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July 24, 2016
Cooperstown, New York
JANE FORBES CLARK: As chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame it is my honor, Mike, to welcome you into the Hall of Fame family.
MIKE PIAZZA: Thank you, commissioner. Thank you very much. You're going to make this harder than it is, I'm telling you right now.
First and foremost, I sincerely wish to thank the Baseball Writers of America for voting me into the Hall. I appreciate how high your standards are, and I consider your blessing a tremendous source of pride and joy.
Thank you to Jane, Jeff, Walker, and everyone at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. You treat us like family, help us in every way, and every fan should rest peacefully knowing you are the caretakers of the game. Thank you.
Kenny, it is an incredible honor to be going in alongside of you. About the only thing we have in common as ball players are two arms and two legs. Your talent, athleticism, and tremendous joy you brought to your teammates and fans was infectious.
The work ethic you showed as a first overall pick is inspiring. When no one would have blamed you to rest on your pedigree, you worked tirelessly to shine and that's why you had the highest vote percentage in history.
I'll never forget the first time I witnessed your skills. Unfortunately, it came at my expense when you robbed me on a ball in the gap in instructional league early in our careers. I knew at that time professional baseball was going to be very difficult. I'm so happy for you. God bless you and your family.
Thank you to all the legends and Hall of Famers on this stage behind me. You all have given us great joy and inspiration. The only way I ever thought I would be here with you is if I bought a ticket. It's a tremendous‑‑ it is a testament to our great country and game that dreams can come true, you just need to be willing to pay the price.
Two that are very special to me are Mike Schmidt and Johnny Bench. Schmidtty, I watched you as a child, I celebrated with you, and suffered with you. You were a true man of class and faith. The outpouring of emotion when you announced your retirement showed how much pressure you put on yourself to perform, and I always considered you an inspiration. God bless you.
And Johnny Bench. Johnny, you will always be the best of all time. You revolutionized catching and the game is better because of it. Your leadership and performance in the biggest games will never be matched. Although maybe I hit the ball just a little better to right field.
I think one of the most amazing things about the hit the ball is that no one goes in here alone. We all have had many people helping us, inspiring us, coaching us and yes, sometimes kicking us in the rear. And now it is my tremendous honor and privilege to thank those who have done this for me. My love affair with baseball started in a small steel town about a four‑hour drive south of here named Phoenixville, Pa. It was a tough town, blue collar, coming off the prosperity of the 50s and 60s. The steel mills had closed and what was left were the sons and daughters of immigrants. They loved God, their families, and sports.
I came up through an intensely competitive little league, youth league, and high school program. This town loved its sports. It was evident in the fact that we were not big as some of the neighboring towns, some twice our size, but in baseball we punched above our weight.
My high school coach was John "Doc" Kentucky, and he loved the game, was a great teacher and still scouts today. From early in my high school career he never gave me anything. He knew my dad and knew who his friend was, yet he still made me work to earn a place on the varsity.
Speaking of my dad's friend, Tommy Lasorda, from my dad's hometown of Norristown, Pa., the town in which I was born. But his personality and toughness were larger than life. He eventually went on to a professional career and to this day, is not only famous for being a Hall of Fame big league manager, but by being sent down so that the Brooklyn Dodgers could make room for Sandy Koufax.
Tommy Lasorda was always in my corner. He believed when he watched me hit at a young age of 14 that I could play Major League Baseball. Tommy, you were always there for me. You made me your batboy when the Dodgers were in Philadelphia. You always sent me baseball equipment when I needed it. You convinced the Dodgers to draft me. You gave me Big League at‑bats in Spring Training when I was a green wide‑eyed kid out of Junior college. You went to bat for me when I walked away from the game. You convinced the Dodgers to let a very popular catcher in Mike Scoscia go so that a veteran pitching staff would know that I was their catcher, my rookie year, no matter how many mistakes I made or how inexperienced I was.
And speaking of experience, I was blessed to have a demanding pitching staff, with such names as Orel Hershiser, Kevin Gross, Ramon Martinez, and Tom Candiotti. Tommy one day consoled me when I was having‑‑ when I was really struggling to catch his knuckleball and throw out runners by saying, Mike, I don't give a crap if you ever throw anybody out, just go out and hit me a three‑run home run.
Tommy was always there for me like a guardian angel. After high school he sent me to the University of Miami and after a less than a stellar freshman season in which I went 2‑9 with know RBI's, Tommy sent me to Miami Dade Community College, North Campus, where I played for Dr. Demi Maneri, the all‑time winningest coach of Junior College baseball. Doc played me at first that season. I hit a respectable .360 and started showing some power. Doc's son, Paul Maneri, was the head coach of St. Thomas University at the time, and he was amazingly supportive and told me no matter how frustrating baseball could be, you need to go on keep going and keep playing.
Speaking of playing, Tommy, my father, and then coach Joe Ferguson started kicking the idea around of me possible playing catcher. He convinced them that scouting director, Ben Wade, to waste a late‑round, and I mean, late‑round draft pick on me. And so began my adventure in professional baseball.
I was fortunate enough to have Johnny Roseboro and Kevin Kennedy as my first catching instructors. I could still remember the pain of blocking balls by the machine and lying in bed at night, but it wasn't all bad, I actually got the chance to hit batting practice off the great Sandy Koufax. A little benefit of being with the Dodgers.
Tommy then sent me down to the Dominican camp of the Dodgers Campo Las Palmas in the Dominican Republic to pick up valuable experience and communicate with Spanish speaking pitchers. One happens to be here behind me, Pedro Martinez.
(Speaking in Spanish)
I returned to the states with more confidence and the belief that actually I can do this thing. Catching that is. One spring training early in my minor league career, I noticed a rather imposing hitting coach around the cages. He strutted around like a peacock, he had that drill sergeant voice, and if you said something he disagreed with, he would snarl at you and your spine would shrink. He was Reggie Smith.
There is a handful of people in your life who change the direction of your destiny. Reggie was this for me.
He originally came up with the Boston Red Sox with Ted Williams as his hitting coach. And I was so fortunate to have Ted Williams give me a private hitting lesson at 15 years old, as you saw in the video. There's no greater experience than a 15‑year‑old inspiring here to get a lesson from the greatest hitter of all time.
Reggie knew right away that I had something you couldn't teach, power. And he wasted no time working with me in the cage refining my swing and making it shorter. He knew my swing at the time was too long, and he had to is shorten to make it quicker. He did this with a series of drills and disciplines he learned as a player in Japan. I responded, worked, and started to get it.
One drill actually on a tee, I could eventually square up a line drive with my eyes closed. Reggie so much cared about me, the one year I was frustrated and quit my minor league team, he actually came to my house and told me I was coming back and to do exactly what the Dodgers said.
Reggie, thank you for this and thank you for helping me. You are a great hitting coach, but the biggest lesson that you taught me was how to get through the game of life and to never quit.
Another coach I wish to thank is Dave Wallace. He also convinced me to come back the time I quit. He was my pitching coach with the Mets a couple of years, and I very much enjoyed working with him. Dodgers had an amazing major and minor league camp in Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida.
Joe Ferguson worked with me to refine my catching skills and being a converted catcher of similar size, helped me catch according to my body type. Maybe a few of you remember a scout named Mel, "you bet your bottom dollar" Didier. He was always in my corner. I want to thank him, he got me through the toughest times in the Minors when it could have ended all before it got started.
Joe Amalfitano was another coach who helped me tremendously. He was close to about a hundred percent on calling pitch outs. An amazing baseball man.
Our bullpen coach was Mark Cresse, and he actually made Spring Training fun. Go figure.
We had catchers Olympics, where he worked on our skills and prizes at the finish. No one worked harder than Mark. I can't tell you the amount of batting practice he threw myself and the team and it was always straight as a string.
Burt Hooton was a minor league pitching coach and at first was unconvinced that I could be a prospect. Later he told my dad that he thought that I was actually the only prospect on my team and apologized to him.
Burt was also my pitching coach for my one year in Mexicali in the Mexican winter league, and he was a great coach.
As I started to rise through the Dodgers minor league system I eventually became friends with Eric Karros. A slick, slugging first baseman out of UCLA by way of San Diego, Eric won Rookie of the Year in 1992. And pretty much like myself, was a blue collar hard working pretty much self‑made player. And he would actually steal a base on you if you didn't watch him. Eric was kind enough to invite me to live with him and a couple other roommates my rookie year, and we had a pretty good time.
Eric showed me how to be a Big Leaguer. He was a leader in the clubhouse. And pretty much played every day. Eric, you reached out to me, and we had the time of our lives. It was too short, but your kindness and leadership have always been prominent in my memory. You are an underrated player, and I truly believe that you hitting behind me gave me great protection in the lineup and significantly impacted my career.
I always loved seeing you and so happy for your success in your broadcasting career. I love you bro and God bless you and your wonderful family.
It truly was an honor and a privilege to be drafted, signed, and developed by the LosAngeles Dodgers. Mr.Pete O'Malley was a wonderful owner. He was a tremendous family man, who prided himself on having the best possible atmosphere to play baseball in an otherwise quiet town of Vero Beach. I can remember many times when he had BBQ's and parties. It truly was an incredible experience, and I've always cherished and valued my time there. I will always be eternally grateful for the opportunity.
The Dodgers and I parted ways, and then I played a short week with the Marlins before getting traded again. Even though I was there for about a week, I had the privilege to play for an amazing baseball man in manager Jim Leyland. I consider Jim one of the game's true treasures.
A week later at my home in Florida, my life‑long friend and agent, Danny Lozano, which I wish to thank for listening‑‑ for making me listen to him, told me that I was traded to the New York Mets. It was actually the last team that I had managed‑‑ that I had imagined wanted me, but it was the most amazing experience any human being could have.
I can't thank our general manager at the time, Steve Phillips, enough. Steve, you took a chance on me, and I'll be forever grateful. I would also like to thank owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon. No price could be put on the experience of playing in New York. Actually, Queens.
We were managed, at the time, by a colorful, unpredictable manager named Bobby Valentine. Bobby, I know we didn't always agree, but you were an amazing motivator, extremely intelligent baseball man, and I can honestly say that you gave the best pre‑game motivational speech I ever heard. Sorry, Tommy.
When I was traded, there was a gutsy, not so big in stature, but big heart left‑handed pitcher named Johnny Franco. He was kind enough to take me into his home and give me his number 31. I know it had special significance to him, but he unselfishly gave it me, and I will always be grateful.
The first game I caught for the Mets that year was pitched by an intimidating, yet cerebral, left‑handed pitcher with a devastating slider named Al Leiter. I never caught someone so intense and with a sense of perfection.
One time, he actually got mad at me because my idol, Mike Schmidt, was on a trip with the Phillies at Shea, and he went down to the tunnel to coach in the cage because it was raining. And I wanted so badly to talk to Schmidtty, that I was actually inadvertently coaching a few of their hitters. And he let me know about it.
We had a wonderful friendship and some amazing times on the road. And I was always ‑‑ can say that it was my biggest honor to catch one of his best pitched games, a one‑game playoff in 1999 against the Cincinnati Reds, in which he didn't shake me off one time. Really wasn't that hard, I just called for a slider.
Al, you're an amazing teammate, loving husband, and amazing father to your children. And I have the highest respect for you.
I was also very fortunate to play with some incredible teammates in New York. Edgardo Alfonzo comes to mind. Mi Panna, Edgardo Alfonzo was a great fielder and clutch hitter. Many times I can remember him picking me up when I failed to come through. As a matter of fact, one memorable three‑run home run that I hit on July 4th in the 8th inning against the Braves, Edgardo actually had an amazing two‑strike hit that tied the game and allowed me to relax and feel more confident at the plate knowing we were tied. A few guys up here know what that means.
How can I put my ‑‑ into words my thanks, love, and appreciation for New York Mets fans? You have given me the greatest gift and have graciously taken me into your family. Looking out, today, at all the incredible sea of blue and orange brings back the greatest time of my life. You guys are serious. We didn't get off on the best foot, but we both stayed with it.
At first, I was pressing to make you cheer and wasn't doing the job. You didn't take it easy on me, and I am better because of it.
Sometimes a jockey whips a horse. It isn't always pleasant to watch, but it gets results. The eight years we spent together went by way too fast. The thing I miss most is making you cheer.
No fans rock the house like Mets fans. You are passionate loyal, intelligent, and love this great game. To be the only second Met to enter the Hall of Fame, following Tom Seaver brings me great pride and joy. And I truly enjoyed Gary Carter's company. He was a wonderful man, a great player, and I miss him.
Unfortunately, it wasn't always the ups and downs of baseball season we experienced. September 11, 2001, is a day that forever changed our lives. To witness the darkest evil of the human heart and witness that as it tore many loved ones from their families will forever be burned in my soul.
But from tragedy and sorrow came bravery, love, compassion, character, and eventual healing. Many of you give me praise for the two‑run home run on the first game back on September 21st to push us ahead of the rival Braves.
But true praise belongs to police, firefighters, first responders, who knew that they were going to die, but went forward anyway.
Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. I consider it an honor and privilege to have witnessed that love. Your families and those left behind are always in my prayers. I pray we never forget their sacrifice and work to always defeat such evil.
I was blessed to play one season in San Diego for a great manager in Bruce Bochy, a cool general manager in Kevin Towers. I always look back on my one year with fondness and affection, wonderful fans and a great place to play. I also got to spend some time with Tony Gwynn, who sadly is no longer with us.
I think he alone cost me about three batting titles. But he brought out the best in me. And I was very pleased the National League batting title will be named after him and the American League title after the amazing Rod Carew.
I couldn't imagine leaving the stage without thanking my family. My father, Vince, was the son of Italian immigrants. He's so proud of his Italian heritage. Un Grazie infintio al Paese Itaslia che ha fatto il regalo di mi Padre.
My dad always dreamed of playing in the major leagues for his All‑American love of baseball. He could not follow that dream as the realities of life and having to support his family forced him to work. He built a great business and employed many people. My father's faith in me, often greater than my own, is the single most important factor of me being inducted into this Hall of Fame. Thank you, Dad.
I know he watched every game, cried when I cried, was angry when I was angry, and celebrated more than I could ever celebrate. He is a man deeply devoted to his family and after having suffered a major stroke a few years ago, is stronger willed than ever. We made it, Dad. The race is over. Now, it's time to smell the roses.
My mother gave me the greatest gift a mother can give a child. She gave me the gift of my Catholic faith. This has had a profound impact on my career and it has given me patience, compassion, and hope. Pope Benedict the 16th said, no one who has‑‑ who says, one who has hope lives differently. Mom, you raised five boys, mostly on your own, and you're always there for me.
One special moment in my memory of my mother, is an ice cold high school game at Owen J. Roberts High School in which I hit two home runs. There were maybe about five or six people watching the game, but as I crossed home plate, I noticed my mom jumping up and down clapping. Mom, you were the glue to our family and a true woman of God. Thank you.
I have the coolest brothers a guy could have. My brother's Vincent, Danny, Tony, and Tommy, I can't think of a time where you guys were not in my corner. You had to put up me with me as a kid always getting more swings than you. And dad making you shag all my fly balls. But you never complained.
When I was feeling depressed about not getting drafted in high school you pulled pooled your money together and bought me a new stereo. You knew how much I loved music. And the bravery you showed while cheering for me in front of hostile Philadelphia Phillies fans is legendary.
We had a lot of fun growing up together. I cherish every minute we reconnect.
My wife, Alicia, is a special woman. I'm privileged to be her husband. I can honestly say I married my best friend. She often jokes we married when my career was, shall we say, in its twilight. But that made it very difficult for her. I'm sure many here behind me struggled a little when our careers ended. Life isn't always easy for a retired ball player.
She has had incredible patience with me and is a loving and giving mother. She often puts people's needs ahead of her own. You have brought joy and fun to my life. I love you very much.
You've also given me the greatest gift anyone could have, the gift of my children. Nicoletta, Paulina, and Marco, your father's love for you is endless. I prey you always have peace and love in your lives always. Go out, dream big, work tirelessly, and love the Lord. It worked for your dad.
We all persevere and breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball Jack Robinson was a leader to us all, as players and a nation. A man of character, courage, bravery, and discipline. He demonstrated that we're all equal on the field and in the locker room. And his lessons are still as important today as they were in the 1940s and 50s. Be humble and true to yourself, be smart in how you behave, make good personal decisions, stand up for what is right.
Above all, my religion is a source of personal strength, not a reason to impose your will or put down those who are different. My belief in God has driven me since my childhood and formed my core values of hard work, faith and belief in yourself. It means feeling a need to give back to your teammates, to your community, to our children. Nobody on this stage with me who has shared this incredible honor got here without teammates, community support, and mentors. We all have a responsibility to future generations.
Shortly after leaving office more than a hundred years ago, President Teddy Roosevelt said:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
I have been devoted to this great game of baseball and it is a worthy cause. We players share our love of baseball with millions of fans. That love bridges generation, impacts lives, and helps heal wounds. I want to thank you all for sharing this with me. God bless you and thank you very much.
JANE FORBES CLARK: As chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it is my honor, Ken, to welcome you into the Hall of Fame family and to invite the commissioner up to read the inscription on your plaque.
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: I would like to thank the Hall of Fame and their staff for an unbelievable weekend here in Cooperstown. I would also like it thank Commissioner Manfred and his leadership in baseball.
I would also like to thank Jane Clark and her staff.
I also like to thank the writers for writing, for ‑‑ for this prestigious honor.
I would also like to thank the families and friends and the thousands ‑‑ I got a couple of these somewhere. I probably got them.
Thousands of baseball fans who traveled all over the country and who are also watching this on MLB Network. I would like to point out one fan, Rob, who traveled 6,000 miles to get here. I just wanted to say thank you.
I stand up here humbled and overwhelmed. The last couple months have been a blur.
From the call from the Hall of Fame to the calls from all the Hall of Famers that are sitting here behind me. I can't describe how that feels, but I can tell you that I was more nervous talking to them than I am now.
There are a lot of people out here who made me the person I am today. Now I can't name them all and I apologize for that, but I will talk about my high school baseball coach Mike Camron and Schmidtty.
When I decided to play baseball, high school baseball instead of going to Spring Training, I went in the bating cage and I swung and missed seven or eight times. And I still remember the lack that coach submit face and Camron's face saying, "And he's supposed to be good?"
I told them, I said, just wait until we get outside. A couple weeks later we were able to go outside and I hit the first couple balls in the trees and I can remember Schmidtty going, "Wow, I think we have got something here."
I want to thank them for being true coaches, for being honest and fair. Thank you.
But it's really ironic that I get drafted by a team that plays all their games indoors.
We have Papa Joe Haden, coach of the Midland Redskins. Papa Joe treated everybody fair. He taught us more about life lessons than baseball. He was more concerned about us being good players, I mean good people than players and winning a championship.
He brought together kids of all colors, backgrounds, and financial status.
Papa Joe is no longer here, he's up there in baseball heaven, coaching third, and smoking a cigar.
And he also wears shorts.
To my dad, who taught me how to play this game, but more importantly he taught me how to be a man. How to work hard, how to look at your self in the mirror each and every day, and not to worry about what other people are doing.
See, baseball didn't come easy for him. He was the 29th round pick and had to choose between football and baseball. And where he's from in Donora, Pennsylvania, football is king. But I was born five months after his Senior year and he made a decision to play baseball to provide for his family, because that's what men do. And I love you for that.
To my mom, the strongest woman I know. Raising two boys, having to be mom and dad. Splitting time to go to one another's games, me and my brother. She was our biggest fan and our biggest critic.
She sat up and did homework with us, stayed up all night when we were sick, and I tell people that I'm more scared of my mom than my dad. Just because she didn't play. And if you don't ‑‑ if you don't believe me, there are a couple of my friends here who can attest to that.
She's the only woman I know that lives in one house, but runs five others. I don't know how you do it, to be able to put your hopes and dreams just to raise two boys and never complain about it. I love you, mom.
To my brother Craig, my biggest competitor, day and night we had these epic battles, whether it was football, basketball or baseball. But no matter what, you never gave up, never gave in. I just have one problem with you: How come when you won all my friends knew about it? And we didn't even have cell phones back then.
You're one of the people who pushed me the most and I will always love you for that. Thank you.
Brian Goldberg. You have been there since day one. We have had a great journey, even though there was some ups and downs. But I can't think of a better friend/agent that I would want by my side other than you. Thank you.
We have also have Lynn Merritt. I can remember the first thing you said to me is that I can't do nothing for you now, but in a few years, if you keep doing what you're doing, I'll keep in touch. That was February of 1991, and look at us now. You've been a big brother, uncle, and on some rare occasions, the voice of reason. A lot of people don't know Lynn.
Trey, Taryn and Tevin, words can't describe how much I love you and would do anything for you.
Trey, you're my little man, my partner in crime. And one day, sitting there on the couch, you took a bat and hit the TV. And your mom got mad at you and then got mad at me and said, asked me why I was not mad and I said, "Girl, you can't teach that swing."
So I got up and bought a new TV.
There's a song by Will Smith that's Just The Two Of Us. There's a part in the song where it talks about driving home after you were born, in the car, and all these cars were passing us up, and he talks about how mad he was. I felt like that on the way home.
Taryn. Daddy's little girl. From the first time you were born I knew that I had to go into protect mode. I didn't even like my teammates who had boys. You taught me how to share and I think I've eaten more french fries over the years than you. So no matter if I went 4‑4 or 0‑4 to hear those words when I came home, "Daddy", made my best days better and my bad days not so bad. Even to this day, when you call me on the phone, my day's a little brighter.
Tevin, seeing you for the first time made my life complete. All my friends called you a mini Denzel. Because you didn't cry or make a sound. You have a great sense of humor, you're caring and thoughtful. Watching you grow up has been nothing but a pleasure and never a dull moment around you. I know your brother and sisters are at school, but you don't have to keep us that busy like they're still at home. So let's make a deal, only two sports at a time, not three and four. People always say that you're the lucky one, but, no, me and your mom are the lucky ones.
Melissa, my wife, my best friend, you wear so many hats at our home. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you and all the things that you've done and continue to do for this family. You are the glue that holds this family together and the light when it's dark. People say that you're lucky, well that's not true, I'm the lucky one.
From the first time I saw you I knew you were going to be my wife. Now, it took you a little longer to realize that I was going to be your husband, but I'm okay with that now. I love you.
I would now like it thank the Seattle Mariner organization for taking a chance on a 17 year old kid and allowing him to continue to play this great game of baseball.
See, in the winter of '86, I remember being in my garage and Bobby Tolan saying to me, "Hey, the Seattle Mariners have the first pick and they're looking at you." I walk in my house and look at my dad and say, "Hey dad, where's Seattle?"
See, at that time they were a young franchise and I really only cared about where my dad was at. So if he was with the Yankees, I was a Yankee fan. If he went to Atlanta, I was an Atlanta fan. The only person I knew on that team was Bobby Brown, not the singer and not the American League President. And the only reason I knew him was because he played with my dad on the Yankees.
In 1989 I made the team out of Spring Training, not sure of what kind of player I would be. But at 19 all I wanted to do was survive. Even though I had been around baseball all my life doesn't mean that I have arrived.
Some of the men who helped me are here today. Ricky Henderson. Ricky, I'm still looking for that rematch. See, he beat me in a game of horse when I was 14 years old, made a jump shot, drove off in his car, and never gave me that rematch.
Well, Ricky, I know where you're going to be July 2017, and I'm bringing my shorts.
Ozzie Smith, the wizard.
Dave Winfield. As my dad referred to him as Big Blood.
Eddie Murray. I met Eddie when I was 12. And it was in a back field in Fort Lauderdale. And my dad introduced me, he goes, this is one of the hardest switch hitting guys in baseball. And I stuck my hand out and he shook it. And he didn't smile.
See, Eddie had a beard, a goatee, and a fro. And as we're walking off I asked my dad, "Does he smile?" My dad replied back, "He did smile. He is smiling."
And I turned around and I looked back at my dad and I go, "I would hate to see him mad."
Randy Johnson. Now every lefty wanted to take a day off when he pitched. Even we did. But you guys think it was bad, we had to face him when he had no control in Spring Training.
Today‑‑ I got more friends‑‑ Alvin Davis, Harold Reynolds, Dave Valle, Jeffrey Lenard, Mickey Brantley, Darnell Coles, Chili Davis, Kirby Puckett. These guys were like my big brothers. They took me out to lunch and dinner, made me share rides with them in the cab and drilled me on life problems. The only problem is, you tell me what 19‑year‑old in the big leagues has life problems?
Then we have Jay Buhner. As we referred to each other as brothers from a different mother. He was the greatest teammate I ever had. A guy that gave you everything on the field and a guy that spoke the truth, even though you didn't want to hear it. And I love you for that.
Looking back, I got to do and say things that have never been said. I got a chance to play with my dad. I got to yell at him and tell him to get a hit. And in baseball there's certain things of, you can call somebody a fossil, gray beard, grandpa, dad, pops, but I got a chance to say it and mean it.
We hit back to back home runs. We're the first father and son to win MVPs in All‑Star Games.
Hitting the warehouse in Baltimore.
Winning a Home Run Derby in Pittsburgh in my home state.
The '95 series.
Randy Johnson's no hitter.
Jay Buhner hitting for the cycle.
And Edgar Martinez winning his first batting title. And, yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
And there's Barry Larkin. I was in the clubhouse when he hit his first grand slam. Getting hot chocolate.
But I've known his family since I was 12, his younger brother Byron took care of me as a freshman. And then I had to take care of his younger brother, Steven. I want to thank them for opening up their homes and making me who I am today.
I got to play this game for 22 years. And I wouldn't trade it in for anything. I spent eight years with the Reds. I got to put on the same uniform as my dad and run around in the same outfield.
I got a front row seat to the greatest team ever assembled, the 1975 and 1976 Reds. As a member of the Reds I was often teased by my teammates saying that my dad played for the Big Red Machine and you're the engineer to the little red caboose.
Chicago White Sox. I had a chance to play meaningful games day in and day out. What else can you ask for as a player. Thank you.
13 years with the Seattle Mariners.
From the day I got drafted until my first at‑bat in the Kingdome, to the '95 playoffs, to my first trip back to Seattle as a member of the Reds and my return to Seattle in 2009, to my retirement in 2010, Seattle, Washington has been a big part of my life.
There are so many great things that I could talk about, but we would be here all day. So I am going to leave you with one thing:
Out of my 22 years, I've learned that only one team will treat you the best, and that's your first team. I'm damn proud to be a Seattle Mariner.
The two misconceptions of me are I didn't work hard, and that everything I made it look easy. Just because I made it look easy doesn't mean that it was and you don't work hard and become a Hall of Famer without working day in and day out.
I want to thank my family and friends, the fans, the Reds, the White Sox and Mariners for making this kid's dream come true. Thank you.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Ladies and gentlemen, the national baseball Hall of Fame class of 2016. Thank you.
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