Cooperstown: Sunday – And More On Rose

The Hall of Fame induction speeches are always heartfelt and always noteworthy, but rarely do they have such emotional impact as this year’s.

Frankly, Rickey Henderson gave as good a speech as anybody could’ve imagined. It was respectful, it was self-deprecating, it was eloquent, it was moving. The only self-references were to say “I thank” – and he seemingly thanked everybody. And between his childhood memories of being bribed to play the game with donuts and quarters, to adolescent stories of asking Reggie Jackson for an autograph but getting only a pen, Henderson’s good-heartedness and generosity did more to enhance his reputation than anything else he could have done in fifteen minutes. I also think that Rickey finally admitted he had retired – the first-ever combination HOF acceptance/retirement speech.
Jim Rice was equally genuine and sincere, and instead of making even the slightest reference to the indefensible delay in his election, he poured oil on the troubled waters by saying it made no difference to him. My friend Tony Kubek did what he had always done so well: give us insights about others in the game. He began with a reference to his first Yankee roommate, and the man seated beside me, that roommate, Moose Skowron, tried to hide. Tony later inspired the longest sustained applause of the afternoon by thanking Henry Aaron for being such a hero and role model, inside and outside the game.
But the day was headlined by the daughter of the great Yankee and Indian second baseman Joe Gordon. Noting that her father, who had died in 1978, had ordered that there be no funeral nor ceremony, Judy Gordon said that her family would now consider Cooperstown his final resting place. If there was a fan who did not tear up, or feel a lump in the throat, he or she was not evident from where I was sitting.
Coming up tomorrow, a little more on the Pete Rose/Sparky Anderson ice-breaking I reported here Saturday night – the story is not only correct, but it’s only the beginning of what Rose considered a very rewarding weekend. First, some ground-level photos from Cooperstown 2009.
The mass of humanity assembles. It’s still more than an hour until the ceremony and thousands are already present:
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A little Yankee-Red Sox interplay. Brian Cashman at the left; Sox co-owner John Henry in the nifty hat, on the right:
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A colleague of mine – part of the contingent sharing the big day of his old partner Tony Kubek – interviewed, beforehand. Afterwards Bob and more than a dozen NBC Sports production figures of the ’70s and ’80s gathered for a lengthy reception in Tony’s honor:
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Mr. Kubek himself – getting a brief pre-ceremony pep talk from son Jim:
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And one more – that rare, almost transcendent appearance of Sandy Koufax, in the moments after the speeches ended. He is talking to Dave Stewart, once an Albuquerque Duke while Koufax was the team’s pitching coach. Eddie Murray at the right:
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4 Comments

This was one of those days that make me really grateful to be a baseball fan. I loved every moment. Kudos to MLB TV for their coverage, and not getting in the way. I was so happy for Jim Rice. He was always a ball player I admired, both for his ability and his dignity. I regret that I once passed up the chance to meet him. I was talking to Tim Johnson when he was a coach for Boston, and Jim walked by. I was speechless (a rarity) and I remember walking away thinking that I blew it. My wife loved the Y&R reference. Rickey’s speech was, as you said, a gem. I have thought he has been putting us on for awhile, and yet today he showed just the right amounts of humility and egotism that all the greats have. Your friend Kubek was in my estimation, the best analyst I ever heard. Honest to a fault, and unwavering in his theory of how to play the game, I miss him, especially with all these “homers’ on the various broadcasts these days. Joe Gordon’s daughter gave a fascinating insight into a man I never knew much about. All in all great day for our national pastime.

Keith,

I couldn’t agree more with you about the speeches of both Rice and Henderson. Hopefully next year we’ll be seeing Bert Blyleven be able to make one of his own. I know you’re a very busy man, but I myself write a blog about the Angels. If you ever have a spare minute, I would greatly appreciate if you could take a quick read and give me any advice. Recently layed off from my job, and I figure now was the time to do what I always wanted to do, which is write about baseball. I’m a huge fan! Thank you again, very much.

http://mattwestmoreland.mlblogs.com/

Keith…..for those of us who weren’t able to attend this year’s induction ceremonies, or watch them on MLB.TV, your insights and recaps have been a pleasure. Growing up, I remember Rickey Henderson being such a character…nice to know he’s grown into a man OF characater. As a Red Sox fan, Jim Rice has always been a classy guy-leave it to him not to fuss about the lateness of his induction as the rest of us had been!

Thanks for the pictures…an added bonus!

Pete Rose was one of the most intense players in the game’s history. His stats and longievity speak to that. He has paid his debt and needs to be admitted to the hall of fame. Yes , he gambled on the game but there are many in the hall of fame who were alcoholics, racists, and then there is the steroid issue. If Henry Aaron can say that is time to let Rose into the hall of fame then there should be a push to do just that. 20 years can be a lifetime so let the man in…..

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