“Wow! Cooperstown!” David Ortiz kicked off his address to the crowd stretched across the grounds at Clark Sports Complex. The rally was heavily flavored with Ortiz’s #34 Red Sox sports gear, not to mention the many flags representing the Dominican Republic, where Ortiz was born.
Ortiz became the first hitter selected in his career on his first ballot when this year’s tour results were announced in January. Ortiz thanked the baseball writers for honoring them in his usual high-energy style, saying, “You guys keep it up.”
Ortiz became the fourth Dominican-born player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining longtime friend Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Juan Marechal.
Ortiz, who holds dual citizenship, also thanked America before offering a promotion for travel to his home country, saying, “To all my American friends, consider this an open invitation to visit my island. The Dominican Republic has a special flavor. We have so many good and happy people, and beautiful beaches.” Where can you guys go when you guys are freezing here.”
During his 20-season MLS career, Ortiz crushed 541 players as he finished in the top five of the AL MVP on the ballot for five consecutive seasons over a period ending in 2007. 127 leading RBI in the league while also running the circuit in doubles and percentage Slow percentage and OPS.
When Ortiz joined Boston in 2003, the Red Sox were still operating under the Bambino Curse, the name given to the Boston drought that began after they won the 1918 World Championship. The Red Sox picked up that streak in Ortiz’s second season with the club. By the time he retired, Boston had added two more championships.
In 2013, Ortiz was named World Player of the Year for a win over St. Louis, going 11-16 at the plate with eight walks over six games.
And he did all this while living up to his nickname, Big Papi, which encapsulated the larger-than-life socialite who was often shown during his career and was frequently shown on Sundays.
“It’s an amazing day. An incredible honor,” Ortiz said, giving remarks in both English and Spanish.
Tony Oliva joined Ortiz in the draft on Sunday, who won three batting titles, drove the AL on five and hit .304 over his 15-year career with the Twins. He congratulated Oliva Ortiz during his speech, referring to the start of Pappe’s early career in Minnesota with a bit of a tug while also suggesting that a move to the Red Sox was the best thing about Pappe’s career.
Still… “We missed you in Minnesota,” Oliva said.
Cuban-born Oliva also paid tribute to the late Mini Minoso, who opened the doors to generations of Latino players who followed him as the first black Latina player in the Major League or National League. Minoso was the last of the recruits on Sunday.
“As Minnie would say if he were with us this afternoon, ‘Thank you, my friends, from the bottom of my heart,'” Sharon Rice-Minoso, speaking on behalf of her husband, said.
Minoso is as famous for his relationship with fans as he is for his distinguished career, a quality shared by the late Buck O’Neill, inducted on Sunday.
Before the ceremony, the auditorium prepared for the gathering by replaying a video of O’Neill leading the crowd in singing, “The greatest thing in my entire life is your love.” The most memorable moment of the ceremony came in 2006, two months before O’Neill’s death, as he spoke on behalf of 17 recruits selected for their contributions to Negro Leagues baseball, a group many at the time felt O’Neill should have been included.
O’Neill, as he has done all his life, chose to celebrate those who made it rather than bemoan the fact that he didn’t.
O’Neill’s niece, Dr. Angela Terry, said: “It is possible that Uncle John will weave in his words to you this afternoon the idea of preparation.” “This is the positivity with which he saw the majority of events in his life.”
Longtime MLB broadcaster and broadcaster Jim Catt focused on thanking those who helped along the way in a career that spanned from 1959 to 1983. Catt is the only player to have faced both Ted Williams, who retired in 1960, and Julio Franco, who retired in 2007.
Cat won 283 games during his career and is remembered as the best fielding player of his era, with 16 Golden Gloves in the position. He won his only world championship late in his career, earning a ring with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals.
Chosen by a Hall Era panel made up of former players, CEOs and journalists who are experts of his era, said Katt, “When your career is validated by the players you’ve played with, you’ve played with, the media and club managers who have actually seen you play, that’s it.” The highest honor you can get.”
The great Brooklyn Dodgers also picked Jill Hodges. Hodges was a beloved member of the “The Boys of Summer” teams in the 1950s, perhaps his greatest fame as manager of “Amazin’ Mets”, the 1969 World Championship-winning version of the New York club which prior to that campaign had never won more From 73 games in one season.
Hodges died of a heart attack at the age of 47, in late spring training before the start of the 1972 season. Always a popular choice for those who point out Hall omissions, Hodges hit 370 homers during his career, mostly Dodgers during their time at Brooklyn. Hodges made the move with the Dodgers when they moved to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.
“He was a very humble man, but he would be very proud to be here with the best of the best in baseball,” said Hodges’ daughter Erin, who gave a touching speech on her father’s behalf.
19th century pioneer Bud Fowler, considered the first black player in professional baseball, was also welcomed into the hall. During his long career that spanned the 20th century, Fowler played for over 50 teams despite being praised as a top performer wherever he went. Oftentimes, he was forced to switch teams because one of his teammates or a competitor refused to enter the field with him.
Fowler died in 1913. Speaking on his behalf, Dave Winfield said, “Some fans liked him, but many of his teammates and fellow opponents didn’t. They didn’t want to play with a black man.”
Fowler, who learned the game while growing up in Cooperstown, is buried about 25 miles from the Hall of Fame. Winfield said he visited Fowler’s grave to prepare for his speech.