man.¬† I think the guy that had the biggest influence on me, his name was Marty Hossenfass (phonetic).¬† Neal Heaton had played for him, a couple other guys that got in the big leagues.¬† If you could make his team, that was the ultimate goal.
I was playing for him when I was 14 years old.¬† I just learned a lot.¬† I went in time warp speed from, you know, playing at a real younger age, all of a sudden you're playing with 16‑ and 18‑year‑old guys, you're just a kid.¬† This guy was an amazing man, an amazing teacher.¬† That really started it off for me, is really being around him, seeing how these older guys were, really gave me the opportunity to do well, to do better.¬† Then I ended up signing at Seton Hall.¬† That's how I got out of there.
My high school football coaches, baseball coaches, were really good people.¬† Really good people out there.¬† I was lucky and fortunate to grow up where I did.¬† I had a great mother and father that supported me, my brother and sister, whatever we wanted to do.¬† My mom drove me everywhere.¬† God bless her.¬† I miss her every day.
Q.¬† What do you have that's special at home in your trophy case that represents your career, whether it's a game ball or bat?¬† Do you have anything in Cooperstown in the museum already that you have on loan or donated that's special to you?
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† As far as memorabilia, I became a collector myself.¬† I met Barry Halper as a visiting player.¬† As much as I didn't like facing hitters, I started collecting hitters that had won the batting championships, batting titles, MVPs.¬† After I won my first Cy Young in '95 in Seattle, I started collecting some of the earlier Cy Young award winners.¬† Then when I won a few more Cy Youngs in Arizona, that's when I started actually getting into some of the real interesting pieces that I purchased from Barry Halper before he passed away.¬† Christy Mathewson, personal stuff by Cy Young.¬† Then I had some tie there, some intangible meaning there.
As far as relics, artifacts, whatever you want to call it, of mine in Cooperstown, I believe I have a few pieces there, yes, over my 22‑year career.
CRAIG BIGGIO:¬† For me, the two prize things I have, one is actually football related.¬† Walter Payton was a hero of mine growing up.¬† I have a jersey.¬† On the baseball side of thing, Thurman Munson was a hero of mine.¬† I had a bat of his that was given to me.¬† Matt Galante, a coach, mentor to me, he coached Thurman Munson when I was younger.¬† It was nice to hear about Thurman, who he was, what he stood for.¬† When you hear he was everything that you thought he was, that was what it was all about.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† Well, mine is funny, it's really funny.¬† I came out of Great Falls, Montana.¬† After I was there my first year, from Manoguayabo to Great Falls, Montana, of all places, that's where I ended up.¬† I ended up being called up to pitch A ball in the playoffs.¬† So I did.¬† I didn't even have time to place a collect call to my brother Ramon who was already in the big leagues with the Dodgers to tell him that I was called up.
I traveled during the morning.¬† Then when I landed in Bakersfield, California, I didn't even know where I was, but I knew I was there.¬† I called Ramon.¬† I said, Ramon, they call me up to A ball to pitch a game.¬† I'm in a place called Bakersfield.
He goes, Bakersfield?
He said, You're right near Los Angeles.
I'm like, No, this is Bakersfield.¬† I see a lot of people with a lot of shirts that say 'Uck‑La', U‑C‑L‑A (laughter).
He said, After you're done, I'm going to send someone to pick you up.¬† You're only an hour from me.
His friends took me over.¬† Ramon was at a charity auction.¬† That's really my first collection.¬† Ramon was on the charity auction.¬† I had made 250 bucks between the playoffs in Bakersfield and Great Falls, Montana.¬† I went back and I saw all the players.¬† They didn't let me in because they didn't know who I was, and I also arrived late coming from Bakersfield, driving over.
So I went over and I saw many things signed on the table, silent auction, on the outside.¬† I saw a Reggie Jackson signed ball.¬† As a kid, I remember watching Reggie Jackson.¬† He was the only one that could pimp a homer back in those days.¬† A big name, big name.¬† I went on.¬† I checked on my pocket.¬† It said, Minimum 250 bucks.¬† I looked at the ball, I looked at my pockets.
Ramon's friend goes, You want that ball?
I'm like, Yeah, I would like to have it.
You have the 250 bucks?
All I had to do was reach in my pocket, pull it out, I knew it was 250.¬† So I was handing it to it person.¬† Here, buy it.
No, no, no, you don't get it that way.¬† You sign your name there.¬† If it happens that nobody bets on it, then you get it.
Guess what?¬† I got it (laughter).¬† All 250 bucks, 1990, that I made in my last 15 days of work in Montana, I paid for a Reggie Jackson signed ball.¬† That's my first memorabilia that I have from someone in the Hall of Fame.
But I have many now.¬† I have a lot more.
JOHN SMOLTZ:¬† I'm pretty bad at it, I'll admit.¬† I never really asked for autographs growing up.¬† I'm better today, but I've been known to play catch with my 200th win ball with my son.¬† I don't know where a lot of stuff is.¬† Couldn't find a glove on the way down.¬† I took a brand‑new one out.¬† I'm sure I have artifacts out.¬† It's not that it's not important to me, it's just not that important to me that I know where everything is.
I have a nice collection from the All‑Star Games that the guys signed.¬† But I'm probably embarrassed to tell you I've played catch with some memorable balls that I shouldn't have been doing.
BRAD HORN:¬† All four gentlemen have been very generous with the museum.¬† We'll be happy to share with you what they've donated to help preserve the game's history.
Q.¬† Randy, a long time ago I interviewed one of your pitching coaches, Mike Paul, this was 1994.¬† He said so much has to go right for you to throw a strike.
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† That was an underestimate.
Q.¬† What changed?
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† This was in '94?¬† Well, being in Seattle, I had struggled.¬† There was moments I'm not going to say of greatness, but just of confidence that I could do this.¬† You have to understand, at 6'10", it's unheard of that someone would be pitching at 6'10".¬† There's been others before me and after me but none that went on to have a lot of success just because it's not something that's normal.
But in '92 the off‑season, in December, Christmas Day, my dad passed away.¬† So he didn't see much of my career.¬† That had a huge impact on me.
Meeting Nolan Ryan and Tom House during the season of '92 where I could work on a little bit of the mechanics that they had kind of implied I needed to try to incorporate.¬† So between meeting Nolan and Tom House, a little bit mechanically, which was my biggest issue, and obviously my dad passing away on Christmas Day leading into the '93 season, it was actually my big, most successful year up to that point where I think I won 18 or 19 games.¬† It was unfortunate my dad had died.¬† But it put me at a whole 'nother level of understanding my threshold.
Throwing 160 pitches in a game wasn't unheard of that I could do that.¬† You know, it really wasn't.¬† I've had three back surgeries.¬† The last year in New York, I pitched at 42 with a herniated disc.¬† I couldn't tie my shoes.¬† My pain threshold, I didn't think about that because all I could think about is what my dad went through.
So I threw pitch limits out the window.¬† So between meeting Nolan that helped me with my mechanics and that, was my determination to not give up, give in.¬† When things were going right, I didn't get all happy about it.¬† I continued to put my nose down to the grindstone, stay focused, and try to get better.¬† I never was content with anything that I did.
I moved on very quickly from one start to the next.
Q.¬† Pedro, last year you were the starting pitcher in the Classic Weekend.¬† How did you feel walking out to the mound knowing next year you would possibly be going into the Hall of Fame and you might be the only pitcher or player that played and the next year he goes into the Hall of Fame?¬† Did you have a special feeling going out there?
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† It's always special when you get to Cooperstown.¬† You have a brief chance to perform or be considered by the Hall as someone that they want to see around there.
To me it was a great honor.¬† I didn't expect to participate in games.¬† But they asked me.¬† Somehow throwing a ball for me is not difficult, especially if it's in a little celebrity game like that.¬† It was simple.
But it is always special to go there.¬† It's always special to be invited by the people at the Hall.¬† To me, just having the opportunity to showcase, even as an old goat, a little bit of what I was and give the fans an opportunity to go to Cooperstown and see history, and at the same time get to see me, to me was a great honor.
I would like to thank them publicly for inviting me.¬† I had a great time.¬† I also got another view of Cooperstown because I only spoke about the first one that I went in.¬† But I didn't tell you guys that I went last year.¬† I had a lot of fun.¬† It was really interesting.
I'm glad I did what I did.¬† The last time I threw a ball off the mound was in Cooperstown.
Q.¬† Randy and Pedro, you spent a little time in New York.¬† What's it like being back in New York?¬† Can you reflect on your time in New York?
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† As a visiting player, when I came in here, nine half years with the Seattle Mariners, there was no greater place to come into than old Yankee Stadium.
Quick story.¬† My first American League start after I got traded from Montr√©al to Seattle, I'm getting out of the cab with my suitcases, pitching that day.¬† Tom Seaver is walking behind me as I'm going into the clubhouse with my suitcase.
I played for the legendary college coach Rod Dedeaux at USC.¬† He called everybody Tiger.¬† I think that's probably because he forgot what your name was.¬† But it's also a calling card that when you hear someone say 'Tiger' to you, you know that's USC alumni baseball.
Tom Seaver yelled ought, Tiger, Tiger, Tiger, you can't be carrying your own bags, you're pitching today.
That was my first Yankee Stadium recollection.¬† I went on to win that game.¬† But more importantly someone of that stature, who I've become friends with now since then, the great Tom Seaver, helped me with my suitcase on my pitching day in Yankee Stadium.¬† That was coming into Yankee Stadium as a visiting player.
Playing for the Yankees was towards, unfortunately, the end of my career.¬† I still managed to win 34 games in two years.¬† It wasn't the exciting Randy that people had witnessed against the Yankees maybe in my Seattle days or in 2001, but I still gave everything that I had.
Like I stated, the second year that I was there, my performances weren't as good, but I was also pitching with a herniated disc.¬† When that season was over, I inevitably ended getting traded back to Arizona and had surgery on my back.¬† Didn't complain about it.¬† Took an epidural on my back, tried pitching against Detroit.
But pitching in New York, it's where I wanted to come.¬† I would have went to Boston.¬† Schilling wanted me to come to Boston.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† Why didn't you?
RANDY JOHNSON:¬† I wanted to come to New York.¬† I wanted to be thrown in the fire.¬† And I did.¬† I had no remorse coming here.¬† I enjoyed every moment of it.¬† I know it might be hard for a lot of people to believe that.¬† I enjoyed the history of the game.¬† I never imagined doing any of the things that I did.
So when I was starting to do some nice things, now I'm surrounded by greatness, Whitey Ford comes in and says, Randy, can you autograph a jersey for me?¬† I said, Sure, Mr. Ford, can you do one for me and can we talk a little bit?¬† Having Yogi Berra come in and sit down next to me and talk.¬† My god, anybody would have enjoyed those moments as a player?
I'm good friends with Reggie Jackson.¬† Randy, how did you get more votes at the Hall of Fame than I did (laughter)?¬† I mean, who does that?¬† Friends do.¬† Reggie's the greatest.¬† I love Reggie.
But my point is, I came to New York because I wanted to.¬† I loved New York.¬† I didn't pitch maybe as good as people wanted me to.¬† No one has a higher bar standard than me.¬† That was the one thing my dad taught me, was the bar, the threshold, none of your best games you'll ever know what they were until you retire.¬† Until then, shoot for greatness.¬† So I always did.
But to end the story quickly, I enjoyed coming here as a visiting player for nine and a half years.¬† The moments were great.¬† I got to pitch in history, the ballpark.¬† I walked around here when I first got here, Tom Seaver getting my bag for me, talking to the people, the ticket vendors who had been there for years, listening to their stories.¬† Obviously getting to play with Derek and Bernie and Jorge, the great Joe Torre, people like that.¬† I mean, who wouldn't love that.
PEDRO MARTINEZ:¬† You're lucky.¬† You didn't have to have it like me.¬† I had to come over with Boston and face the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.¬† It's totally different (laughter).¬† You know how it is for us on the other side.
But it's always interesting.¬† It was always great.¬† It was always beautiful to have to come over and face the Yankees.¬† I learned a lot while coming over to New York as a visitor with the Red Sox, and also coming later on and dressing in the uniform of the Mets.
We were talking about intimidation earlier.¬† You said you feast on it, on intimidation.¬† New York is kind of the same way.¬† John was saying that Tommy told him whenever you didn't feel right, fake it.
The Yankees' fans are really good at that, trying to intimidate you as a Red Sox when you came over.¬† They wanted to intimidate you as an opposition.¬† But deep in their heart they appreciate baseball, they appreciate everything you do.¬† They recognize greatness.¬† They recognize everything.
Coming over to the Mets really got me to understand the New York fans and the fan base, even though I would say Queen's is a little bit different than the Yankees' fans.¬† Queen's, they're wild, they're happy, they settle for what they have.¬† Yankees fans cannot.¬† Win or nothing.¬† Win or nothing.¬† They're going to boo you and call you 'Who's your daddy' as long as they can.¬† They're going to chant until you just go away (laughter).
But I built a great relationship while being in the Mets.¬† The media seemed to be at ease a little bit more on this side, in Queen's.¬† When you went to the Yankees, at the same time you were actually facing the top challenge out there.¬† Imagine when they had the Moose, Randy, Roger, Andy.¬† You were up to a big task every day.¬† You were not going to have it easy.¬† Jeter, a team loaded with greatness.
It was interesting, but I also enjoyed that time.¬† I really enjoyed the time here in New York.¬† I enjoyed dealing with the media.¬† Sometimes I would be like, That's a BS question, next.¬† They wanted to get you fighting with the Yankees and the media and everything, the back and forth with the rivalry.
But I enjoyed it.¬† I learned a lot.¬† I appreciated the way the media have respect for me over the years and the way they treated me.
I have no complaints about being in as a visitor with the Red Sox, and I have no complaints about being here in New York with the Mets.¬† I enjoyed my time.¬† I enjoyed New York.¬† I appreciate it really.¬† New York is a special place.
BRAD HORN:¬† Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a very entertaining hour.¬† Thank you so much for attending today.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports