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July 25, 2015
COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK
GREG AMSINGER:Â Good afternoon, baseball fans.Â How are you today?Â Welcome, everyone, to Cooperstown Doubleday Field and the fifth annual National Baseball Hall of Fame Awards Presentation.
We are delighted to have you at the home of baseball, Cooperstown, New York.Â My name is Greg Amsinger, MLB Network.Â It's a great honor for me to be here with you for this great celebration.Â In many ways, our network was built from a foundation of moments and memories of the men that are behind me right now.
So would you like for me to introduce the Hall of Famers?Â Let's do that now.
We begin with the class of 1972, Sandy Koufax.Â Class of 1980, Al Kaline.Â Class of '81, Bob Gibson.Â Class of '82, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson.Â Class of 1983, Juan Marichal and Brooks Robinson.Â Class of 1985, Lou Brock.Â Class of 1989, Johnny Bench.Â Class of 1991, Rod Carew, Fergy Jenkins, and Gaylord Perry.Â Class of 1992, Rollie Fingers and Tom Seaver.Â Class of 1993, Reggie Jackson.Â Class of 1996, Jim Bunning.Â Class of 1997, Phil Niekro.Â Class of 1999, George Brett, Orlando Cepeda, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount.Â Class of 2000, Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez.Â Class of 2001, Dave Winfield.Â Class of 2002, Ozzie Smith.Â Class of 2003, Eddie Murray.Â Class of 2004, Dennis Eckersley.Â Class of 2005, Wade Bogs.Â Class of 2006, Bruce Sutter.Â Class of 2007, Cal Ripken, Jr.Â Class of 2009, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.Â Class of 2010, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog.Â Class of 2011, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick.Â Class of 2012, Barry Larkin.Â The giant class of 2014, Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre.Â And the class of 2015, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.
I also want to welcome the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Jeff Idelson, and the Hall of Fame's chairman of the board Jane Forbes Clark.Â I would also like to welcome the president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Jesus Ortiz.
Now, we have two guests who are with us today who will accept special recognition honors in today's program.Â The executive director of the Major League Baseball Players' Association, Tony Clark, and the Secretary of the United States Navy, Ray Mabus.
Now let's welcome the two award winners who are with us today.Â The 2015 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Tom Gage, and the 2015 Ford C. Frick Award winner, Dick Enberg.
It is now my pleasure to introduce to you a very special person.Â She's been involved with the Hall of Fame for her entire life and cares deeply for the museum, our Hall of Famers and the village of Cooperstown.Â Continuing a wonderful family legacy that began when her grandfather founded the Hall of Fame 75 years ago in 1939, she is a tremendous visionary, a dynamic leader, and she adores the game.Â Please welcome the Baseball Hall of Fame's chairman of the board, Jane Forbes Clark.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â Thank you, Greg.Â And welcome to our fifth annual National Baseball Hall of Fame Awards Presentation.Â This afternoon we'll be paying tribute to two men who have helped elevate the game in the hearts and in the minds of all baseball fans:Â Tom Gage and Dick Enberg.
It's through their craft, the written word and the spoken word, that we have a better understanding and a deeper appreciation for the game, its players, and its impact on American culture.
This afternoon we will also recognize two anniversaries:Â the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II, and the important role that baseball played in supporting those war efforts, and the 45th anniversary of Curt Flood sitting out the 1970 season, paving the way for free agency in baseball.
So to begin this afternoon's program, I would like to call your attention to the video monitor for a short presentation about the Baseball Writers Association of America's 2015 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, Tom Gage.
VIDEO PRESENTATION:Â Since 1979, Tom Gage has covered every part of Motown's baseball team.Â Gage has been to over 50 ballparks, covered over 5,000 games, and wrote over 11 million words, words that have been used to describe the fluidity of Whitaker to Trammell on a double play, words to describe the spirit of Jack Morris and words to describe the precision of a Miguel Cabrera at‑bat.
The Washington (indiscernible) graduate is known for wearing baseball caps in the press box and his creative leads.Â While covering the 1989 World Series for the Detroit News, Gage wrote, Only an Act of God can save the Giants in the World Series.Â The next day an earthquake caused a 10‑day stoppage of that series.
From the 1984 championship season to their string of four consecutive division titles, Tom Gage's stories were the novel for the city of Detroit which make him a worthy recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â I would now like to invite Jesus Ortiz, president of the BBWAA, to tell us more about Tom's career.
JESUS ORTIZ:Â Thank you.Â Tom Gage held a front row seat for most of the significant changes to the game and to the business of covering the sport that the national pastime has ever seen.Â Along the way, Gage stayed true to his beat and his values, becoming one of the pillars the modern baseball journalism and a treasured voice of baseball in Detroit and throughout Michigan.
Born in the Motor City, Gage grew up a Tigers fan and documented his action in the fantasy baseball board games of the time with (indiscernible) stories.Â After entering college with the idea of becoming a lawyer, Gage turned to writing and quickly landed a job in the sport department of the New Orleans Times Picayune.Â A few years later Gage returned home to the Detroit News.Â By 1979 took he over the Tigers beat.
As the era of free agency dawned, Gage chronicled the seasons of a Tigers team that methodically drove towards a championship.Â With future Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson at the helm, enthralling writers on a daily basis with his unending supply of wit and wisdom, the Tigers were a journalist's dream, Gage driven to write stories that everyone could enjoy, culminating with the 1984 World Series title.
Gage remind on the Tigers beat for 36 seasons, covering hundreds of games per year, during campaigns that featured post‑season runs as well as record‑setting depths.Â Along the way, Gage earned the respect of the readers and colleagues like, transitioning to the challenging 24‑hour news cycle born from the invention of the Internet.Â His news‑first style and dogged work ethic earned Gage a reputation as the standard by which beat writers are measured.
Tom Gage, ladies and gentlemen.
TOM GAGE:Â Wow, just wow.Â I can't believe I'm standing here.Â What an honor.Â I am and always will be overwhelmed by it.Â Congratulations, first of all, to Dick Enberg, with whom I share this stage.Â I've long been a fan of yours, sir.Â And thank you to Jane and Jeff for all that you do to make this the greatest Hall of Fame there is.
It's so great, in fact, that my niece's six‑year‑old daughter Jenny told her mom the other day that Cooperstown, New York, is where she wants to live.Â When asked why, she replied, Because Uncle Tom is going into the Hall of Fame there.Â But when everybody leaves, he's going to be lonely.Â What a sweet comment.
But, Jenny, going into the Hall of Fame doesn't mean I have to move into the Hall of Fame.Â And thank you, colleagues, baseball writing has been my life's work, and your respect means the world to me.
However, I'll say up front that I will thank my loved ones at the end of this speech because, frankly, I don't want to stand here for 10 minutes not being able to see because of the tears in my eyes.
When Jack O'Connell of the Baseball Writers Association called me in December, I recognized the area code, and I thought it might be him.Â I didn't know if they called if you finished second or third.Â After all, my competition was Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, someone I considered to be a great columnist, and the great Furman Bisher, an Atlanta icon for generations.
So when Jack called, the first thing I had to do was sit down, and then I needed to make sure he hadn't called the wrong number.Â Look, I'm not a famous guy, I know that.Â I've joked with friends that in the legends parade later on, you'll find me on the 'who the heck is that' float.
I'm not a writer who has branched out to television.Â I'm not a familiar face.Â What's worse in this day and age, I don't have all that many followers.Â But after 36 years as a traveling beat writer, hoping to inform and entertain the entire spectrum of baseball readers, I received enough votes to be standing in front of you today, and for that I can't fully express how humbled I am.
But who am I?Â Well, if you've loved baseball all your life, I am you.Â If your first memory of watching TV is a baseball game, I am you.Â If you couldn't wait for the first day each spring that the new baseball cards were out, once again, I am you.
I am an adult version of a kid who wrote game stories after playing all‑star baseball, a wonderful game of spinners and discs, for hours on the floor of my bedroom.Â My dog ate a player one day.Â I mean, he ate half his disc.Â It was Gus Zernial of the old Kansas City A's.Â So even as a kid, I was able to write a story about the disabled list.
I also had a great teacher, Bill Mestdagh, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a man who is my good friend to this day.Â Mr. Mestdagh would give us vocabulary lists of 25 words with the assignment of writing a story with all 25.Â Some of the time my stories were about monsters.Â Of course, they were, I was only 10 years old at the time.Â But mostly they were about baseball.Â So that, too, pointed me in the direction of writing about baseball.
But I also just enjoy the game.Â I remember going on vacation and saying good‑bye to each of my baseball cards because I couldn't take them with me.Â When I got back from my beloved Cape Cod, by the way, I ran to where I left my cards, bursting with excitement to have them in my hands again.
I also remember my Uncle Donald giving me an autographed baseball when I was growing up, which I still have.Â And on it a player had written, To my good friend, Tommy Gage.Â Al Kaline.Â Never did I realize that someday I would call him my friend.Â Thank you for then, Al, and thank you for now.
I am probably the only sportswriter who literally dropped into the profession.Â But that's what I did.Â My first job was at the New Orleans Times Picayune, a wonderful paper to work for and to start at.Â The camaraderie there was so strong that nearly 40 years later, four of my friends from that sports department are here today.
But one slow night in November, I was on news side at the time.Â I was assigned to go out with another reporter just to see what was going on around the city.Â In New Orleans, there's usually a lot going on.
Well, we spotted a big fire in neighboring Jefferson Parrish.Â My passenger kept his eyes on it.Â But I as the driver did, too, for far too long.Â If it hadn't been for my passenger yelling, Tom, watch out, I would not have applied the last‑minute brakes that probably saved our lives.
But at close to highway speed, I plowed into a car without lights that had stalled.Â The impact was heavy.Â My car was totaled.Â But I was able to get out to look for help.Â Traffic had slowed, except for one pickup truck.Â At a high speed, it hit the same car I did, and spun away in a shower of sparks that came straight at me.Â If I had frozen, I have no doubt my life would have ended right then and there.Â But out of desperation and urgency, I catapulted myself to my left.Â I hadn't known it, but the accident occurred on an overpass, and down I went.Â When I came to, I was on my back looking up at the highway from which I had simply vanished.Â Ed Anderson, my passenger, eventually looked over the side, though, and yelled, There you are, Tom.Â Have you gone for help?Â Not exactly.Â Instead I needed help.
My injuries were such that when I returned to work on crutches two months later, the paper rewarded me with a place in the sports department.
From the Picayune, I went home to Detroit and had the great honor of covering the Tigers for the Detroit News to whom I gave every ounce of effort.Â When I walked away from the news in March because I was being removed from baseball coverage, despite reaching this pinnacle, it broke my heart.
I can be objective about my own career, though.Â I was more of a storyteller than a story breaker.Â But when I'm proudest of is something my good friend Danny Knobler, who covered the Tigers for 18 years, wrote for the program of the New York Writers dinner in January.
Tom has covered more than 5,000 games and never stopped looking for or finding new angles.Â He always had a knack of saying what Tiger fans were thinking.
But I tell you now, it was a privilege to do so.Â There were wonderful experiences along the way, such as covering legendary manager in Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland, whom I respected for the jobs they did, but liked even more as individuals.
The Tigers, of course, are one of the great franchises of baseball.Â But they had some bumpy times.Â I had some bumpy times, too.Â The first manager I ever asked a question of, likable but loud, Ralph Houk, well, he yelled at me just for asking it.Â The first general manager I asked a question of, irascible, but also likable, Bill LaJoie, well, he cursed me out for asking it.Â And the first manager I covered after I got on the beat full‑time, kindly but less than loquacious Les Moss answered the first three questions I asked of him by saying, You never know, to all three.
About that time I was thinking to myself, This is not going to be an easy beat.Â It wasn't.Â And that holds true even now.Â Baseball is not an easy beat.Â You miss weddings.Â You miss funerals.Â You miss birthdays.Â I say my son is 29 going on 18 because of all the birthdays I missed.
But I loved the beat.Â I couldn't have done it for as long as I did with all those deadlines if I hadn't.Â I loved it because every game is different.Â There's always a nuance to write about, something that makes each game unique.Â You just have to recognize it.
I loved it for the individuals of the game.Â There are great players who are great people.Â Far too many to mention.Â One I have to mention is Alan Trammell, one of the most admirable individuals I ever met in baseball.Â I liked self‑effacing players the most, I also liked players with humor, still do.Â There was the day that Sparky passed Hughie Jennings as the winningest Tigers manager of all time.Â After the game, with the help of media relations director Dan Ewald, there was a banner in the clubhouse thanking the players.Â I couldn't have done it without you, it read.
One of my favorites.Â A down‑to‑earth, hard‑working pitcher named Walt Terrell, saw the sign and waved me over.Â He could have done it without me, Walt said.Â Would have gotten there faster.
I also liked Enos Cabell, an easygoing guy still in baseball and possibly here today.Â He had a great outlook on life.Â One day, this is back when reporters flew with the team, Enos went up to the galley on the plane to see what the main meal was going to be.Â The flight attendant preparing it had just gotten up from a conversation with Sparky who was known to the players as a bossy, no‑nonsense type.Â The stone crab will be out in a minute he announced as he came back down the aisle.Â Thinking it was a comment about the flight attendant instead, Sparky said, That's not nice, Enos, her name is Esther.
Richie Hebner was an off‑season gravedigger when he was with the Tigers.Â He told me recently his winters are easier now, he drives a hearse instead.Â One day the Tigers were playing the Indians and one of the players got tossed.Â He got so mad to be out of the game he began to throw everything he could find onto the field, including a shovel that belonged to the grounds crew.Â Out went Hebner later to retrieve the shovel saying later, A great workman never abuses his tools.
I've seen great moments in baseball, five no‑hitters, and some terrifying moments.Â As the video indicated, I was in a shaking press box in Candlestick Park for the 1989 World Series earthquake.Â After writing the day before on the off day that only an act of nature rendering the field unplayable could save the Giants.Â I received a lot of nasty mail for that lead, as if I had caused the earthquake.Â Someone even accused me of being an evil wizard.
I was in Tiger Stadium the day that Tigers present Jim Campbell, a curmudgeon I liked a lot, finally modernized the entertainment by inviting the San╩Diego chicken to town only to have it go all wrong in a game against Boston.Â As the chicken raced in from centerfield waving pennants and accompanied by the theme from the movie Rocky, the Tigers put the wrong message on the scoreboard.Â Instead of introducing the chicken, it read, Reid Nichols pinch‑running for Yastrzemski.Â The first pinch‑runner ever in feathers.
I've been blessed, though.Â I had a wonderful family life growing up.Â My mother loved baseball.Â My father loved ballparks.Â The best combination.Â Among the dearly departed, as are my father‑in‑law and all too recent my mother‑in‑law, they are not with us today, but they are.Â Two of my sisters are here, two brothers in‑law, my son J.T., of whom I'm so very proud.Â My daughter‑in‑law Melinda and her parents, and many friends who have come long distances, including one from Seattle that I still throw the football better than.
My career has been work and it's been fun, but it wouldn't have been the splendid balance it was if I hadn't had a true saint╩at home understanding my job, and more amazingly understanding me.Â My wife Lisa is the light of my life.Â I met her at a Christmas party.Â She almost left before I got there, and one I nearly didn't go to.Â I'm glad she didn't, I'm glad I did.
It's to you, my dear, that I dedicate this honor.
You know, it's funny how life takes its turns.Â I changed my mind about law school because I wanted to be a journalist.Â The year I joined the Detroit News, the paper's baseball writer took another job.Â At that fortuitous point my pen became my bat.Â Now there's this incredibly special occasion.Â The great Whitney Houston sang a song called One Moment in Time.Â In it is this line, Give me one moment in time when I'm more than I thought I could be.Â Lovers of baseball, friends, colleagues, Hall of Famers, and all my loved ones, this is that moment in time for me.Â From the bottom of my heart and from the depth of my soul, thank you.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â I would now like to call your attention again to the video monitor for a short presentation about our 2015 Ford C. Frick Award winner, Dick Enberg.
VIDEO PRESENTATION:Â My very first baseball broadcast was for the only station in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, WCEN.Â It lasted one inning.Â One of the players in the bottom of the first inning broke his leg sliding into second base.Â They only had nine men, so they decided to call it off.Â So that's how my career began.
Richard Alan Enberg was born January 9th, 1935, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.
I dreamed about playing rightfield for the Tigers.Â I was 18 when they signed Al Kaline, and he took my job.
In 1966, Enberg left the Midwest and moved to the coast to become a full‑time broadcaster for the Los Angeles Rams and UCLA basketball.Â The next year, Enberg started broadcasting games for the California Angels.Â Enberg started gaining national recognition and joined NBC in 1975.
It's a beautiful early evening.Â Temperature in the 60s.Â It's a cloudless sky.
During his 25 years with NBC, Enberg called a bevy have of premiere sporting events from the World Series to the Super Bowl, from the Olympics to Wimbledon.Â But Enberg returned to the sport that was in his blood, baseball.Â In 2010, Dick Enberg started regularly broadcasting games for the San╩Diego Padres.
Line drive deep to centerfield.Â How far will this one go?Â How about all the way.Â Oh, my.
Throughout his life, no matter the different sport he excelled in covering, Enberg always steered back to baseball, which makes him a worthy recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
For 80 years I've loved this game, as far back as I remember.Â To have this as a culmination of my professional life and my love for a sport, it's too good to be true.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â I'd like to invite the vice chairman of the Hall of Fame board of directors, from the class of 1990, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, to tell us a bit more about Dick Enberg.
JOE MORGAN:Â Thank you.Â I knew I shouldn't have tried to steal that 700th base.
Actually it's an honor for me to do this because Dick Enberg, I started with him in my first, you know, network broadcast.Â We had a shot of us there.Â I was really young then.Â And we did the pre and postgame shows for the playoffs.Â And the next year we were supposed to be a duo on the air, work together.Â NBC lost the thing and it didn't work.
I've had a lot of great broadcast partners, many of them who have already received the Frick award.Â But I always wonder what it would have been like to be mentored by Dick Enberg.
Dick's voice has soared across the defining moments in sports history for six decades.Â A long time, and for many a lifelong companion with the biggest games and the most memorable events.Â But as fans of the Angels, and Padres can readily attest, baseball has always been his true passion.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in his home state at Central Michigan University, and completing postgame studies at Indiana University, Enberg headed west to fulfill his dream.
He began 11 seasons of calling the Angel games in 1968 and established himself as one of Southern California's most versatile on‑air talents.Â After adding broadcasting of the NFL to his rÃ„sumÃ„, he also did the UCLA Bruins, and he joined NBC Sports in 1975.
By the early 1980s, Enberg was NBC's leading voice on baseball and pro football, calling the thrilling 1982 World Series.Â Mets and Yankees I guess it was.Â No, that was '86, sorry.
While working several of his 10 Super Bowls and 28 Wimbledons, he moved to CBS Sports in 2000 after 25 years at NBC, using his versatile skills to imprint memories ranging from college basketball to tennis.
In 2010 Enberg returned to his roots as the television voice of the Padres.Â His passionate yet unselfish style beautifully summed up by his signature call, Oh, my, brought fans into the excitement of the moment.Â Along the way he worked seamlessly with dozens of analysts over the years, nurturing the development of many of his broadcast partners.
A voice for all seasons, Dick Enberg defined what a championship play‑by‑play broadcaster could bring to a game.
I give you the 2015 Ford C. Frick Award winner, Mr. Dick Enberg.
DICK ENBERG:Â Oh, my.Â Thank you, Joe.Â What a gamer, Joe Morgan.Â No surprise there at all.
You know, Oh, my, has been an expression, a great friend of mine for over 50 years of my career, and never have those two words expressed more personal joy than at this very moment.
Man, I thought I'd get all the way to the end before I started to get emotional.
Skully called me when the announcement was made and he said, Only one piece of advice, Enberg, no crying at Cooperstown.
How privileged I am to be in such noble baseball company.Â I join the thousands of you fans who will enjoy this weekend with a rousing thank you to Cooperstown, Jane Clark, Jeff Idelson, and all of those who manage and maintain the Hall of Fame as part of our American heritage.
Oh, my, Tom Gage has raised the bar.Â What a terrific speech, Tom.Â His deserved recognition as the Spink Award recipient.Â Tom, as all of you fans who have read his work, know that he has the rare talent when covering the Tigers to have them snarling and purring all in the same paragraph.Â Congratulations, Tom.
And, of course, kudos to the stars of the weekend, all the Hall of Famers, the creme de la creme of our sport, and this year's grand quartet, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.
I find it meaningful, by the way, that left‑hander Tommy John has surgically made it to Cooperstown.Â Thank you, John Smoltz.
All four inductees share important qualities.Â They constantly strive to be better.Â They were relentless in their work ethic.Â They played the game the right way.Â Thus, they honored the game that I love and you love.
So now to the boring stuff.Â Where did my broadcast career begin?Â Well, on an empty dirt lot in the middle of the California San Fernando Valley.Â I was nine years old in 1944.Â Using a bat and a tennis ball, because a tennis ball would roll farther than a baseball, I would start in the middle of the field, hitting one direction for the Pacific Coast League L.A. Angels, and when the ball stopped I'd hit the other way batting for the PCL Hollywood Stars.Â I taught my level to bat right and left‑handed.Â Ted Williams was my idol, I wanted to hit left‑handed.Â I would match the play‑by‑play of those two teams with whether they were right‑ or left‑handed.
When I finally hit one over the end of the lot into the street, that was a run, and we'd continue on till somebody won the game, scoring at least five runs.
I can remember following very closely in those days and mimicking the announcer that we heard during the war on radio, Fred Haney was the broadcaster.Â He later would become the manager of the Milwaukee Braves that won the '57 World Series, and then was the general manager later with the California Angels.Â Stay tuned.Â More on that later.
My mother once called me in for dinner from the field.Â She caught me gobbling down my meal and scolded me, What's the big hurry anyway?Â What's the hurry?
I said, Mom, I'm trying to get in a doubleheader.
Ernie Banks would have loved that.
After the war in the late '40s, the 1950s, having moved from California to Michigan, I was inspired by the radio calls of the Detroit Tigers broadcasters, first Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann, then Van Patrick and his analyst Hall of Famer Mel Ott.Â Then later the warm and wonderful Ernie Harwell came on the scene.Â We all loved him.
I was born in Mt. Clemons, just 14 miles from that (indiscernible) farm, my mother a devoted baseball fan, teethed me on a miniature baseball bat given to her by my grandfather.
My father would take me to the Pantages Theater in downtown Detroit to watch Harry Heilmann in a little glass booth recreate games off the Western Union ticker tape when they were on the road.Â My dad was already helping me hone my craft.
My father with his big farm hands and long fingers would play catch and swallow a smile whenever I tried to catch one of his dancing fork balls.Â Our farm was, indeed, spartan.Â No indoor plumbing.Â I joked that I had an early 1‑2 upbringing, attending a one‑room schoolhouse and enjoying all the comforts of a two‑hole outhouse.
He taught me a wonderful, lasting early baseball lesson.Â While taking me to Briggs Stadium then for my first major league game, 1947, the Tigers and Cleveland Indians.Â Fred Hutchinson against Bob Feller.Â As we entered the tunnel to the bleacher section in centerfield, he halted my eager steps to offer this:
Son, we've gone from the farm and all our fruit trees to the city.Â Not much green here.Â When we get on the other side of that tunnel, I want you to remember what you're going to see.Â This isn't an arena.Â This isn't a stadium.Â This is a ballpark in the middle of the city of concrete, a ballpark.
And we entered.Â That first‑ever sight of a major league park for a 12‑year‑old has never been forgotten in its powerful beauty.
Today, every time I go to an assignment in any ballpark, I remember what my father taught me, and I still enjoy the visual impact of being in such splendid places.
So I had no choice.Â Baseball was in my DNA.Â As so many of you know, once there, it pulsates for a lifetime, forever deep in your soul.Â That's why we care so passionately about our teams, our heroes, our pastime.Â That's why I stand proudly and humbly before you today to accept this prestigious honor.Â Living the dream.
Fast forward to 1966.Â The famed singing cowboy Gene Autry's TV station in Los Angeles hired me.Â I had served as an assistant professor and assistant baseball coach at what is now Cal State Northridge.Â Now I was KTLA's sports director.Â Among my varied assignments, as you already learned, calling John Wooden's championship Bruins teams.Â I served three years as the pre and postgame announcer for the California Angels.Â And in 1969 they asked me to replace Buddy Blattner.Â Blattner left L.A. to become the broadcast partner with Denny Matthews, 2007 Frick Award winner, to form the new team for the expansion Kansas City Royals.
Without the undying support of Mr. Autry, this day would never have happened.Â I wish he were here to accept my sincere thanks.
Let's face it.Â It's because of the cowboy we lovingly called him that Angels team would not have existed.Â He brought a second baseball team to Southern California.Â And I didn't know until after he had passed away that it was he, Autry, that had insisted I replace Blattner as the regular radio and TV announcer.
Before my first‑ever major league broadcast, the 1969 home opener against Kansas City, a visitor came into the booth.Â Just wanted to give you some advice, Enberg, he said.Â I'll say my piece and I won't bother you the rest of the season.Â After all, this is your office.
The advice is to report the ball.Â Don't tell me what it should do or what it shouldn't do or what you hope it will do, just report the ball.Â And he walked out.
It was Fred Haney.Â The great advice I have often used from the very voice that had inspired me as a young boy on that dirt field in the San Fernando Valley.
There are so many to thank today, this is an automatic trap for embarrassment, a hazardous course in which one is assured of missing someone important to my career, so I will generalize too many to thank, too dangerous to try.Â You know who you are, I know who you are.
But naturally my gratitude and love goes to my wife Barbara and my six children Nicole, Emily and Ted, their spouses and friends, sons Andrew and Alex are watching from Davis, California today.Â We lost my daughter Jennifer, the biggest of baseball fans, this spring.Â Marge Enberg and John and Ann Enberg represent my late brother and sister, Dennis and Cheryl.Â Walking up there with that baby in the first row is my first grandson Archie, all the way from London.Â And here is the good news, looks like he's going to be a left‑hander.
A tip of the cap to my baseball broadcast colleagues with the Angels and those here from NBC Sports today and to FOX Sports San╩Diego. Â Thank you all for your inspiration and support.Â And, of course, thanks to the Padres ownership, Ron Fowler, Peter and Tom Seidler.Â Tom is here today.Â President Mike Dee.Â And Tom Garfinkel who convinced me six years ago that it was time to leave the networks and return to the best announcer game.Â I've tried them all.Â Baseball is the best and most challenging announcer game.
I would be remiss in not acknowledging how fortunate it has been for me to work with the best in our profession.Â Think of these talented colleagues.Â Don Drysdale, Dave Niehaus, Tony Goodwin, Jerry Coleman, Joe Morgan, and with my fellow Frick winners Tim McCarver, Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, and Tom Seaver, each enriching my knowledge and my respect for the game.
And the treasured friendships of those that are in the Frick fraternity, so kind in giving their support.Â I think it's important to go through these litany of names because this is the foundation of broadcasting of this sport through the years.Â For me to be able to rub shoulders with their greatness is important for me to acknowledge.
Ernie Harwell, Vin Scully, Jack Brickhouse, Curt Gowdy, Jack Buck, Lindsey Nelson, Harry Caray, Jaime Jarrin, Bob Uecker, John Miller, they've all touched your lives here today.
How blessed I am to have known and studied them and their immense talents.Â And for every one of the others on the Frick roster, my gratitude.Â Each of you bore influence on my announcing career and on countless of others broadcasting baseball.
That takes me to those who pioneered baseball broadcasting, other than local announcers, Haney and Heilmann and Patrick, that influenced me, my first network voices that I heard, many of you old‑timers heard, were the charter members of the Frick award in 1978, Mel Allen and Red Barber.Â Radio, TV pioneers.Â You start in the 1940s, they taught us how to report the ball, call the game, and who taught them?Â Who taught Barber in the 1947 series as I listened on our Emerson radio with a long extension cord from the house out to the barn as we unloaded our apple crates, who taught Barber to caress the call of Cookie Lavagetto spoiling Bill Bevens' World Series no‑hitter with his understated but perfect touch.Â And here comes the tying run, and here comes the winning run.
Yes, my role as an announcer, I've taken great privilege and joy in reporting and copying their greatness, the unique beauty of our game, and the elements that I adore.Â This is why I love baseball.Â I love the distinct sounds a ball makes against ball and gloves, the calls of umpires and concession airs, announcer punctuation calls.Â Oh, doctor, how about that?Â The holys, holy cow, holy mackerel, holy Toledo.Â That does make sense, the game is religion.Â Hey, I've worked for the Angels and Padres, and Lord knows in the course of a season we all pray a lot.
I find great joy in its poetry, continuing to marvel at baseball's strengths and subtleties and sober disappointments, each with a challenge to call it right.Â The perfect interception of a laser line drive by a geometrical outfielder, and sometimes the daring dive to accomplish the mission.Â The exultant cacophony of the crowd in a walk‑off win.Â The extraordinary drama of late innings building to a no‑hitter.Â I might add personally, that in my entire career the single most exciting assignment, calling a no‑hit, no‑run game.Â Thank you Nolan Ryan and Dennis Eckersley for allowing me that privilege.
I loved acknowledging the subtle arrogance of Hall of Famer Rod Carew's drag bunt.Â Tony Goodwin's mastery of an inside‑out missile deftly directed through the 5.5 hole.Â The sleight of hand of Brooks Robinson magically reducing doubles into 5‑3 put‑outs.Â The towering arc of a Ted Williams mortar shot deposited in the bleachers high.Â The classic confrontation of the best hitter against the best pitcher, and the immaculately executed ballet of a double play.Â I love the double play.
As the song goes, These are just a few of my favorite things.
You know, it doesn't end there.Â Baseball never ends there.Â That's why we embrace it.Â We share it and score it, play it, and honor it.Â It's a generational game, connecting us gloriously with the past and heading us toward the future.
As a young boy, I can remember when we had family gatherings that I would always be asked, Hey, Dickie, what are you going to be when you grow up?
I never hesitated.Â I'm going to be a ballplayer.
And my father would counter with a humorous putdown, We'll all go down to Briggs Stadium someday.Â There will be Dick, he'll be shouting peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jacks.Â They had a good chuckle, as you did, but it didn't deter me from my dream.Â I wanted to be a ballplayer.
But reality did arrive the age 18.Â Coincidentally another 18‑year‑old directly out of a Baltimore high school took my dream job in rightfield for the Tigers.Â Al Kaline.Â How did he do?
My friends in high school and college still remind me, Hey, Enberg, you only talked a good game.Â I guess it all worked out.Â My dream has taken me to a great place, the Ford Frick Award in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Oh, doctor.Â Oh, my.Â How about that?
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â As I said earlier, we honor two anniversaries this afternoon.Â The first is the 45th anniversary of Curt Flood's pioneering of free agency.Â It was his action of sitting out the entire 1970 season to protest the reserve system that led to the advent of free agency and the expansion of players' rights.
I would like to call your attention to the video monitor for a short presentation about the career of Curt Flood.
VIDEO PRESENTATION:Â Today the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum honors former Reds, Cardinals and Senators Curt Flood whose test of the reserve clause versus the United States Supreme Court in 1970 laid the groundwork for the advent of free agency several years later.
We're the show.Â We're it.Â Without us, you can close your stadiums up and go home.
A three‑time All‑Star, and seven‑time Gold Glove winner in centerfield, Curt Flood helped the Cardinals to two World Series championships in 1964 and 1967.
During his 15‑year career, Flood had 1861 hits with a lifetime batting average of .293.Â After the 1969 season, the Cardinals traded Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies, much to his dismay.Â Flood petitioned the court to allow him to choose his employer instead of being subject to a trade.
I wish I would have had the same courage to do what Curt had.
While sitting out the 1970 season, the court ruled against Flood in a 5‑3 decision.Â Flood's efforts inspired players Andy Messerschmidt and Ed McNally to pick up the fight five years later.
If they didn't have the reserve clause to restrain baseball players to move from one place to the other, then baseball as we know it today would no longer exist.
Curt Flood passed away in 1997.Â But it was his challenge to the system and contributions to the Supreme Court case that would pave the way to free agency as we know it today.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â I would like now to invite Major League Players' Association executive director Tony Clark to please join me.
TONY CLARK:Â Thank you.Â As I thought about what to say today, and more importantly how to say it in the time I was allotted, I realize that although I don't deserve to be on this stage as a player, giving my perspective as a player rather than an executive made the most sense.
So what I'd like to do today is offer you a few statistics and then offer you some personal reflections as to Curt and what he meant to myself and other players with the stance that he took in '69/'70.
18,560, 8,993, 1,022.Â What the heck do those numbers mean?Â There have only been 18,560 players to wear a major league uniform for one day over the course of 135 years that Major League Baseball has been in existence.Â 8,993 is Curt Flood's number in that list of 18,560.Â Only 1,022 have ever worn a major league uniform for 10 years and a day.Â That means in Curt's 15 years, the numbers that are behind me, and a very few handful that aren't here today, make up a very small, very fine, very select group.
As players we appreciate that we're all links in a chain.Â We appreciate that we're part of a brotherhood, a very select brotherhood.Â We also appreciate that we have a responsibility as players to leave the game better than it was than when we came in.
It is that commitment to leaving the game better that puts our fraternity and separates our fraternity from a number of others.Â In addition, there are very few that had the commitment and embodied that commitment more than Curt Flood.
In 1992, I had an opportunity as part of the Niagara Falls (indiscernible) to come on an off day here to the Hall of Fame.Â While I was here, I spent five hours wandering the halls and wondering about our history and learning about what I could have an opportunity to be a part of.Â It was at that point in time when I realized the responsibility I had.Â I wasn't a major leaguer yet, but as a professional ballplayer, I recognized the foundation of excellence that had been laid before me and the responsibility that I had, particularly if I made the big leagues, to carry on that excellence.
In 1994, I was knocking on the major league door.Â At that point in time I was getting information from a lot of the veterans who were on the major league side, including a speech, a speech that Curt gave to our group, our leaders, that focused on the value of solidarity, that focused on the value of commitment to principles.Â So as I moved up through the ranks, I was hearing the effect that Curt Flood had on all of us as players.
The irony with that meeting in '94 was that it was almost 25 years to the date after him taking the stance he did against Major League Baseball and the long‑standing reserve clause.
In 1995 I was fortunate enough to make it to the big leagues.Â When I got there, and as an active player, even now as an inactive player, my message is the same to all those who are willing to listen, to all those who put on a uniform:Â We are fortunate.Â Our game and our foundation has been laid on the backs of giants.Â And if we understand and appreciate and respect that, if we understand and appreciate the sacrifices that were made, if we understand and appreciate the sacrifices that Curt Flood made, we will all be better for it.
So to all those who have paved the way, to all those that laid the groundwork for myself and others to wear the uniform, thank you.Â Thank you to all the gentleman that are behind me, to those that are in the stands, to those that aren't here today.Â Thank you.Â To all those who fought for and continue to fight for equality and fundamental fairness both in sports and in life, I thank you.
To Curt Flood's family, who I believe is here today, thank you for being here today.Â Please know that the fraternity understands, respects and appreciates and will not forget the sacrifice that Curt Flood made.
And if Curt were here today, I'd tell him that he was one of the most influential athletes of the 20th century, that his commitment, his stance, his willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of the whole, fundamentally changed the way business is done in all sports, not just baseball.
I would tell him that he could rest easy, that at the end of the day his message, the value of solidarity, the commitment to fundamental principles, will not waiver and will not change.
Curt, the fraternity appreciates all you've done and all you continue to do and the message that continues to be sent on your behalf.Â So to Curt Flood, thank you.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â In 1941, Bob Feller, Hall of Famer, class of 1962, became the first active major leaguer to voluntarily enlist his services with the United States military.Â The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he drove from Cleveland to Norfolk, Virginia, and enlisted in the United States Navy.Â Hundreds of other major leaguers followed his lead.
Today we recognize the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and honor the important impact Major League Baseball had in assisting in our country's efforts and our country's victory.
I would like to look, pay attention to a short video presentation about baseball and World War II.
VIDEO PRESENTATION:Â I heard it on the radio that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.Â Hell, you know, here goes my baseball career.
Today the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum recognize all the professional ball players who served in World War II, as America marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.
More than 500 big leaguers joined the military during World War II, including Hall of Famers like Bob Feller and Hank Greenberg.Â Feller enlisted in the Navy just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941.Â And Hank who re‑enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 after being drafting and serving in the Army in 1941, before being honorably discharged December 5th, 1941.
36 Hall of Famers, more than 11% of all Hall of Fame members, served during World War II, including Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Monty Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Stan Musial, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, (indiscernible) Rusk, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, and Ted Williams.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â I would now like to invite United States Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, to please join me.
RAY MABUS:Â Thank you, Jane, for that wonderful introduction.
You know, I've had an incredibly fortunate life.Â A bunch of very rewarding positions.Â But the only way I could have gotten on this stage with these folks is through the United States Navy.
But I have thrown out the first pitch now at 24 major league stadiums.Â So if anybody needs help pitching down the stretch, I'm pretty sure I'm an unrestricted free agent right now.
I am honored to be here today.Â I'm honored to serve in my current position as the leader of the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known.
Our Navy, our Marine Corps uniquely provide presence around the globe, around the clock, ensuring stability, deterring adversaries, and providing our nation's leaders with options in times of crisis.
Now, we're America's away team because Sailors and Marines never get to play a home game.Â And equally in times of peace and of war, we're not just in the right place at the right time, we're in the right place all the time.
We get on station faster, we stay there longer, we bring everything we need, and we don't have to ask anybody's permission to get the job done, and we win.
In baseball terms, I'm sort of the GM of America's away team.Â I focus on four fundamentals:Â people, our Sailors and Marines, platforms, our ships and our aircraft, power, how we fuel those platforms, and partnerships, our strong relationships with international friends, and you the American people.
It's our long‑standing partnership that the Navy and the Marine Corps have with Major League Baseball that brings me here today.
Throughout history countless heroes have committed and sacrificed to achieve victory on the playing field and on the battlefield.Â But a very select few have done both.Â In doing so, it exemplifies what is great about this country.
As Jane noted, this marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.Â And thank you at the Hall of Fame for honoring that anniversary and for those baseball players and Hall of Fame members who served.Â It's fitting that we honor the legacy of the 350 heroes who played the ultimate doubleheader:Â serving in combat and pro ball.
We've lost a lot of these people that served in World War II.Â The ones that are still here, the physical skills may have dimmed a bit, but their memory and our gratitude for what they did still burns incredibly brightly.
So today I have two announcements.Â The first honors these service members and their contemporaries, their predecessors and their successors who represent common values, whether they wear military or baseball uniforms.Â And the second is to honor the incredible support the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball has provided and continues to provide to our military and our veterans.
Two years ago the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation began recognizing a current major leaguer, a Navy chief petty officer, and a Hall of Famer who embodied Bob Feller's principles and high achievement of commitment to others and to country.
You heard a little bit about Bob Feller.Â He left a major league career.Â He did drive to Norfolk, Virginia, to enlist in the Navy, starting that drive the day after Pearl Harbor.
He earned six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars aboard the USS Alabama.Â Chief petty officer Feller rejoined the Indians and won a total of 266 games over 18 years.
When he was asked which of his wins he was the most proud of, he responded:Â World War II.
I told a story earlier today to your chairman.Â Bob Feller was on the USS Alabama in Pearl Harbor when Chester Nimitz, the commander in chief of the Pacific fleet, showed up and said that Army was playing Navy in a baseball game, and he wanted Bob Feller to pitch.
Chief Bob Feller said, No, I did not join the Navy to pitch.Â I joined the Navy to fight.Â But he recommended a guy named Bob Lemon who was on another ship nearby who did pitch.Â Just like today, we beat Army.
The Department of the Navy is incredibly fortunate to have two branches of the service.Â So having an award just for Navy and not including the Marines is like awarding the Commissioners Trophy to the American League and not the National League, which is why I'm pleased to announce the creation of the Jerry Coleman Award in honor of our United States Marines.
So as Dick Enberg said, Jerry Coleman during World War II and Korea flew 120 combat missions.Â He earned two distinguished flying crosses and 13 air medals.Â When he wasn't busy being a war hero, he found time to play for the Yankees, was Rookie of the Year in '49, World Series most valuable player in '50, and in one of his six World Series appearances, four of which the Yankees won.
Despite this kind of success, this kind of fame, Jerry Coleman said, To me, the height of my life, the best thing I ever knew, wasn't the Yankees, wasn't baseball, wasn't broadcasting, it was the United States Marine Corps.
So to honor Jerry's legacy, beginning this year, and in each year following, we're going to recognize those players and Marines who best exemplify his characteristics of honor, courage and commitment.
Now to the second announcement.Â I have the coolest job in the world.Â I really do.Â One of the duties that I have is I get to name every Navy ship.Â Since the founding of our Navy, since 1798, my predecessors have honored the spirit and the values of America by naming ships after people, after cities, and after states.
I've had the honor and many opportunities to carry on this tradition because one of my big priorities has been expanding the size of our fleet.
When I took office in 2009, despite one of the great military buildups in our history, our fleet has declined by almost 50 ships.Â In the five years before I became secretary, we only put 27 ships under contract.Â Not enough to keep our fleet from getting smaller and not enough to keep our shipyards in business.
In my first five years, we put 70 ships under contract and we will get to 300 ships by the end of this decade.
The newest kind of ship we have is called the littoral combat ship.Â It's innovative, it looks different.Â It's a modular design.Â It's flexible.Â They are fast.Â They have a shallow draft so they can go places that none of our other combatants can, and the costs keep coming down.
These ships will serve our nation for decades, sailing the world from the waters of the Caribbean, the Archipelagos of the Pacific, on patrol, standing the watch, providing presence.
And so today I'm very happy to name another ship.Â I'm equally proud of the name that this ship will bear.Â Our Navy's newest littoral combat ship, LCS 23, will be the USS Cooperstown.
So to all of those who serve in the United States military, past, present and future, on behalf of a very grateful nation, thank you.Â And to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, an institution that recognizes American heroes of all sorts, and on behalf of a grateful military, thank you.
So from the Navy semper fortis, forever courageous, from the Marine Corps, semper fidelis, forever faithful.Â Thank you.
JANE FORBES CLARK:Â I feel very confident on behalf of Cooperstown to be able to say thank you so much, Mr. Secretary, wow.
I'd like to ask our award recipients to please join me so we can congratulate them again and give them another big round of applause.
Thank you all so very much for coming.Â I hope that we'll see you tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at the Clark Sports Center when we induct Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, the class of 2015, into the Hall of Fame.
Now I'd like to invite all of you to join us on Main Street for our annual Parade of Legends.Â Thank you so much for coming.Â Save travels.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports