|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
July 29, 2017
Cooperstown, New York
THE MODERATOR: Let's begin with the class of 1972, Sandy Koufax; class of 1981, Bob Gibson; class of '82, Frank Robinson; class of '83, Juan Marichal and Brooks Robinson; class of 1987, Billy Williams; class of 1989, Johnny Bench; class of 1990, Joe Morgan; class of '91, Rod Carew, Fergie Jenkins, and Gaylord Perry. To the class of 1992, Rollie Fingers; class of 1997, Phil Niekro; class of '98, Don Sutton; the monster class of 1999, beginning with George Brett, Orlando Cepeda, Nolan Ryan, and Robin Yount; the class of 2000, Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez; the class of 2001, Dave Winfield; the class of '02, Ozzie Smith; the class of 2003, Eddie Murray; the class of '04, Dennis Eckersley; the class of 2005, Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg; class of 2006, Bruce Sutter; class of 2007, Cal Ripken, junior; class of 2008, Goose Gossage. To the class of '09, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice; class of 2010, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog; class of 2011, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick; class of 2012, Barry Larkin. To the class of 2014, starting with Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony LaRussa, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas; class of 2015, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, and John Smoltz; class of 2016, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Mike Piazza; and the class of 2017, starting with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Iván Rodríguez, John Schuerholz, and Bud Selig.
Now, please 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, and please also welcome the president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Patrick Saunders, the stepdaughter of the 2017 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bill King, who's being honored posthumously, Kathleen Rowenthal; the 2017 J. T. Taylor Spink Award winner, Claire Smith; and the 2017 Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Rachel Robinson, and presenting a special recommendation of the film "A League of Their Own" which debuted 25 years ago this month, Hall of Fame board member Thomas Tull.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give them a big round of applause.
It is now my pleasure to introduce you to a very special person. She's been involved with the Hall of Fame for her entire life, cares deeply for the museum, our Hall‑of‑Famers, and the village of Cooperstown, continuing a wonderful family legacy that began with her grandfather when he founded the Hall of Fame 75 years ago in 1939. She is a tremendous visionary, a dynamic leader, and she adores the game like all of us. Please welcome the Baseball Hall of Fame's chairman of the board, Jane Forbes Clark.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Thank you, Greg. And welcome to our seventh annual national Baseball Hall of Fame awards presentation ceremony. This afternoon, we pay tribute to the cultural side of baseball, honoring those who have contributed to our love of our game.
We will honor the career of Bill King, who broadcasted Oakland A's games for a quarter of a century, and we will also honor Claire Smith, a pioneering baseball writer who continues to make her mark today.
This afternoon, we will also pay tribute to Rachel Robinson for her extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball's positive impact on society. And we will end with a salute to one of baseball's greatest films, "A League of Their Own," on the 25th anniversary of its release.
To begin this afternoon's program, I would like to call your attention to the video monitor for a short presentation about 2017 Ford C. Frick Award winner, Bill King.
I'd now like to invite the vice‑chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Joe Morgan, to tell us a bit more about Bill King.
JOE MORGAN: Thank you, Jane. It is indeed an honor for me to present this award. I've had the opportunity to present this award to a lot of the Bay Area legends that I grew up listening to, and had a chance to work with one, Jon Miller. But Bill King is in my mind truly a man for all seasons because he taught me how to listen to Warrior basketball, A's baseball, and the Oakland Raiders. So this is, again, a great honor for me.
For a generation of Bay Area fans, Bill King was the voice of sport, and as a narrator for some of the finest Oakland Athletics teams ever to take the field, King's work became synonymous with excellence. King began his career recreating events on Armed Forces Radio during World War II. Chasing his dream of becoming a broadcaster as soon as he was discharged from the military, he called games at Bradley University and at the University of Nebraska before heading to San Francisco in the late 1950s.
There King found work as a play‑by‑play voice on the Giants' broadcast, learning his craft from legends Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons. When the NBA Philadelphia Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962, King landed their radio job. Then in 1966, he was hired to call games of the Oakland Raiders, whose run of excellence spanning their AFL and NFL days put King behind the microphone for some of fastball's most memorable moments.
In 1981, Bill returned to his baseball roots when he joined the Oakland Athletics radio team. For the next 25 seasons, he described the fortunes of an Oakland franchise that electrified baseball in the Billy Ball era in the early 1980s.
The A's thrashed the competition from 1988 to 1990 with three straight American League Pennants and the 1989 World Series crown, and then revolutionized the game with new statistical analysis in the earliest years of the 21st century.
Through it all, King's passionate delivery, dedicated preparation, and ever‑present exclamations of "Holy Toledo" kept fans glued to their radios all night long. His one‑of‑a‑kind style and animated descriptions of the action made him the author of signature calls that live in Athletics' lore. With the turn of the phrase as taut as his signature handle bar mustache, Bill King became the prince of the airwaves for Northern California listeners, and now I would like to invite his daughter to come up.
KATHLEEN LOWENTHAL: I think this is a Holy Toledo moment. It is for me. Holy Toledo. I am incredibly honored to be here at the Baseball Hall of Fame to accept this year's Ford C. Frick Award on behalf of my stepfather, Bill King. I'd like to acknowledge and congratulate my stage mates Claire Smith and Rachel Robinson. I'd also like to thank Jane Forbes Clark and Jeff Idelson and the whole Hall of Fame staff for hosting this amazing annual gathering that celebrates the very best of America's national pastime.
And a very special thank you to the Frick voting committee with a special nod to San Francisco Bay Area hometown kid and Baseball Hall of Fame award‑winning announcer Jon Miller, who couldn't be here today. If Bill were here today, I know that he would also like to give a very special nod to his close friend and Warriors broadcast partner Hank Greenwald. I cannot begin‑‑ there's a very special person. I cannot begin to thank enough who persistently campaigned to get Bill into the Hall of Fame, and that's Bill's broadcast partner Ken Korach, who not only wrote the book and worked with Bill for the last 10 seasons of his life, but who literally wrote the book on Bill, "Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic." Both Ken and I have been asked many times how we think Bill would have responded to being honored with this Frick Award, and it's really strange to be asked how you think someone else who respond to something as momentous as receiving this honor from the Baseball Hall of Fame, especially someone like Bill.
Everyone who knew Bill from his fans to his colleagues to his friends, they all have an opinion about how they think Bill would have responded. It is pretty well‑known that Bill had Anna version for authority, a disregard for convention, yet when it came to baseball, Bill had a tremendous amount of respect for the traditions of the game.
And both Ken and I know that Bill would have been incredibly moved and honored by this Frick Award. Bill never sought out awards of any kind, but he was only human, and he certainly enjoyed the accolades, but never in a million years did he believe that he would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
When people would bring it up, he would brush it aside, and fans and friends and colleagues brought it up all the time. Even I did.
Bill loved broadcasting. He just really loved talking to you. Bill once told the San Francisco Examiner reporter, "To not be able to verbalize is almost crippling to me," and he was always verbalizing. He was an expert verbalizer.
When the Haas family brought Bill on board in 1981 to broadcast the A's games with Lon Simmons, another Frick Award winner, Bill was already announcing for the Golden State Warriors and the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders. Adding baseball to his already demanding schedule meant there would be no more summertime cruises on my parents' sailboat, which was a very important part of my parents' life. Ultimately A's team president Roy Eisenhardt had to win over my mom before Bill could commit. Roy still winces when recounting negotiations with my mother.
Joining the A's meant that Bill was broadcasting year‑round, the Warriors, the Raiders, and now the A's. But you have to remember, as much as Bill loved announcing basketball and fastball, Bill's first love from the time he was a young boy back in Bloomington, Illinois, was baseball, so now his career not only encompassed America's three major sports, but now it had come full circle and he was back in the game of baseball.
Those early days with the Oakland A's were especially heady times with Roy Eisenhardt, the Haas family, Andy Dolich, Sandy Alderson and Billy Martin. Throughout his career with the A's, Bill enjoyed a really strong rapport with the A's managers, Tony LaRussa, Art Howe and Ken Macha. He always looked forward to his pregame interviews with the managers, and ultimately Bill was with the A's for 25 years.
During his career in sports broadcasting, Bill ended up announcing championship games for the Warriors, the Raiders, and the Oakland A's, but he is also the only announcer to ever receive a technical foul in basketball. The only one.
Growing up, I never paid much attention to sports. Baseball was just something Bill did for a living. However, as a teenager, I quickly figured out that my easy access to professional sports games gave me a great advantage in attracting boyfriends.
I didn't really start paying attention to baseball until the 2005 season. Bill had injured himself during Spring Training. The pain was bad enough that he couldn't drive to the baseball games but not bad enough to keep him from broadcasting. So I arranged to drive Bill to all of his home games, all 81 of them. Being at the ballpark for all those games was the first time it really struck me just how much Bill's colleagues and fans loved and respected him.
I was amazed when sitting in the stands during the game I would see people watching the game live at the ballpark and still listening to Bill with their earbuds connected to their radios. The fans could not get enough of Bill, even though they were at the game, they still wanted to hear what Bill had to say about what they were seeing.
And then, of course, there were the people at home watching the game on TV with the sound off so they could still listen to Bill on the radio. Bill had a really special relationship with his audience. He told me one time that he would have one person in mind when he was broadcasting, and I think that's why his broadcasts came across so personal as if he was talking to you. He loved to be able to tell you what he was seeing on the field, and he saw everything, sometimes before it even happened.
Watching and listening to the interaction in the radio booth, that was the privilege of driving Bill. I got to be in the radio booth. Watching the interaction of the radio booth between Bill and his broadcast partners Ken Korach and Ray Fosse and his engineers Mike Baird and John Trinidad and his broadcast manager Robert Guan and pregame host Marty Lurie, this was such a treat. Bill relished this interaction, and these men really enjoyed each other and loved what they were doing. The love and admiration they had for Bill was palpable.
After the announcement came out last December that Bill was going to be honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Frick Award, a group of friends and colleagues gathered together in San Francisco, organizers christened the party "a celebration for Bill King, the most interesting man in the world."
Yes, Bill was a pretty interesting character, a real original, but in truth he was really the most interested man in the world. His curiosity was boundless. Bill didn't just have interests. Bill passionately threw himself into his interests. He was passionate about sailing. He owned a beautiful sailboat and cruised up and down the Pacific coast and over to Hawai'i and back. He was passionate about ballet and was a founding board member of San Francisco's Smuin ballet. He loved opera. He loved jazz. He was passionate about the fine arts and would spend hours in art museums all across the country and eventually became a very good landscape artist himself.
His interests in Russian history inspired him to learn the Russian language. All of his varied interests and his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and his voluminous vocabulary made him the broadcaster he was. Bill really loved announcing baseball. Baseball was Bill's first love, and even after a lifetime of announcing sports, he honestly could not imagine his life without announcing baseball.
Bill only visited Cooperstown once, in 2004, when A's closer Dennis Eckersley and Bill's former A's broadcast partner Lon Simmons were both honored. Until the day he died, he was still exhilarated by his visit to Cooperstown.
I was stunned when Bill passed away in October of 2005 by the fans' outpouring of emotion. It was as if the fans had lost a family member. The grieving went on for weeks, and in the newspapers, especially on talk radio shows, it was inconceivable that Bill's voice could be silenced. Never in a million years did Bill imagine that he would some day be honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and I really wish that he could walk out of that Iowa cornfield right now and see for himself the tremendous respect and fondness his fans and colleagues still hold for him today.
JANE FORBES CLARK: I would like to call your attention again to the video monitor for a short presentation about the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, Claire Smith.
I'd like to ask Patrick Saunders, president of the Baseball Writers Association of America to please join me to talk about Claire and her legendary career.
PATRICK SAUNDERS: Thank you, everybody. From the time she learned of Jackie Robinson's trailblazing spirit, Claire Smith was hooked on baseball.
Today, Smith joins Robinson as a pioneer of the diamond, becoming the first woman to win the game's most celebrated writing award.
Raised outside of Philadelphia, Smith came of age during the Civil Rights Movement and found a hero in Jackie Robinson. After initially envisioning a career in public service, Smith found her calling at Temple University in a journalism class.
Soon her twin passions of baseball and writing converged at the Philadelphia Bulletin where she established herself as a versatile pioneer and writer with a deep love for the national pastime. In 1982, Smith moved to the Hartford Current and its new Yankees beat, hurtling herself into the middle of the turbulent Bronx Bombers' seasons of the 1980s.
By the final years of the decade, Smith had become one of the first national baseball writers, stepping away from the daily coverage to Chronicle the game's biggest stories.
Smith moved to the New York Times in 1990 as a national baseball writer, then returned home in 1998 with the Philadelphia Enquirer. She was a respected voice during the coverage of performance enhancing drugs in the mid‑2000s. After an appearance on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball where she discussed the career of Hall of Famer Effa Manley. Smith joined ESPN as a news editor for the network's baseball platforms. Smith's firm, yet fair and objective approach and her quest for objective prose established her as one of baseball's most respected journalists.
Ladies and gentlemen, Claire Smith.
CLAIRE SMITH: If I could open with a personal aside, I'm putting this hat on, ladies, so I can take it off and say hats off for Katie Feeney.
Thank you, Patrick. Thank you, Jane. Thank you, Jeff, and the entire Hall of Fame staff. This has been magical, and I so appreciate it, as do the numerous members of my family who are sitting here today.
Like a pebble in a pond, the honor of being named the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner sent out the most beautiful ripples which are now washing up on the shores of Lake Otsego, and they magically carried my family and me to the most memorable moment of my career.
To the BBWAA, to paraphrase dear, dear Yogi Berra, I want to thank you for making this day necessary. This day, I am here not to ask tough questions but to answer one asked by my son Joshua after an amazing announcement and ensuing flood of congratulatory messages rendered me speechless last December. Spink Award winners, my heroes were applauding me. The world was upside down. Finally Josh asked, "What does this mean to you?" I didn't know. I couldn't tell.
So many extraordinary names are attached to this award. Damon Runyon, Grantland Rice, Wendell Smith, Red Smith. Those are real wordsmiths. Me, I'm just named Smith. Yet here we are, Josh Smith, and because you want a response, I will attempt to answer.
First, look where we are: Beautiful memory‑encrusted Cooperstown. Can't you feel the spirit of Jackie Robinson in the gentle breezes? And Larry Doby, Mr.Rickey, and Roberto? Feel that warmth? Must be the million‑dollar smiles of Kirby, Tony Gwynn and the Kid, or the gigantic personalities of Pops, Big D, and Buck O'Neil.
I can just imagine mom up there chatting with Katie and little Nuxy, or dad staring down Joe Black. Dad knows Joe, that my mom had a mad crush on you when you were both at Morgan State, and he knows that you eyed her 40 years later at a writers' banquet and made a move. Behave, big fella, you're supposed to be in Heaven, you know.
Josh, when we're here, you can't help but feel the angels on your shoulders, for this is baseball heaven on earth. Gaze upon these Hall‑of‑Famers.
Gentlemen, many believe that your plaques say it all, and that's not even close. Hank, Willie, Frank, Robby, you are lions. Sandy, sweet‑swinging Billy Williams, Joe, Nuxy, Suds, all of you, there will never, ever be any others quite like you.
It's been such a privilege to have covered so many of you, and please don't let this get out, Ozzie and Goose, but this really never gets old.
Now I sit here on this day with Kathleen, with Mrs.Rachel Robinson, my hero and my friend, Kathleen, the family of Bill King, the Ford C. Frick Award winner. This is unbelievable.
Such settings never fail to make one's fingers itch and make me wish for a keyboard or typewriter. I happily inherited that hunger from your grandparents, Josh. William Smith was a magician with paints and pencil and paper. He could spin a tale but not without illustrating it first, mixing pictures with prose. Was it any wonder that he married a chemist, Bernice Eximiny Smith, a stroke of genius here, an idea there, and mix, mix, mix, she and her peers at General Electric invented instruments, including a fuel cell used in the missile that carried John Glenn into space. Talk about hidden figures.
Now, I couldn't put a brush to canvas, and I won't even talk about my chemistry grade, yet your grandparents gave a shy elementary schooler an antique typewriter, showing a budding storyteller another way to create, and for years I typed and dreamed, and like Mom, I developed a deep love for baseball and the Dodgers, as her heroes, Jackie and Rachel, became mine. Mom, we were always on the same page, almost, except for that one day back in the early 1960s, double‑header, Connie Mack Stadium, Koufax, Drysdale, Bunning, Roberts. That was a Dodger fan dream come true, especially when after the fact the Dodgers won both games.
But who did mom take to those games? Little brother Bart, because, wait for it, ladies, he was a boy. Sandy, do you see Bart here? Glad bless him, he's sitting on a beach in Jamaica trying to figure out what the Sixers are going to do this year.
I can remember exactly when I started to dodge bedtimes by hiding under my sheets to listen to the late games on my transistor radio. What else could a Dodger fan do when trapped deep in Philadelphia Phillies territory? I even listened to the French language broadcast from Montreal. I'd like to say that helped me with my French grades, but little Ensieur didn't fit into the curriculum.
Occasionally I'd even listen to the games from the other league, from a mythical place like Yankee Stadium, games called by White and the Scooter. Those huckleberries. The sporting news was my bible. The dailies were must‑reads. Brothers Bill and Bart grabbed the funnies, I hogged the sports sections. I knew Dave Anderson, Jerry Eisenberg and Dick Young before I ever met them.
It would take some time, though, before I knew myself, Josh. Feeling lost and invisible, I dropped out of college, worked in retail until dad, God bless him, said, please tell us, what is it that you want to do, and I finally said, work in baseball. He said, go do it. We've got you.
So I returned to school, to Temple University. I took one mandatory journalism class, and my life changed forever. I would write about baseball.
So I cut my teeth at hometown papers, the Bucks County Courier Times and the Philadelphia Bulletin, awaiting my chance, and it finally arrived in 1982. The Hartford Courier hired me and I inherited the Yankees beat midway through the 82 season, becoming a first woman to cover a Major League team full‑time.
I was recently asked about the memories of that first. I have walked into a different reality all right, but it had nothing to do with gender. Remember, the circus was in town. George employed three managers, six pitching coaches, and over 50 players that season. I doubt many Yankees even noticed me as they were hanging on for dear life. Right, Willie? Right, Winnie?
But as you can see, Josh, I made it through that year and 34 more. Thanks to my wonderful peers at the New York Times, the Philadelphia Enquirer, and now ESPN. Throughout my career, all I've wanted to do was go to work, do my best to get it right, then look in the mirror and ask, Mom, Dad, did I do you proud? And I wanted to be able to look you in the eyes, Josh, and ask the same. Then Mr.Spink's award came along.
Journalists, some young enough to be my children, began to reach out as I visited campuses and events hosted by the Robinson Foundation, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Association for Women in Sport Media. Many of those youngsters spoke of research papers and articles they'd written about me, and now they were lining up to thank me for somehow having inspired them. Talk about missing the lead. Somehow I must have touched something within these youngsters, and I never even knew it. Perhaps the enthusiastic young women who came up and called my auntie and asked to pose with me for selfies saw someone who helped open a bit wider a door that had once been closed altogether. They were cherishing these encounters much the way I had when the first met Jane Gross and Robin Roberts.
Perhaps reporters of color are of a time when there were no reporters who looked like them at all. They listened to my story and hopefully realize that while present day may not be perfect, times ain't what they used to be. That's surely what I learned when listening to my parents' life stories.
What has this younger generation given me in return? The realization of just how one's reach can exceed his or her wildest imagination, for someone is always watching it seems and just may be ready to follow our lead.
Jackie, Doby, Frank, Rachel, Roberto, Mom, Dad, you sure already knew that. You likely just wanted to go to work, too. Yet you were on my Mount Rushmore, because you shattered barriers for the sake of those waiting to follow. Such warriors were often lonely but seldom alone. Thankfully I was never alone. Writers with their billions of barrels of ink and twice as many hugs were and are always there. Bless you all.
Editors like the late Bob Wright and John Passo were in awe not only of my foundation but my family.
Then there was the army of the willing, fittingly in uniform. Every writer has his or her top go‑to guys. Mine‑‑ I brought this. This is my father's painting of Don Baylor, Ruth, who could not be here today. Willie Randolph, take a bow. Donny Baseball, Senior, Johnny B., Dusty Baker, Stu, and so many, many more.
Steve Garvey, are you here? Stand. No, stand. Please stand. Just the way‑‑ just the way you stood for me when salvaging the worst day of my career. After I was kicked out of the clubhouse during the 1984 postseason due to gender, Steve came out to the tunnel to assure I would have postgame quotes. When he saw that he was becoming emotional after having been manhandled, he uttered the most important words an athlete ever said to me: "I will stay here as long as you need me to, but remember, you have a job to do."
The human touch. The human touch. We all need it, Josh. When Fay Vincent and Len Coleman joined to bring the Negro Leaguers here for a reunion in 1991 to honor an oft‑forgotten class, the then‑commissioner issued a first‑ever official apology to victims of baseball's most abhorrent era. Then Mr.Vincent led teams to offer ex‑players and their spouses health insurance for life. Union chief Donald Fehr and the players joined into that fund, joined in with contributions to that fund. Simple gestures, no, much more. Covering for the Times, I saw many an elderly man and woman weep. Closure long overdue but closure nonetheless.
Josh, that's what we do, shine the light where it needs to be shone. That's why I'm proud to be a reporter, a reporter I pray who continues to stand tall not only as a journalist but also as a woman of color, because that matters greatly. Today I humbly stand on this stage on behalf of every single person in my profession in baseball and beyond who was stung by racism or sexism or any other insidious bias but persevered. You are unbreakable. You make me proud.
In closing, let me congratulate the class of 2017, so well‑deserved, and I want to thank my family and friends who I hold in my heart. Hawk, my baby brother and my hero, Bart, my beautiful dreamer who stole my double header but I still cherish you. Thank you, Groove, my gentle giant, and Sophia, for believing in me. Alfie, thank you for teaching me how to laugh again and to hear the music again. Most of all, thank you, Joshua. Every time you smile, you make the man in the moon wink and you melt my heart.
As for your question, what does this mean to me, it means the world. Thank you.
JANE FORBES CLARK: In 2008, Hall of Fame's board of directors developed the prestigious Buck O'Neil lifetime achievement award. The award is presented to an individual for extraordinary efforts to enhance baseball's positive impact on society. The award is presented at the board of directors' discretion, though not more frequently than once every three years.
Many of you have seen the life‑sized bronze statue of Buck O'Neil. It's located in the Hall of Fame on the first floor, and the plaque behind it and the statue itself serve as the home for this lifetime achievement award. Buck, Roland Hemond, and Joe Garagiola were the first three recipients, and joining them today is Rachel Robinson.
Hall of Fame's board of directors decision to award Rachel with this honor recognizes the profound impact she has had on the game and the universal respect that she has earned. For more than half a century, Rachel has worked tirelessly to raise the level of equality not only in baseball but throughout society. Through her grace, her dignity, her unsurpassed spirit, she continues to show the value, the decency, and the importance of inclusiveness. She personifies the strength of Buck O'Neil, and certainly personifies his character.
To learn more about her life, I would like to ask you to look at the video monitor for a presentation about our 2017 Buck O'Neil lifetime achievement award winner, Rachel Robinson.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rachel Robinson, who is being escorted by Hall of Fame board member, Thomas Tull.
RACHEL ROBINSON: Good afternoon. I'm delighted to be here with you during this year's Hall of Fame induction weekend. I have such fond memories of Jack's induction in 1962. It was a glorious day for our family. I commend Jane Forbes Clark and Jeff Idelson for their exceptional leadership of the Hall of Fame and for their efforts to keep Jack's legacy alive and strong. I'm also honored to receive the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award. Buck O'Neil was a staunch champion of baseball and worked to promote inclusiveness within the sport. So I'm truly gratified to be associated with your recognition of Buck in this way.
I'd like to acknowledge and congratulate Bill King and Claire Smith and congratulate this year's Hall of Fame inductees, especially my longtime friend Bud Selig. Again, I'd also like to offer my deep appreciation for your support of our beloved Jackie Robinson Foundation, which we established 44 years ago to promote education and to nurture the next generation of leaders. We are so proud of the nearly 100 percent graduation rate of our Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars.
I'm also proud that our 1,500 alumni display an ongoing commitment to community service and stay very active in that area.
Finally, I'm pleased to report to you that we have begun construction of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City. I hope to see all of you when it opens in 2019. I don't know if I'll be there. I just turned 95. The museum will expand our mission and give us a venue for vibrant dialogue on social issues, and also a destination for innovative educational programming.
For me, today is a brilliant source of encouragement. I've felt so wonderful since I've been here, and I thank you all.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Baseball and the film industry have had a hand‑in‑hand relationship for decades, and no film has had a greater impact on developing a passion for the game among women than "A League of Their Own." It was 25 years ago that the film debuted, and today it remains such an important part of the cultural landscape of baseball.
I would like to call your attention to the video monitor, again, for a presentation about "A League of Their Own."
To tell us a little bit more about this wonderful film and its impact on society, I would like to invite Hall of Fame board member and the founder of legendary entertainment, Thomas Tull, to the podium.
TOM MURCOTT: Before I reminisce about "A League of Their Own," I just have to take one moment. This is a very special place to me, and having my friend Rachel Robinson and David and Sharon here, the children of Jackie Robinson, is an amazing moment. They gave me the privilege of making the movie "42" with them, and when it was decided that Rachel would accept the award, I had a chance to get to know her and her family during filming, and all I can tell you is that with someone that went through things that would have made, I think, any of us in this stadium bitter and angry, she's the exact opposite. She is the personification of what's good, and I think in this day and age, we can learn a lot from that, so thank you so much, Rachel.
So briefly, I was in college when "A League of Their Own" came out, and because I love baseball and I love movies, I was an easy mark to end up in a theater and didn't quite know what to expect. I remember Tom Hanks playing Jimmy Dugan and letting us all know that there's no crying in baseball, although that's not exactly been my experience. I think I've seen some crying in baseball.
But regardless, it was a remarkable film, and any time you're sitting around talking about the greatest baseball films in history along with "The Natural" and "Field of Dreams," you certainly talk about "A League of Their Own," talked about and exemplified a time in this country that was war‑torn, when there was a lot of angst, and yet baseball was part of the national conversation, and these amazing athletes, these women, under tough circumstances, went out and played the game.
So Penny Marshall made an amazing film, and I found myself leaning into the movie, and instead of thinking about even the life lessons, I found myself rooting for the Rockford Peaches. So with that, it's appropriate that we all take a minute and recognize what a special film this is in baseball history in this special place.
Thank you very much.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Thank you, Thomas. As we conclude, I'd like to ask Kathleen, Claire, Rachel and Thomas to join me so that we can congratulate them one more time. We thank you all so much for coming, and we hope we'll see you tomorrow at 1:30 at the Clark Sports Center when we induct our class of 2017 into Hall of Fame. And now please join us on Main Street for Hall of Fame Parade of Legends, which will start in just a few minutes. Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports