Hall of Fame Weekend
Schuerholz, 76, who as general manager helped the Royals and Braves as a team architect to World Series titles, went first this day. And like any good leadoff hitter, set the day off on a positive note.
“How very honored I am to be inducted, joining baseball executive giants and team-building legends like Branch Rickey and Larry MacPhail and Ed Barrow, George Weiss, and my good friend Pat Gillick, who sits behind me in these seats,” Schuerholz said.
“When my cell phone rang at 5:13 p.m. in my room at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel on Dec. 4, 2016, and Jane Forbes Clark spoke these words: "Hello, John. This is Jane. I'm pleased to inform you, you have been elected into baseball's Hall of Fame. Congratulations."
“Wow. And here I am.”
Up next was Bagwell, who spent his entire career, from 1991 to 2005, with the Astros. With a large contingent of fans from Houston in the crowd, he was soft-spoken, often funny, and humble.
“This is actually a really unbelievable day,” said the 49-year-old Bagwell. “I'm so humbled to be here, to be surrounded by some of the greats that ever played this game. The guys you see on TV, guys you read about and all that, and I'm standing up here and kind of sitting in the background just watching and just trying to figure out what's really going on.
“As I said before, it's an honor to be with all these Hall of Famers, to stand up here and try and talk my story, which I'd much rather be sitting in some of these rooms and listening to stories that they tell. But you know, this is all part of it, and I love it, and I'm humbled and I'm grateful.”
On his 83rd birthday, Selig talked about his job as commissioner, both the challenges and successes. But the underlying sentiment was his appreciation for being recognized by the Hall of Fame.
“The Hall of Fame is the soul of baseball and reaffirms its beauty and timelessness,” Selig said. “The Hall of Fame is a baseball treasure.
“And finally, to these Hall of Famers, I am honored to be in your presence. On your shoulders, this game became part of the fabric of our country, and we are forever indebted to you. For so many years, I sat right behind where I stand now and watched as each new member would stand here and deliver remarks with the kind of emotion that comes with great happiness and fulfillment.”
Rodríguez, the native of Puerto Rico who delivered a portion of his speech in Spanish, began with a self-deprecating story.
“This is such an incredible honor for me to be here in this place to play the game,” Rodríguez said. “Never let anyone take your dream from you. Don't let anyone say your dream cannot be accomplished. Tell them about a short kid who was hanging from the rope when I was a little kid, dangling there, trying to stretch himself and hoping to become as tall as the other boys. And when I step on the side and look at my size, I can say I'm a very tall 5-foot-9. But I got a cool nickname out of it: Pudge.”
With a good portion of the sea of cheering fans wearing Expos jerseys, Raines took the stage as the event’s final speaker.
“First I want to thank the people that are the reasons that I'm here today, my parents, Ned and Florence,” he said. “Without them, obviously I wouldn't be here, but to my dad, you know, he was a great player in his own right. He didn't get the opportunity to play professional baseball. I got an opportunity to see him play, and I was a proud little three- or four-year-old kid watching my dad roam in center field at some of the back playgrounds in Sanford, Fla.”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum