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July 20, 2019
Cooperstown, New York
GREG AMSINGER: Hello, everyone. Good afternoon and welcome to Doubleday Field for the Annual National Baseball Hall of Fame Awards Presentation. Were are delighted to have you here in Cooperstown, New York, the home of baseball.
My name is Greg Amsinger. I work on MLB Network through the show MLB Tonight. Have loads of fun with this beautiful sport. It is a great honor to be here today for this very cool, cool celebration. Think cool thoughts. Cool thoughts.
We have a very special program in store for you, so without further ado, would you like to meet the Hall of Famers behind me? (Applause.)
Let's start with the class 1972, Sandy Koufax.
Class of 1983, Brooks Robinson.
Class of '87, Billy Williams.
Class of '89, Johnny Bench.
Class of 1990, Joe Morgan.
Class of '91, Rod Carew and Fergie Jenkins.
Class of '92, Rollie Fingers.
Class of 2000, Tony Perez.
Class of 2001, Dave Winfield.
Class of 2002, Ozzie Smith.
Class of '03, Ed Murray.
Class of 2004, Dennis Eckersley and Paul Molitor.
Class of 2005, Wade Boggs and Ryan Sandberg.
Class of 2006, Bruce Suter.
Class of '07, Cal Ripkin, Jr.
Class of '08, Goose Gossage.
Class of 2009, Jim Rice.
Class of 2010, Andre Dawson.
The class of 2011, Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick.
Class of 2012, Barry Larkin.
Class of 2014, Tom Glavin, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Joe Torre.
Class of 2015, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz.
Class of 2016, Ken Griffey, Jr.
Class of 2017, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, John Scheurholz, and Bud Selig.
Class of 2018, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Jim Thome, and Alan Trammell.
And it's an honor to introduce for the first time the class of 2019. Harold Baines.
Representing Roy Hallday, his wife Brandy Hallday.
And Mariano Rivera.
Now, also -- oh, my goodness, Phil Niekro, everyone. (Applause.) Everyone, please. (Applause.)
Class of '87, Phil Niekro. My apologizes, Phil. I am so sorry. I blame the golf today.
Now, also please welcome the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Tim Mead. (Applause.)
And the Hall of Fame's chairman the board, Jane Forbes Clark. (Applause.)
Please also welcome the past president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Clark Spencer. (Applause.)
The 2019 J.G. Taylor Spink award winner, Jason Stark. (Applause.)
The former president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Jeff Idelson. (Applause.)
And the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, please give all of them a round of applause, especially Phil Niekro. (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 and cares deeply for the museum, our Hall of Famers, and the village of Cooperstown.
Began with her grandfather who founded the Hall of Fame 80 years ago in 1939. She is a tremendous visionary, a dynamic leader, and she adores the game.
Please welcome the Baseball Hall of Fame's chairman of the board, Jane Forbes Clark. (Applause.)
JANE FORBES CLARK: Good afternoon. Thank you, Greg. Welcome to our Ninth Annual National Baseball Hall of Fame Awards Presentation ceremony. This afternoon we're paying tribute to the cultural side of baseball, honoring those who have contributed to our love of this game.
We will honor the career of Jason Stark, who has covered baseball for more than 40 years. Two-time recipient of the Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year Award as a reporter for the Philadelphia Enquirer before becoming a national voice on ESPN and now at MLB network and The Athletic. (Applause.)
We will also honor Al Helfer, one of the pioneers of baseball broadcasting who received widespread recognition during a career calling games for eight Major League franchises, as well as a five-year stint as the voice of the Mutual Broadcast System, Game of the Day.
We will recognize Jeff Idelson, who retired from his position as president of the Hall of Fame earlier this year after 25 years of service to this institution. (Applause.)
This afternoon we will also hear from a few of our Hall of Fame members about the importance of coaching and its impact on their careers.
Then we're going to have a fantastic parade up Main Street to the steps of the Hall of Fame. We're going to have a great afternoon.
So as we begin, I would like to call your attention to the video monitor for a short presentation about the 2019 J.G. Taylor Spink award winner, Jason Stark.
JANE FORBES CLARK: I would now like invite Clark Spencer, former president of the Baseball Winners Association of America, and representing them here this afternoon, who covered the Miami Marlins for nearly two decades to tell us about Jason Stark's illustrious career. (Applause.)
CLARK SPENCER: Well, I had planned a 15-minute speech, but it's hot out there. So with apologies to Jason, I cut out all the useless info. Jason Stark did more than just cover the game. For more than 40 years, Stark has shared his passion for baseball with millions of readers, and along the way served as an inspiration to a generation of like-mined future right writers.
Stark knew his destiny by the time he reached his teens. With access to some of the best baseball writers from his childhood home of Philadelphia, he focused on a career of his own chronically the national pastime.
Stark studied at Syracuse University before landing his first major assignment at Providence Journal where he covered the Red Sox.
By 1979, Stark had returned home to take over the Phillies beat with the Philadelphia Enquirer.
In 1980 when the Phils capture the franchise's first World Series title, Stark provided the narrative for the city's passionate fan base, which cheered for the never-say-die group of veterans led by Hall of Famers, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt.
Before long, Stark had established himself as a columnist and a leading national voice wired into the baseball infrastructure as one of the game's trusted news breakers.
He joined ESPN in 2000, bringing his sources and his groundbreaking statistical analysis to a new generation of fans who digested and expected their information more quickly than ever.
Stark kept up with the pace, focusing on timely news, as well as numbers that told the underlying stories of the game.
Moving to The Athletic in 2018, Stark's passion and talent burned brighter than ever. As baseball found new ways to interpret the statistics that have always been its backbone, Stark continued to be an early adapter of the newest analytics while never losing his ability to humanize the men and women who power the game.
A baseball renaissance man in an era of continuous change, Stark combines powerful stories with brilliant analysis, delivering it all to his readers through the prism of his love for the game.
Congratulations, Jason. (Applause.)
JASON STARK: Hello, Cooperstown. Thank you to Jane, Jeff, Tim, John, Craig, Whitney, Becky, and everyone at the Hall of Fame. You guys are amazing.
Thanks for treating our whole family like royalty, despite the slight technicality that I saved 652 fewer games than Mariano. Thank you to the baseball writers, my friends, me heros, my teammates, for electing me.
This would be the honor of a lifetime no matter who did the voting, but to be elected by you is as cool as it gets. Because all I ever wanted from the time I was a kid was to be one of you.
Thanks to my friends at The Athletic, ESPN, the Philly Enquirer and the Providence Journal for making all this possible, not just by hiring me but by believing in me.
An extra thank you to these men sitting behind me, the greatest players who ever lived. (Applause.)
Thanks for being such special players and people that we needed to devote a whole town to celebrate all you've done for the game. There would be no baseball shrine in Cooperstown without you, and that would definitely be a blow to my T-shirt collection. I know that.
You know, when I first understood the magic of Cooperstown? It was another induction weekend in 1995. The baseball strike had just ended, and for probably the only the time ever since I started covering baseball, I was a little down.
I was used to living in a world where everyone around me loved baseball. After that strike, I was hearing from fans who told me they would never go to another game. Left me worried.
But then on a broiling weekend in July -- sound familiar? The road led me here to Cooperstown for the induction the two incredible guys from my town, Philadelphia, Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn. (Applause.)
You know what I found? The largest crowd in the history of induction weekends. Wherever I went I ran into fathers and daughters and mothers and sons and grandparents and grandchildren, what felt like every Philadelphia baseball fan I've ever met.
And then it hit me. What were they doing here? As Richie Ashburn said that day, they weren't here for a fireworks show. They weren't giving away bobble heads. They were here for one reason: because baseball wasn't just something that they watched to kill time until Seinfeld came on.
They were here because baseball meant something to them in their actual lives and in the lives of their families, their friends, their kids, their parents. So they had to be here for reasons I bet they couldn't totally put into words.
That, friends, is the beauty of Cooperstown. Some time in our lives we all fell in love with baseball, and we arrive in Cooperstown it brings it all back. It infuses that love, that glow in all of us.
So tonight, when you look in the mirror, remind yourself of that. It's not a sunburn. That's a glow. It's the Cooperstown glow. (Applause.) In my family, we love that glow. We love this town. We love baseball. In my house, baseball isn't just something I write about. It's our family's unifying passion.
We're that family that took the kids out of school every February and enrolled them in Florida because my wife and kids thought it was more important for them to report to spring training than John Kruk and Darren Daulton.
Spring training was no reason to split us all up. It was a special family time to go together. We're that family that took the kids to All-Star games, World Series games, Hall of Fame, because we were the ultimate baseball family.
I can't tell you how much joy I get from the way baseball still runs through our lives. My daughter, Haley, works for Major League Baseball in social media and marketing. She's cool, she's creative. If it was up to her - go Haley - if it was up to her, I can pretty much promise she would let the kids play.
My other daughter, Jessica, works with me at The Athletic in internal communications. She's my consultant on how to connect with that beautiful world out there on our site and on social media and how to always do the right thing.
I can't tell you how proud I am of her and of both my girls. I mean, how lucky am I to work with both of my daughters? Ken Griffey might have hit a homerun in the same inning as his father once, but he never played on the same team as his daughter, right?
My son, Stephen, always has a sparkle in his eye. Maybe that's because he also works in sports as an incredible camera guy who has given me the thrill of sometimes pointing that camera at me. I'm just happy he's forgiven me for abandoning him in the stands of Veteran's Stadium when was five because a Terry Mulholland no-hitter broke out. Somehow he made it home that night without his dad.
Thank you, Barry.
And I managed to write a story that night without a notebook or a computer. They didn't teach me that at Syracuse.
But our lineup starts with my wife Lisa, the real first ballot Hall of Famer in our house. (Applause.)
It was in a press box in Baltimore when I first spotted the smart and gorgeous woman I was brilliant enough to marry. Let me tell you, it's not easy to be the wife of a baseball writer. You would never know it if you spent 30 seconds around Lisa.
She's as excited to go to Cooperstown as a beach town. She still looks at that time she got quoted in a Peter Gammons column as one of her greatest achievements.
She thinks of everyone that works in baseball as family. She's been the true soul of our family. Lisa, nothing I accomplished would've been possible if you hadn't been there to love, inspire, support, and share it with me. I love you more than words can express. (Applause.)
And I'm so lucky that my amazing mother-in-law, Norma is here at 92. (Applause.) I want you to know she still watches every Orioles game. She's the president of the Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, and Adam Jones fan clubs.
And No Truth to the Rumor, my next book will be a recap about my texts with her about the 2019 Orioles. She's my favorite baseball buddy, and it's a thrill to have her here.
I'm here today because I dreamed a dream. Somehow, I wound up doing exactly what I always dreamed of doing from the time I was old enough to dream about doing anything. This was my dream: to be a baseball writer.
On the wall of my office there is a photo of me and my beautiful sister, Karen, walking home from school. I was in fifth grade; she was in fourth. What I wasn't aware of at that moment was that she looked at me at America's foremost authority on baseball.
And the way I found that out was she wrote a sentence which I still find totally amazing. She wrote, If you wanted to know a lot about baseball, my brother would be able to tell you. She wrote that in a composition for school. Later when we were all grown up, she framed that photo and framed that composition and she gave them to me. She saw this coming when I was in fifth grade. (Laughter.)
So every once in a while I ask myself, How did this happen? Who gets to live the life they dreamed of since they were ten years old? I did. (Applause.)
My dad, Ed Stark, was a brilliant guy. He loved bourbon, barbecues, loved science. He was an electronic engineer who worked on the space program, and he loved to lead me and my friends into spirited debates about who had influenced the world more, scientists or artists.
I don't remember baseball players or baseball writers being one of the choices.
My mother, June Herder-Stark, was a writer, an incredible writer, who lived to make us all smile. She taught me to love writing. She read every word in the newspaper every day. When somebody in the sports section wrote a column she thought was memorable, she made sure I read it.
So from the time I was really young I was reading the best sportswriters in Philadelphia, which meant the best sportswriters in America. That's who I wanted to be. When I would go to games as a kid I would bring my binoculars and train them on the press box and try to figure out what the heck they were all doing up there. Good thing nobody ever told me, right? I might have grown up to become an astronaut or something.
But I kept looking at those guys thinking whatever it was they were doing, it couldn't be work, could it? Well, all these years later I've walked out of enough press boxes at 4:30 in the morning to know better. Here is what I tell people about my job. It's a labor of love, and that's a good thing because there is a lot of labor.
But I never think of it as work, because every day I get to do something I love. I can't believe sometimes the things I've seen, these tremendous players that I'm sharing this weekend with, and the unforgettable stuff that's happened along the way.
Not long after I got hired by the Philly Enquirer I covered a manager named Dallas Green. He's famous for many things, but one of them is answering one of my lighthearted questions with three words neither of us would ever forget, Bleep you, Jason. The rest of that answer went on for over three minutes, by the way, and included 42 words you won't be hearing on My Little Pony.
Let me tell you one of the many things I learned from covering Dallas Green. You could get screamed at by the manager for three really loud minutes and you could both get over it. Heck, a few weeks later Dallas gave me a T-shirt that said, Bleep you, Jason, and I still have it. Don't tell my wife.
I've had the privilege of writing about many of greatest players who ever lived. I've also prided myself on making a connection with the funniest players who ever lived. My friend, Larry Anderson, was one of those guys. He probably doesn't even realize this, but one of his quotes changed my life.
He was one of the worst hitting pitchers ever. He told me once, You know, I'm a 308 career hitter. I said, You are not. He said, Yes, I am. I've batted in 13 seasons, I got a hit in four of them, that's 308. I just shook my head.
He said, Hey, make the stats work for you. For the last 25 years, that's been my motto. I don't know how many times my friend Jim Caple and I would laugh about one of those goofy stats that I'm famous for, and then say those words, Make the stats work for you.
Well, I'm still making those stats work for me in my nutty little useless information column in The Athletic. Once upon a time I did that in a column in the Enquirer called, The Baseball Week in Review. Both those columns were dedicated to the idea that baseball can be one crazy sport. I always thought that somebody needed to document all this craziness. Might as well be me.
So when Todd Frazier goes into the stands to catch a foul ball and comes out waving a rubber practice ball to the ump, somebody has to call the fan who brought the rubber practice ball to the stadium so she can tell the world, Hey, my son wants his ball back. So I did that.
When Sammy Sosa hits a homerun that leaves Wrigley Field and crashes through an apartment window across the street, somebody has to spend three days tracking down the guy who lives in that apartment. So, yep, I did that, too.
It turned out to be this dude from France named Philippe Guico (phonetic). He had no idea how this ball wound up in his living room. So I said, Philippe, you didn't notice there was a big field across the street? He said, Oh, I knew the apartment was near the field. I just didn't know baseballs would go out of the field.
My mom once said that I should write a book and call it, I Never Saw This Before. I don't know how those words became the expression that probably that defines my whole career. I just know there is never a day when somebody doesn't come up to me or tweet at me and say something like this: only you would know this.
Then I would spend way too many hours trying to figure out if Bengie Molina was the only guy to get pinch run for in the middle of his own homerun trot, or whether it was Greg Maddux and Curt Schilling who invented love talking.
I don't know why I think it's fun to know these things. Maybe it's because so many people I know who love baseball as much as I do seem to think it's fun, too.
But just because I always aspire to capture that fun doesn't mean I think of baseball as some kind of comedy show. I've always considered it my mission to respect the talents and the great players I've watched and to always remember there is a human being at the other end of every word I've ever written.
To someone who loves baseball in October as much as I do, it's been almost a religious experience to have the honor of right writing about so many of those epic, goosebump moments. These legendary players on this stage were responsible for many of those moments. This is my chance to tell them in person, guys, thank you for those goosebumps.
But remember, behind every one of baseball's greatest moments there is an unforgettable story. Because I'm a writer, I want to take a moment to celebrate the people who spend so many hours at their keyboards telling those stories. I can't tell you what an honor it's been to work alongside Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian, Jerry Krasnik and Buster Olney, Jim Caple and Jim Salisbury, Ken Rosenthal and Matt Geld (phonetic), Scott Miller and Bob Nightingale, Bob Brookover and Tyler Kepner, Nick Cafardo and Jerry Fraley.
My friends, my idols, my faithful press box companions. Only we know what it's like to try to find our way out of the ballparks from coast to coast at 4:00 in the morning. But how lucky were we? We got to tell the story of the greatest games ever played.
Out here in this crowd are some of the greatest editors in my business, from The Athletic where I'm so lucky to work now, and from ESPN where I worked for 17 fantastic years. These are people who have literally lost days, weeks worth of sleep to stay up all night and make sure that when I told those stories, they were accurate, intelligible, and real.
So thank you to them, too. Because you know what passion writers and editors share? We're convinced that those stories matter. So to me, the Spink Award section of this Hall isn't just an exhibit, it a shrine. It's so powerful to read these names and think of what they meant to my profession, what they meant to this game, and how they inspired me to do what I do.
Red Smith. My mother knew Red Smith. Ring Lardner. I still remember my mom and dad giving me a book Ring Lardner when I was 12 and saying, You need to read this.
There is Roger Angel, Jerome Holtzman. My oldest friends in this business, Peter Gammons, Claire Smith, Paul Hagen, Dan Shaughnessy, Bill Madden, so many more.
That exhibit always reminds me that what we the baseball writers do has a special meaning. I'm not one of the Starks from the Game of Thrones, but in the final episode of that show, Tyrion said something that stuck in my head. He said, There is nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.
I've always felt so privileged to tell those stories to so many people who love baseball like I do. It's that love affair that draws us to the real magic kingdom of Cooperstown, New York, today and every day.
So thank you to everyone here and everyone who's lives are touched by that deep love of baseball. You've made my dreams possible. You've made this incredible honor possible. You've made this special day possible. I'll appreciate that as long as I live. Thank you. (Applause.)
JANE FORBES CLARK: Again, I would like to call your attention back to the video monitor for a short presentation about the 2019 Ford C. Frick award winner, Al Helfer.
JANE FORBES CLARK: I would now like to invite the president of the Hall of Fame, Tim Mead, to tell us a little bit more about Al and read the inscription on his resolution.
TIM MEAD: Good afternoon. Before I start, just like to take a quick moment to thank Jane Clark for the opportunity and the privilege to join the Hall of Fame in this tremendous iconic institution and work with the legends of the past and the present.
I would also like to thank Jeff Idelson for all his services through these many years. Thank you both. (Applause.)
In the early 1950s, baseball was unquestioned king in the sports world, and Al Helfer was the voice of the game. Helfer, who called games for eight teams in a broadcast career highlighted by his five-year stint with the Mutual Broadcasting System, Game of the Day; logged millions of miles as a baseball troubadour, while helping the sport evolve into a coast-to-coast phenomenon.
After starting his professional career in pursuit of a medical degree, Helfer turned to newspapers and radio to support himself at the onset of The Great Depression. He called a handful of games for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates in the early 1930s before landing a job with Red Barber on Cincinnati Reds Broadcast in 1935.
The gregarious Helfer, affectionately dubbed Brother Al by Barber, moved to New York City two years later to work for WOR. When the Brooklyn Dodgers brought Barber to New York in 1939, WOR owned the radio rights and paired Helfer with Barber again.
Helfer joined the Navy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and emerged as a lieutenant commander.
Following his service, Helfer called Yankees and Giants games in 1945, wrapping up the year on the Mutual Radio Networks World Series broadcast.
Out of baseball for the next three seasons, Helfer returned in 1949 to call Giants games with Russ Hodges. Then in 1950, Mutual made Helfer the voice of its six-day-a-week Game of the Day broadcast. For the next five years, Helfer criss-crossed the country east of the Mississippi River as Mutual built a roster of a more than 400 stations all outside the ten big league markets that carry games Monday through Saturday.
Known for his rich voice and smooth delivery, Helfer parlayed his talent and fame into additional assignments that included auto racing and college football, as well as hosting the annual Heisman Trophy presentation in New York.
The voice of seven World Series matchups in the 1950s, he retired from the arduous Game of the Day assignment after the 1954 campaign calling Dodgers, Phillies, Colt 45s, and Athletic game over the final years of his career.
On behalf of Jane Forbes Clark and the Hall of Fame, I would like to congratulate the entire Helfer family. Thank you. (Applause.)
JANE FORBES CLARK: Thank you, Tim. This weekend, as the Hall of Fame welcomes our six new members of the class of 2019 and our new president, Tim Mead, we're all saying farewell to a long-serving member of the Hall of Fame family, Jeff Idelson, who retired from his role as president of the Hall of Fame in June.
Since Jeff began his career at the Hall as director of public relations and promotions in 1994, the Hall of Fame has grown in nearly all facets of its operations. As the museum's top ambassador to baseball and to all who love the game, Jeff shared his passion for our national pastime and promoted the importance of the Hall of Fame's mission: to preserve history, honor excellence, and connect generations.
After 11 years as president, Jeff leaves the Hall of Fame in a position to continue that mission. He has made certain that the museum has stayed relevant amidst the changing landscape in baseball history that included a strike-shortened season, Cal Ripken's record-breaking streak, a nationally captivating homerun chase, and championship droughts that ended in Boston and Chicago all against the backdrop of a rapidly globalizing game.
The museum's collection has grown in number to exceed 40,000 artifacts and three million library pieces, while its footprint has expanded to three floors of interactive exhibit spaces. The museum's endowment, now nearing completion, will sustain the institution into its future.
As we look forward to a bright future under Tim's leadership, we are grateful for Jeff's commitment and the leadership that Jeff has provided to the organization over the last quarter century.
So on behalf of the Hall of Fame's board of directors, I would like to present Jeff with a token of our appreciation. (Applause.)
Jeff, come up and join me.
JEFF IDELSON: The key to success and happiness in the workplace is identifying what you love and making a career out of it. That's what today's award writers, Jason Stark and Al Helfer have done, as well as tomorrow's Hall of Fame inductees, Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Arthur Smith. Congratulations to you all. I salute you.
If you can make a career out of what you love and also live where you want to on top of that, you're way ahead of the curve. That's where I've lived, way ahead of the curve here in Cooperstown working for the Baseball Hall of Fame. After eight years with the Red Sox and Yankees, I moved to this beautiful village thinking I would slow my life down for just a minute, and a minute turned into 25 years.
It was a privilege to be a part of an immensely talented Hall of Fame staff, and I am thrilled to turn the reins over to my friend of 30 years, Tim Mead.
I'm eternally grateful to Bill Guilfoyle who hired and mentored me, Ed Stack with whom I worked closely in my early years with te museum, and Jane Clark, who during my 11 years as president guided me with a reverence for the past and a clear vision toward the future. Thank you, Jane.
Cooperstown was an ideal place for Erica and me to raise our children. It's a nurturing village that provides wonderful opportunities for kids to learn and grow. I'm incredibly proud of my two children who are now finding their own passions and charting their own courses.
As Ernie Banks used to say, Aim high. As Carton Fisk says, Dream with your eyes open. Aaron and Nicole, thank you for making me the proudest and happiest dad in the world. (Applause.)
Former pitcher and Yankee bullpen coach, Monk Meyer, once told me that if I can extend two fingers on one hand ans say that's how many real friends you have in life, you're way ahead of the game. There is not enough fingers on this stage to count how many friends I've been able to make in baseball.
I was five years old when I went to my first game at Fenway Park, saw my hometown heros (indiscernible) and Pudge Fisk play. It's funny, because all I remember from that game was the o[posing third baseman, Brooks Robinson, making several great throws.
Years later Brooks told me a story about growing up in Little Rock and having Bill Dickey on his paper route.
When I got to Bill's house, I would always air mail his paper with a little extra zip, he told me. As is the case with everyone on this stage, Brooks' dedication to his craft started early.
When I was 11, the Tigers, Vern Ruhle broke Jim Rice's wrist with a September pitch, which meant no post-season for out left fielder. I took Vern's baseball card, poked the eyes out, and drew horns on his head. Vern, wherever you are, I am sorry.
Little did I know that a decade later I would start my baseball career with the Red Sox and be working with Jim, Wade Boggs, and Tom Seaver, 33 years of lasting friendships.
When I watched Joe Morgan get the World Series winning hit in 1975, I never ever wanted to see him again. Thank God that feeling went I way, because as the Hall of Fame's vice chairman, Joe is a cherished friend and critical thinker who has made Cooperstown an even better place. (Applause.)
I spent five years with the Yankees after the Red Sox and had the good fortune of working side by side with Goose Gossage, Ricky Henderson, Dave Winfield, and Wade Boggs again. By the way, got to love Goose, who's the only player with whom I ever worked who took public transportation to the ballpark with me. No fear.
Working for the Yankees was a virtual training grounds for a career with the Hall of Fame. Whitey, Mickey, Catfish, DiMaggio were in spring training or at old-timers days.
Reggie was elected to the Hall of Fame while I was in New York, and as it happened, the Scooter was inducted on my very first day, the day I started in Cooperstown. I felt right a home back with my guys.
I didn't get to know Yogi until I came to the Hall of Fame, but it was worth the wait. He was always the first to call after Hall of Fame weekend invitations came out, and the first to arrive with Carmen in Cooperstown.
One morning at about 6:00 in the morning, we are sitting on the veranda at the Otesaga, and a light mist was falling. Yogi says to me, How come it always rains Hall of Fame weekend? I explain to him that we are at the base of a nine-mile-long lake and nestled between two mountain ranges, and that at this time of year storms will occasionally slide through. He thinks about that for a minute and says to me, Can't you pick a weekend when it ain't raining? I miss Yogi.
Ernie Banks' eternal optimism was contagious. One afternoon he calls and asks, Who is in charge of the Seven Wonders of the World? While searching online I ask him why. Because they're redoing the list and Wrigley Field has to be on it. (Laughter.)
Robin Roberts once calmly told a nervous me the secret to throwing a ceremonial first pitch. Walk up on the mound and wave, walk down to the flat ground while they're cheering, loft the ball and run as fast as you can to the catcher while it's in the air. That way there is much less time for the fans to boo you when it falls short. Sage advice from the hard throwing right-hander.
I mess visits to Junction City, Oregon, to see the silent captain, Bobby Doerr where he lives in the same house he built for Monica a half century earlier.
I miss Tony Guinn, whose time on earth was way too short, especially for someone who loved to laugh as much as he did. Still blows my mind that the master of the five-point, five-hole had 297 career three-hit games, and only one three strike out game. As Paul Molitor and I once figures out, Tony could have ended his career 0 for 1182 and still hit 300.
When you spend a lot time with your friends, the relationships become deep. You get to know their families and you even get to know their pets. Like Felix Feller, the toughest cat in Ohio, and Giant Mayes, amaze, Willie's dog and trusted companion.
Over Chinese food at Paul's Kitchen in L.A. one night, Tommy Lasorda told me that his granddaughter wanted a new horse because hers didn't jump high enough. I asked him, What did you say to her? Let me talk to the horse, he said with a stern look. Classic Lasorda, the master motivator.
There are a lot of colorful nicknames in the Hall of Fame gallery, some related to go the animal kingdom. The Iron Horse, Baby Bull, Mad Dog, Rabbit, Catfish, Turkey, Goose, and Hawk. It just so happens that the Hawk, Andre Dawson, who has a funeral home in Miami with his wide Vanessa, has a parrot he rescued after a hurricane named PJ. I am still trying to convince Hawk to let me teach PJ to say, Sorry for your loss, sorry for your loss. Any chance? No? Okay.
I too have a nickname given to me my with an affection I was always feel. I was in Panama for a film opening with Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Vera Clemente, and their families. We're at a press conference, and the conversation keeps turning to pollo. I never took Spanish lessons, but I knew pollo meant chicken. So I turned to Vera's son, Luis, and asked why they kept talking about chicken. He scratches his head and then he bursts out laughing when he realized I was confusing pollo with apoyo, which means support.
Since that day, the Latina Hall of Famers, their wives, their kids, their neighbors, their friends, they all cal me Pollo. It's a term of endearment, and I appreciate their apoyo.
I've had a lot of laughs over the years, many of them with Phil Niekro, who is also one of the kindest and classiest guys I know. Fact machine: Thanks to Nucksey, I can name the three Olympic sports you win by going backwards, and the nine body parts that have three letters each. Now you have something to think about when you go home Sunday night or an Monday.
Speaking of humor, an annual spring training dinner and Don and Charlie's with Bob Uecker, Robin Yount, and George Brett was always a highlight of my spring. It's hard to eat when you're constantly in stitches, and dinner always had to be at Don and Charlie's because Uek was into the frog's legs. Go figure.
Then there is Ozzie Smith. He's always have a place in my I heart for many reasons, but mostly because from the moment he was elected to the Hall of Fame he asked to be involved with the Hall of Fame's education efforts. The wizard has truly been one, enhancing the educational profile of the museum greatly. (Applause.)
I've spent a lot time with Rod Carew, who's recovery from a near-death experience has been inspirational. Rod, now you can go out and get that seventh hole in one to match the number of batting titles that you own.
I've spent a lot of quality time with Henry Aaron, none more meaningful than in Mobile, Alabama. That's where he was raised and turned a sliver of opportunity into a Hall of Fame career. Today he remains a lasting symbol of perseverance, hard work, and excellent.
I've enjoyed getting to know these guys and their families. Take the Dominican dandy, who was always brimming with pride. Juan with Alma have been married 57 years, and from visiting them in Santo Domingo, I know their six children, many of their 16 grandchildren, and look forward to meeting their two great grandchildren.
I was even Jim Palmer's best man when he married his lovely bride, Susan, in Cooperstown a dozen years ago. He forgot to remind Brooks and needed a witness. Might have been scored an E1 for Jim, but for me it was a thrill to be filling in for a guy who became my hero when I was five, and to stand with a couple for whom I have tremendous respect.
I'm so glad Johnny Bench was watching the Game of the Week when he was four and found out that you can be from Oklahoma and play in the Major Leagues, like Mickey Mantle did that day. J.B., you were unreal as a player, but you amaze me even more as the loving farther to your three boys. (Applause.)
I'll always be awed by the seven Hall of Fame visits and incredible generosity of Ichiro Suzuki, who will one day join these men behind me. And if you walked out to the back lawn of the Otesaga this weekend, you would find the now and future of baseball. Kids being kids, playing whiffleball and having a blast. It warms my heart to see the next generation of Tom Glavin, Jr., The Big Hurt, Trevor, and 612. 612 is what I call Jim Thome because it's his homerun total and the area code of Minneapolis where he loved to play.
Those kids on the back lawn play with the same love and zeal has their dad's. It's enlightening and heartwarming. It's what I love; it's grassroots baseball at its best.
I have happily moved on to the next chapter of my baseball life. Grassroots Baseball is new venture that acclaimed photographer Jean Fruth and I co-founded. We are promoting the amateur game and helping to grow it in underserved communities. (Applause.)
And whenever I interact with the future of baseball today and reflect on my time with the Hall of Fame, I'm eternally grateful for the resounding effect that my children, the staff, the Cooperstown community, and these living legends have had on my life. Thank you. (Applause.)
JANE FORBES CLARK: There isn't a Hall of Famer on this stage today who wasn't impacted by coaching at the Major League level. Hitters, pitchers, managers, executives, all rely on a strong managerial and coaching staff to set the tone in the clubhouse and provide the foundation of a championship-caliber team.
I would like to call your attention back to our video monitor for a presentation about the importance of coaching.
JANE FORBES CLARK: As we open the conversation about the importance of coaching in baseball, please welcome back to the podium, Greg Amsinger. (Applause.)
GREG AMSINGER: This is a thrill for me. Jane, thank you very much. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to some Hall of Famers who are on stage with us today about the importance of coaching in their careers.
Rod Carew, I want to start with you. We're talking about an 18-time all star, winner of seven batting titles. After your Hall of Fame career you went on to coach for the Angels. How was that transition, and what was your approach as a hitting coach, Rod?
ROD CAREW: Well, it was great. I enjoyed working with the young hitters. They were really good at listening, wanting to learn, and try to take everything that I said.
But I think as someone who likes and loves to be around kids, I think the most important thing about working with young people and being a coach is that we're there to emphasize the good things they do, not to scream and yell at them.
Let them understand that we're here to help. I had two great coaches that I played with, Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew. Harmon and I used to go out and have a lot of ice cream. He thought he could beat me but he couldn't.
Tony Oliva and I roomed for ten years and he taught me about hitting, taught me about the game, and Harmon in retrospect taught me a lot about treating people nice. The words that he used to me one day was, It doesn't cost anything to be nice, and so that's what I think that all of us sitting up here try to do during the course of our lifetime.
GREG AMSINGER: Wonderful. Rod Carew, everyone. (Applause.)
Greg Maddux, Mad Dog, you 355, for ERA titles over a dominant career. You became a coach. Coached Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Currently you have a role in coaching a the University of Las Vegas. Which coaches helped you along the way during your dominant 23 year Major League career?
GREG MADDUX: It was actually a mixture of all of them. It started in the Minor Leagues. I think I was fortunate enough to have some very good coaches. Dick Paul was very big on the list. Billy Connors, Larry Rothschild, Leo Masoni, Aaron Ballsly. I was lucky enough to have a lot of different coaches, and I was able to take a piece of each one and kind of, you know, see what comes out of it.
Just very fortunate that I got a lot of good advice over the years. My coaches were right. They were right on the money. I was very lucky to have them.
GREG AMSINGER: Lucky to have you up here. Greg Maddux, everyone. Thank you, Greg. (Applause.)
Joe Morgan is up next. Again, this is the Hall of Fame vice chairman, Joe Morgan. Two-time MVP, ten-time all star. You were very close with fellow Hall of Fame second baseman, Nellie Fox. Nellie went on to coach after his playing career. What did he teach you that helped you become a Hall of Famer.
JOE MORGAN: Well, I want to preface it by saying growing up I idolized Jackie Robinson and Nellie Fox. Jackie because he made it possible for me to be a Big Leaguer, and Nellie Fox because he played the game the way I wanted to play it. A small guy trying to make an impact.
I went to Houston my first year, and I get to spring training and Nellie Fox is a player-coach. Being honest with you, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Can you imagine that happening to you as a kid, and all of a sudden you're in the Big Leagues as well.
Nellie Fox taught me how to be a Big Leaguer both on and off the field. I have to tell, there was a lot of tough love there, but he and I became like family over those years. Even when he left the Astros after coaching we stayed in touch and was family.
I still am in touch with his wife, Joanne. It was just an unbelievable experience to be taught by someone that you just idolized. Like I said, it wasn't always easy, but he taught me how to play and he taught me, like I say, how to be a Big Leaguer both on and off the field.
GREG AMSINGER: Joe Morgan, everyone. Thank you, Joe. (Applause.)
Go down to Pat Gillick. Pat, you helped construct rosters for six organizations, constructed three World Series winning teams with the Blue Jays and Phillies. What went into your thought process when you were building a championship level coaching staff?
PAT GILLICK: Well, the Major League level it's a little different than at the amateur level, because I think the largest or the biggest adjustment that players have to make for the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues is a mental adjustment as opposed to a physical adjustment.
All of a sudden you're in the Major Leagues, three-deck stadiums, 40,000 people, 750 of the best players in the world. All of a sudden you think to yourself -- you have to make that mental adjustment.
So the coaching at the Major League level I think is a little different. Those coaches who can mentally get those players over the hump and get them headed in the right direction, it's very important.
So I let the manager, that's his department. He's running the people team. I let him go along for a year. I was in Toronto for 19 years and we promoted from within. When I was a kid living in California, I idolized the Yankees and the and Brooklyn Dodgers and they always promoted from within.
So the 19 years I was in Toronto we tried to the same thing. But when I moved on to the other three clubs, I let the manager keep in place the people he had. After a year, if we needed to he'd to make an adjustment we would make an adjustment.
But it's very, very important. The mental part of it as you go along to me is 70% of the game at the Major League level and 330% is physical.
GREG AMSINGER: And Joe Torre, author of a stellar playing career. Joe then won four world championships in 30 seasons as a Major League manager.
Joe, share your thoughts on the importance of coaches to a manager.
JOE TORRE: Well, I would be remiss if I couldn't talk about George Kissell, who during my playing career meant so much to me. I think I was a little irresponsible when I started playing the game. Sort of shy and I really didn't catch on really until I was traded to the Cardinals in the late 60s.
George Kissell, our third base coach, sort of took me understand his wing. He spent so much time with me on not only the physical part of the, game but the mental part of the game. Carried over to my managing career, too. He used to sit with me in spring training and he would say, Before you start the game, count one to nine. This way you check every one of those players on the field, where they're playing, if that's where you want them, otherwise you can't blame anybody but yourself.
But as far as coaches for me, the interesting part when I first started managing back in the '70s, you know, you want to hire people who you're comfortable with and who you have known a little bit. When I was managing the Yankees I hired two head coaches. Didn't know them very well. Respected what I saw. I hired Don Zimmer and I know that's Jim Rice's favorite. (Applause.) I hired Don Zimmer, and the reason I did that is because I had never managed in the American League were he had managed in both leagues. He had coached even more importantly for the Yankees and has been with the Red Sox.
So he had a little taste of what we were about to take on. He was great. It was sort of like fire and ice because he was -- somebody said to me one time, How come you look so calm on the bench? I said, Well, if you sit next to Zimmer you have to look calm because he is far from being a calm individual.
Then the other one who I admired his work from across the field was Mel Stottlemyre. Hired Mel as my pitching coach. (Applause.) Very calm individual until you sort of turned on -- you know, said the wrong thing to him. But he was a tough love guy. I hired these two guys to be coaches and they became dear friends, which I was very grateful for.
GREG AMSINGER: As I bring Jane back up here, thanks again to this entire Hall of Fame panel for sharing their thoughts and recognition of importance of coaching. (Applause.)
JANE FORBES CLARK: I would like to ask Jason and Jeff to join us so that we can congratulate them one more time and give them another big round of applause. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, our 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame Spink Award winner, Jason Stark, and former president of the Hall of Fame, Jeff Idelson. (Applause.)
As we move to Main Street for the Hall of Fame parade of legends, I thank you for being with us this afternoon, and hopefully we'll see you tomorrow at 1:30 at the Clark Sports Center when we induct the Hall of Fame class of 2019. Thank you. (Applause.)
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports