The Latest: Jim Thome inducted into Baseball HOF
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — The Latest on the Baseball Hall of Fame inductions (all times local):
Jim Thome has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Emotional during a Hall of Fame visit in February to tour the museum to prepare for this day, Thome held it together despite having to wipe away tears after his daughter sang the national anthem.
“I’m so honored to be part of something so special,” Thome said. “Baseball is beautiful and I am forever in its service.”
The lefty-swinging Thome hit 612 home runs, eighth all-time, and had an MLB record 13 walk-off homers , mostly for the Cleveland Indians. He also had 1,699 RBIs, scored 1,583 runs and drew 1,747 walks.
Among the many he thanked, Thome praised former Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel, who served as the Indians’ hitting coach in the late 1980s and 1990s. Manuel was in the audience.
“He told me I could hit as many home runs as I wanted to,” Thome said. “I knew this was someone I could connect with.”
Jack Morris has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Morris, now 63, pitched 18 seasons for the Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays and Indians, and played on four World Series champions. In the 1980s, he led all pitchers with 2,444.2 innings pitched and 162 wins and topped all AL pitchers in strikeouts with 1,629.
Among those he thanked were his late parents and the late Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tigers to the 1984 World Series championship.
“I know Sparky Anderson is with us today,” Morris said. “He taught me so many things. He taught me to fight through adversity.”
The crowning achievement of Morris’ career was his 1-0 complete-game victory in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series while pitching for his hometown Twins against the Braves. Minnesota manager Tom Kelly wanted to take him out after nine innings and the 36-year-old Morris convinced him not to.
Morris also thanked Kelly for that decision.
Trevor Hoffman has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Just as he did in his unflappable role in the bullpen during his career as an ace reliever, Hoffman was flawless in delivering his speech, closing it by thanking his wife.
“You shared with me this amazing journey of ups and downs from the beginning, always never letting me get too high or get too low,” Hoffman said. “I love you.”
Hoffman, chosen in his third year on the ballot, played the bulk of his career with the San Diego Padres before finishing with the Milwaukee Brewers. After failing to impress the front office in three years as a shortstop, he switched to the bullpen and became a star.
Using a stultifying changeup, Hoffman recorded 601 saves over 18 seasons, second all-time to former Yankees star Mariano Rivera’s 652.
Vladimir Guerrero has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In a speech that lasted just five minutes, Guerrero, whose speech was translated from Spanish, thanked his mother, who cooked dinners for him, and father, the fans and the people in his hometown of Dan Gregorio in the Dominican Republic.
Guerrero was elected on his second try, receiving 92.9 percent of the vote. The nine-time All-Star outfielder batted .318 with 449 homers and 1,496 RBIs and was a notorious bad-ball hitter, a skill he learned as a kid growing up in the Dominican Republic playing a game similar to cricket.
Guerrero, who spent eight years in Montreal, became the first player inducted wearing the cap of the Angels, the team where he enjoyed his greatest success. He helped lead the Angels to the postseason five times in six seasons, reaching career highs for runs (124), hits (206), and RBIs (126) in 2004 when he won AL MVP honors.
His son Vladimir Jr., the top prospect in the minor leagues with the Blue Jays, was in attendance.
Alan Trammell has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The former Detroit shortstop was selected by a veterans committee in December along with former Tigers teammate Jack Morris.
Trammell played shortstop for 20 seasons — all for the Tigers — and earned six All-Star Game selections, four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards. His .977 fielding percentage ranks sixth among shortstops with at least 2,000 games played.
Trammell formed a stellar double play combination with Lou Whitaker, who was in the audience on a special day for Tigers fans.
“For 19 years Lou Whitaker and I formed the longest running double play combination in the history of baseball,” Trammell said, recalling the two were called up to the Tigers on the same day. “Lou, it was an honor and a pleasure to have played alongside you all those years. I hope someday you’ll be up here, too.”
Trammell also thanked the late Sparky Anderson, who took over as manager of the Tigers in 1979 after leading the Cincinnati Reds to great success.
“Little did we know our lives were about to change,” Trammell said. “We thought we were good ballplayers, but we found out we didn’t know squat.”
Chipper Jones has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Pressure was an afterthought for Jones during his career, except perhaps at the beginning in 1990 when he struggled in Class A ball. He managed to keep his emotions in check on Sunday as he gazed down at his wife Taylor. She’s due to give birth to a son that will named Cooper and the due date is Monday.
“She changed my life forever,” Jones said as his wife brushed away tears. “It took me 40 years and some major imperfections in me along the way to find my true profession. Now we’ve taken our two families and blended them together. It has given me what I’ve been searching for my entire life — true happiness.”
Jones fought back his emotions in a speech that took the crowd through his entire career, starting in his rookie season when he helped lead the Atlanta Braves to the 1995 World Series title in his rookie season.
Jones was one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history, in the mold of his dad’s favorite player, Mickey Mantle. He finished with a .303 batting average and had 549 doubles, 468 home runs, and 1,623 RBIs, credentials that earned him election on the first try.
Jones also heaped praise on his mom and dad.
“You’re the reason I’m on this stage,” Jones said.
He ended his speech by thanking the Atlanta fans.
“You stuck by me. You’re the reason I never want to play anywhere else. I love you guys. Thank you.”
A crowd that’s estimated to number around 50,000 is gathering outside the Clark Sports Center in the village of Cooperstown for the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Sluggers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, first-ballot electees, headline a class that also includes Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman and former Detroit Tigers teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. The ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m.
Jones is expected to speak first because his wife Taylor is due to give birth to a son on Monday or earlier. They’ve made plans to have the delivery at the local hospital if she goes into labor and have already selected the name Cooper in honor of the special day.
With the six new inductees, a record 57 living Hall of Famers will be on the stage. Among those who will be watching from in front is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the top prospect of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The family arranged for him to get the day off before the season. He’ll report to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday in a promotion that comes as no surprise.
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