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December 9, 2019
San Diego, California
JON SHEVSTAKOVSKY: Good afternoon. My name is Jon Shevstakovsky, and I am vice president of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Welcome to the Hall of Fame's MLB press conference.
Joining me on the dais are Tim Mead, president of the National Hall of Fame and Museum; one of the newest members of the National Hall of Fame, Ted Simmons, as well as chairman of the board of the National Hall of Fame, Jane Forbes Clark.
Now I would like to invite Jane to the dais to give a few remarks.
JANE FORBES CLARK: Thank you, Jon. Thank you all for being here today. As you know, the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 16-member MLB committee met here in San Diego yesterday to consider ten candidates for Hall of Fame elections, candidates whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from 1970 to 1987.
The ballot, comprised of nine former players and one executive, was selected by an 11-member historical overview committee of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The members of the voting committee of which there were 16, were Sandy Alderson, George Brett, and if you're here, I would ask you to stand and to remain standing, Rod Carew, Bill Center, Dave Dombrowski, Dennis Eckersley, David Glass, Steve Hirdt, Walt Jocketty, Doug Melvin, Eddie Murray, Jack O'Connell, Tracy Ringolsby, Terry Ryan, Ozzie Smith, and Robin Yount. (Applause.)
On behalf of the board of directors of the Hall of Fame, I would like to thank each of them for their thoughtfulness and their commitment to the work of their committee. You heard the results of their work yesterday on MLB Network. They elected Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons to one of sport's most elite fraternities. Marvin Miller served as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association for seven years beginning in 1976. More than fifty years later, his work has impacted more than half of all those players ever to wear a Major League uniform. He ushered in a new era of players' rights and his legacy is strong today, seven years after his passing. We are so happy that Marvin is joining us in Cooperstown as part of the class of 2020.
We are also honored to welcome Ted Simmons into our class of 2020. Ted was one of the game's premiere catchers throughout a 21-year Major League career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Bruins, and Atlanta Braves. A durable switch-hitter, he batted over 300 in seven different seasons; hit 20 or more home runs six times; and drove in 90 or more runs eight times, while also guiding his pitchers to success from behind the plate.
Among those who played at least half of their Major League games as a catcher, Simmons ranks second all-time in hits, doubles, and runs batted in. He now joins the class in Cooperstown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, class of 2020. Congratulations, Ted.
We welcome you to Cooperstown. We welcome you to your new team, and we ask you to put on the jersey of your new team.
TED SIMMONS: Okay, yeah. How's it look?
JANE FORBES CLARK: Is looks pretty good! It looks good.
TED SIMMONS: Feels good.
JANE FORBES CLARK: We are so looking forward to our induction ceremony in Cooperstown on Sunday, July 26th, where Ted and Marvin will be celebrated along with the electees, who emerge from the BBWA election, and those will be announced January 21st. Thank you very much.
JON SHEVSTAKOVSKY: Thank you, Jane. Before we open for questions we're going to welcome Ted Simmons to provide an opening statement.
TED SIMMONS: Maybe I will need this. I don't know. Thank you, Jon. I appreciate it a lot. Certainly I would like to thank the Hall of Fame body that is represented here, certainly Jane and Joe, who has been a big help to Mary Ann and I for these last 20 or so hours. And also Tim, who has made life very comfortable here since we've arrived.
I would also like to thank the modern era committee that brought me here today. I've just decided they've all become my very best and favorite friends, and certainly appreciate everything they have done for me here in the last day or so. Of course it means everything to me, and I'll not forget them for making this all happen.
So in an effort to be brief and let you people get at it, so to speak, I will sit down and prepare myself to answer whatever questions you've got on your mind. Thank you.
JON SHEVSTAKOVSKY: Thanks very much, Ted. If you would like to ask a question, raise your hand and wait for a microphone. We encourage you to ask questions during this availability portion.
Q. Ted, congratulations.
TED SIMMONS: Thank you very much.
Q. It's been 25 years since your name first appeared on the ballot. Did it feel like a long wait and like a weight was lifted off your shoulders when you got that news yesterday? Have you been able to process getting that news yesterday?
TED SIMMONS: It was obviously very, very exciting to get that telephone call from Jane. Very, very happy. 25 years ago is a long time and, I mean, it was one and done, so to speak, a long time ago, and thought my candidacy was over. Then things changed and it evolved and brought back to life, so to speak, and yesterday finally made that final leap.
I can only tell you how exciting that has made me feel, and everything that's gone in the past is all part of it. It's all a good part of it. It was supposed to happen just like this, and it happened just like this. I couldn't be happier and wouldn't change -- I wouldn't change anything. Not one thing.
Q. Ted, where were you when you found out? What was your mood like in the last couple of days when you knew that they were meeting and voting? What was going through your mind Sunday and Monday?
TED SIMMONS: I found out yesterday at 6:30 central time in St. Louis. I was waiting that out with my wife, just waiting it out. I can only explain to you that the anxiety, you know, begins about a month ago, and then it just starts building. Before long it's preoccupied every thought you've got.
You just keep building. Finally it all just kind of releases itself when the phone call finally comes and they say, Welcome as the newest and latest member of Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
All the anxiety -- it's like Niagara Falls, just relief.
Q. Ted, congratulations. What do you remember about the big blockbuster trade when you and Buccy (phonetic) and Raleigh came to St. Louis. It was transformational and a career arc for all of you guys, too.
TED SIMMONS: It was a wonderful moment. I was a 10 of 5 player so I had control. I had been in St. Louis and had a wonderful career over there and things changed and circumstances evolved in a way that put me in a place to come to Milwaukee. And I remember when it all happened talking to Whitey Herzog who orchestrated this whole thing and saying to him, Who is in the deal? What is the deal? And he said there were a number of players coming to Milwaukee. Cisco, Luciano few others. I said, Who is going to Milwaukee? And Whitey said Fingers is going, you're going, and Vucevic is going. I said, let me get this straight. Those two guys, Fingers and Vucevic are coming with me to Milwaukee? And he said, yep, that's it. I said, that's the truth, right? (Chuckles.)
He said, yeah, that's the truth. I said, let me talk to Mr. Selig and we'll get it done. Talked to Bud not long after that and he assured me that Vucevic and Fingers were coming. And I said okay, we got a deal. Let's go. It changed all our careers. It change every one. Mine. Vucevic became a Cy Young Award winner. We went to the seventh game of the World Series and Raleigh became what he became and was. Changed everything in Milwaukee. It was a wonderful, wonderful period.
Q. Question for Jane and for you, Ted. Jane, when you guys restructured these era committees a few years ago it was primarily to start electing players after a long dearth of it, and now you've had Morris and Trammell and Bains and now Ted. I wish you would speak to how you feel about how the process has worked and been altered since then.
JANE FORBES CLARK: I think that the philosophy behind the Veterans Committee has always been the same. The Hall of Fame feels the Baseball Writers Association has done a fantastic job since its inception in the 1930s, but we know there are anomaly years and things can happen and things can fall between the cracks. That's what we're looking for. We're always looking for the player that has fallen between the cracks because of what may have happened during the period they're on the BBWA ballot.
We are not looking to just elect people. We are always looking, and hopefully the most efficient manner which this restructuring has done, the most cohesive manner in terms of the historical overview committee's work of selecting candidates to make sure that no one has fallen between the cracks.
Q. Thank you. Ted, congratulations.
TED SIMMONS: Thanks, Barry.
Q. You mentioned the committee. How much of it do you think the structure of this committee led to your election this time and to Marvin's in particular, too? Because it's just a different generation of executives on this committee, too, who weren't perhaps as angry at Marvin as some in the past.
TED SIMMONS: I think for the most part, everyone on that committee, in one form or another, knew Marvin. Each and every one of them I know had either played against me and the general managers all had seen me play.
So when you have that kind of group, totally familiar with your body of work, whether it was my own or whether it was Marvin's, these are firsthand accounts of what they're trying to determine or evaluate.
So, I mean, when the committee was announced, I looked at that committee and said -- I told my wife, I said "I got a chance here. I know all these people, and I know them pretty well. You look at that you and you say, Well, you never know how it's going to turn out, but you have optimism or pessimism, and since I knew these people knew me and I knew them, I was alive.
Q. Ted, before you had obviously what is now a Hall of Fame Major League career, you had stops in places like Cedar Rapids and Modesto and Tulsa. How did your Minor League career set up what is now a path to Cooperstown? And also extending on to that, what was it like playing behind Joe Torre knowing he was in the Major League at your position?
TED SIMMONS: The first part of that question is what is it the Minor Leagues did developing me into a Minor League and ultimately a Hall of Fame player. At the Minor League level, guy like George Brett, someone like myself, people who can hit, when they go through the Minor Leagues they're tearing it up. Your confidence starts soaring and you feel like you're invincible and I was crushing everything everywhere I played in the Minor Leagues. I figured there was no place in the Minor Leagues I couldn't play, so I was ready in my mind to play in the Major Leagues. I had rather rude and abrupt awakenings awaiting and I felt my lumps plenty. But the Minor Leagues, you feel like you can't make an out! The second part of that question was?
Q. Playing behind Joe Torre when he was in that position.
TED SIMMONS: Actually it was Timmy McCarver. He was the mainstay in '67, '68, you know. He was the guy. Then I came through the Minors in a fashion that I just described, and the handwriting pretty much was on the wall. The reason I ended up coming to the Major Leagues was another unfortunate circumstance that occurred to Mike Shannon.
Mike Shannon developed the early stages of nephritis it was determined in Spring Training through one of the medical tests that he had it, and he was going to have to retire.
So at that time, Torre who was scheduled to be the catcher, Shannon was going to be the third baseman. They shifted Torre to third base and they brought me up, and I stayed for the duration. So playing behind a guy like Torre, Gibson, Brock, Carlton, these guys were in the clubhouse every day when I was 19, 20, 21 years old. Huge impact.
Q. You have stayed active in the game through a lot of different ways after you were done playing. You mentioned when you fell off the ballot the first time you thought your candidacy was over. As you became more modernized in the game with how you evaluate it scouting, what was it like to watch your own numbers become more appealing to the folks who analyze these things, and did you realize that your chance was growing as those things became more important in the game?
TED SIMMONS: I've said it for a while. It was really the metrics people who revived my candidacy. The comparisons that come from the statistics in general is what makes this game part of what it is, so exciting to so many people. The controversies and the discussions just abound, especially around the numbers.
So when I was essentially, you know, one and done, for lack of a better phrase, people started examining that and looking at the numbers and making the comparisons, and then discussions started. Pretty soon people were walking up to me saying things like, Well, did you know? And I just said, I got a body of work here. It's not something I think about day and night. I've done what I can do. Pretty soon people were coming up a lot, and then they started talking to each other and then they started talking to everybody and it just grew.
Now there have been a lot of people who had a lot to do with this, but the Sabre Metrics people brought me back to life.
Q. Ted, did you have an opportunity to work with Marvin? What were your impressions of him?
TED SIMMONS: I've said this maybe too many times already in the last 20 hours. People ask this question of me. I can't begin to tell you, anybody in this room, the impact that Marvin Miller has had on me and my family. I came from a little place just outside of Detroit. Well, I'll put it to you like this: First contract I played for at the Major League level was for $7500, okay?
And Marvin, that summer, raised it to 10. And then the following Spring Training, the minimum salary went from 10 to 14. I turned to my wife and I said, I think we can buy a car! (Laughter.) Then you could buy one for $800 brand new!
But Marvin impacted everybody that played and were members of the association in ways that I'll never forget. My family will never forget. Changed everything. People say, what do you think about today and the salaries and stuff? Stephen Strasburg just signed and those numbers. Good for him! When I signed for the money I played for, bigger than life. I can't complain about anything.
Marvin had that kind of impact and he's still having that impact, and I couldn't be prouder as a newly-elected member of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame to be going in with him. I couldn't have hand-picked anybody I would rather be going in with.
Q. Ted, congratulations. I know you said this played out exactly as it was supposed to.
TED SIMMONS: Yeah.
Q. Last time you were before the committee falling just one vote short, how did that -- as you approached this vote, was it more excruciating or did it fuel your optimism?
TED SIMMONS: I can only tell you when you're waiting it out it's just plain excruciating. Until the call comes it's painful! You keep saying to yourself, I can't really want that this bad. I just can't really want it this bad, can I? And you keep answering the question in the affirmative. Yes, I can want it this bad!
Waiting it out is horrible. When it finally comes, I mean, like I said a moment ago, Niagara Falls. The weight of the world has just lifted. And you just go, I can't believe it. Relief. Complete and total relief.
Q. Genuine congratulations, Ted. In '70 and '71 when you would go down to Spring Training many times Marvin went from camp to camp to introduce himself. In '72 there was the strike. Could you recall a first interaction chatting with him or an impression? Two Hall of Famers, a recollection of a Marvin's story.
TED SIMMONS: There are so many stories about Marvin. But you asked my first encounter, I used to be an absolute horrendous chainsmoker. I started smoking when I was 14 years old and I was bangin' 'em down three packs a day by the time I quit. Marvin was a smoker, and I can remember the first encounter he was smoking so I was smoking because smokers attract.
The thing about Marvin that was so special is that he was so patient. No matter how insane a question you might present, he was absolutely as patient as a person could be. He would literally let you go on and on and on and make a complete moron out of yourself.
Then at the end, he would say, Now, I think this is pretty much what you're trying to tell me, and he would encapsulate it. Sure enough, the guy just made a complete total moron out of you and he would walk away with the biggest smile in the world.
Marvin is one story after another. I can't tell one. I would have to tell 100 and then I couldn't shut up. Very, very special person. Meant everything to me and my family. Took me to a place I never dreamed I would ever go.
Q. Ted, you stayed in the game and how rewarding has the nonplaying part of your career been?
TED SIMMONS: I can't separate them. Yes, it was much more fun playing and much more lucrative to say the least. But I can't tell you or separate what being a general manager in Pittsburgh was for me. That opened up the entire industry to me where I saw how baseball functioned, where it made its money, how it made its money, how it strived to present an acceptable product and put it out on that field for a local fan base.
I thought the only organization that ever existed in my life was, you know, the St. Louis Cardinals, and I spent so much of my time there and loved it. It was great. But once I moved and once I saw how big the place was, Pittsburgh became a really special place for me, and ultimately Cleveland and San Diego and now Atlanta.
I've seen this industry wide open. There isn't a thing I haven't seen. There isn't a thing I don't understand. Luckiest baseball man in the world. I don't have the headaches anymore, thank God, but it sure is a beautiful thing to look at and wonder about.
It's just -- it's beyond belief what has happened in this game. It's incredible.
Q. Ted, first of all, congratulations. Your induction is well overdue.
TED SIMMONS: Thank you.
Q. One of the things you have spoken about is patience, and obviously the whole process that you've been through from the time that you were -- the first time on the ballot. Obviously a lot of time has gone by. I know you touched on this before, but the fact that you're in now, but to be inducted with Marvin Miller and everything that he had to go through, the time that you happened to play which coincided with the time that he made the great changes to baseball in a game that it is today and what it is for the players, it's gotta be extra special even though you had to wait as long as you did to be inducted with Marvin?
TED SIMMONS: Those on are two separate things. And as I mentioned a moment ago, Marvin Miller is a very, very special man. Just to have been associated with him and look in his window for as long as I got to, life lessons, you know, life knowledge, lucky boy having done that.
As far as my pursuit of the Cooperstown Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, it's taken this long. It may sound so trite because it's used so often, but it's a hard place to get into. It should be. There is no reason for me to feel in any way, shape, or form that my journey to this place is any more or any less than anybody else's. It is hard. It's an excruciating wait, and until it happens for you, you just can't describe what it's like.
JON SHEVSTAKOFSKY: Thank you all for joining us today. Congratulations again to Ted Simmons.
Ted and Marvin Miller will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 26th, in Cooperstown, along with any electees who emerge from the WBBA balloting on January 21st. We hope to see you all in Cooperstown.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports