2017-08-03 / Sports

BASEBALL’S BEST

Five inducted in Cooperstown Sunday
By LAMAR GARRARD
Baseball Historian

“Thank you Ralph Kiner, and thank you folks, for that warm Cooperstown welcome. This is an award that I will certainly cherish forever. I praise the Lord here today. Without him I am nothing and I thank him for his great blessing.” – Ernie Harwell, Washington, Georgia, native from his Hall of Fame induction speech on August 2, 1981.

This past Sunday after church and a nice lunch I positioned myself in front of the TV with eyes glued to the MLB channel that was televising the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony from Cooperstown, New York.

It was great to see that the program introduced all of the current hall of famers who were in attendance. The Atlanta Braves were well represented with Hank Aaron, Bobby Cox, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz all being present. Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the HOF, and Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Baseball, did a fine job with the presentations.

The first inductee was the Braves executive and former general manager, John Schuerholz. John talked about growing up in a baseball family where his dad played three years of pro ball and his uncles also all played the game. The Baltimore native shared how he played ball through college but never made the professional ranks. After a few years of teaching, he was given a chance in baseball in the front office of the Orioles. We know that this soon took him to Kansas City where he fostered the talent to produce the 1985 World Champion Royals. Later on John was the general manager that led Atlanta to a record 14 straight post season appearances and the 1995 World Championship.

Houston Astros first baseman, Jeff Bagwell gave a stirring tribute to his family, his wife, his mom, and especially his dad. He said his dad not only taught him baseball, but taught him how to be a man. His dad’s motto was to never give up and to keep improving. He also gave a lot of credit for his success to Craig Biggio another Hall of Famer and his Astros teammate.

Bud Selig, former Commissioner of Baseball, made many changes in baseball. He was responsible for the instant replay, the wild card playoff system, drug testing, and revenue sharing among clubs. He made the good decision to retire Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 for all time in all of baseball.

Pudge Rodriguez, the Texas ranger catcher, gave thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for being able to reach his pinnacle achievement. His hero was Johnny Bench and he watched the Reds on TV as a little boy growing up in Puerto Rico. His older brother was credited with teaching and mentoring him in the game.

Tim Raines, the speedster on the base paths, thanked his former teammates in Montreal. He said he admired the play of George Brett and that Joe Morgan was his favorite player. He also said that he loved the way that Rickey Henderson had played the game.

Congratulations to these five who have now entered baseball royalty.

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