Baseball Hall of Fame

Diverse quintet gains immortality in Cooperstown

Five legends of the game earned their place in baseball history as Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig were enshrined in the Hall of Fame. More »

Inductees by year | HOF inductees

Sights & Sounds

  • Bagwell, Raines and Pudge in HOF

    Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez reflect on being inducted into the Hall of Fame and thank the influential people in their life

  • Selig and Schuerholz on 2017 HOF

    Bud Selig and John Schuerholz talk about the pride they feel being a part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2017

  • Must C: Five enshrined in HOF

    Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig reflect on their journeys to the Hall of Fame

  • Raines on Henderson comparisons

    During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Tim Raines talks about being compared to fellow Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson during his career

  • Bagwell on Andersen trade

    Jeff Bagwell recalls the story of being traded for Larry Andersen during his Hall of Fame speech

  • Pudge shares Nolan Ryan Story

    Ivan Rodriguez shares a funny memory about Nolan Ryan teaching him English

  • Manfred recites Pudge's Plaque

    Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reads Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown

  • Schuerholz on Cox and Braves

    John Schuerholz shares his admiration for Bobby Cox and the Braves organization

  • Manfred recites Raines' plaque

    Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reads Tim Raines' Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown

  • Selig on BAM's Advancements

    Bud Selig discusses the startup and improvements of Major League Baseball Advanced Media

  • Bagwell on Biggio relationship

    Jeff Bagwell discusses former teammate Craig Biggio and being in the Hall of Fame with him

  • Rodriguez on nickname Pudge

    Ivan Rodriguez reveals the origin of his nickname, Pudge, during his Hall of Fame speech

  • Raines on '96 season with Yanks

    Tim Raines talks about winning the 1996 World Series with the New York Yankees during his Hall of Fame induction speech

  • Bagwell talks about perseverance

    Jeff Bagwell talks about a lesson he learned from his father to never quit anything, even as a dishwasher at Friendly's

  • Bagwell remembers lost teammates

    Jeff Bagwell remembers former teammates who have passed and shares his memories of them

  • Bagwell recaps his HOF speech

    Jeff Bagwell recaps his speech in Cooperstown and how he's honored to be Hall of Famer

  • Pudge apologizes to Griffey

    Ivan Rodriguez apologizes to Ken Griffey Jr. for an incident involving his then 2-year-old son at the All-Star Game

  • Manfred recites Bagwell's plaque

    Commissioner of MLB Rob Manfred reads Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown

  • Raines on batting 5th

    Tim Raines jokes about batting fifth, saying he feels he had the power and speed to do it

  • Bagwell on his father's impact

    Jeff Bagwell reflects on the impact his father had on his love for baseball during his Hall of Fame speech

  • Schuerholz's Hall of Fame speech

    John Schuerholz reflects on his career, his obstacles and the many accomplishments over his life

  • Manfred recites Selig's plaque

    Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred reads Bud Selig's Hall of Fame plaque from Cooperstown

  • Bagwell reflects on HOF career

    Jeff Bagwell shares stories over his career with the Astros and the lessons he learned from his family as he is inducted into the Hall

  • Claire Smith accepts Spink Award

    Claire Smith discusses why the J.G. Spink Award is significant and thanks the Hall of Fame

  • 2017 Class arrives at HOF

    2017 Hall of Famers Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines arrive in Cooperstown prior to their Hall of Fame inductions

  • White Sox on Raines entering HOF

    The White Sox honor Tim Raines as he enters the Hall of Fame, having spent parts of five seasons in Chicago

  • Kathleen Lowenthal HOF Speech

    Kathleen Lowenthal, stepdaughter of HOF inductee Bill King, is thankful to accept his award on his behalf

  • Fans enjoy Parade of Legends

    Fans get to watch visiting Hall of Famers ride down Main Street in Cooperstown for the Parade of Legends

  • Pudge, Raines golf before HOF

    2017 Hall of Famers Pudge Rodriguez and Tim Raines recap their day golfing in Cooperstown on the eve of their Hall of Fame inductions

  • Peter Gammons on 2017 HOF class

    Peter Gammons discusses the upcoming inductions of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Pudge Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame

  • HOF weekend in Cooperstown

    Alyson Footer and Richard Justice preview the upcoming weekend in Cooperstown leading up to Sunday's Induction Ceremony

  • Great HOF speech moments

    Look back at great moments from Hall of Fame Weekend in advance of the 2017 Hall of Fame induction

  • Raines on joining Hall of Fame

    2017 Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines discusses attending the Hall of Fame induction ceremony as a inductee rather than a teammate

  • Ryan on Bagwell's skills

    Nolan Ryan discusses Jeff Bagwell being a complete player on offense and defense

  • Tim Raines very deserving of HOF

    Mark DeRosa and Joe Magrane discuss how special a player Tim Raines was ahead of his Hall of Fame induction this weekend

  • Rodriguez on his induction

    2017 Hall of Fame inductee Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez joins MLB Central to discuss his emotions when he received the call to the Hall of Fame

  • 10th anniversary of '07 HOF

    The crew on MLB Central discusses the 10th anniversary of the 2007 Hall of Fame class

  • Selig on his Hall of Fame path

    2017 Hall of Fame electee and Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig discusses his interest in baseball and how he got started on a HOF path

  • Bagwell on always being an Astro

    2017 Hall of Fame electee Jeff Bagwell talks about what it meant to him to spend his entire Major League career in Houston

  • Schuerholz on his success, HOF

    2017 Hall of Fame electee John Schuerholz talks about how he was able to maintain success as a team president and general manager

  • Raines on getting elected to HOF

    Tim Raines talks with the media about his upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame class of 2017

  • Uecker, Attanasio on Selig

    Bob Uecker and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio discuss what it means to have Bud Selig inducted into the Hall of Fame

  • Pudge talks Hall of Fame

    Ivan Rodriguez talks before the All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard, about Miami and being inducted into the Hall of Fame

  • Schuerholz talks Hall of Fame

    Former Braves general manager and Vice Chairman John Schuerholz discusses being inducted into the Hall of Fame and his old team

  • Former MLB stars on HOF Classic

    Former big leaguers John Buck, Aaron Rowand, Ozzie Smith and Michael Cuddyer discuss the Hall of Fame Classic

  • Hall of Famers react to election

    2017 Hall of Fame electees Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez discuss their careers and being chosen for induction this July

  • Tim Raines on MLB Central

    2017 Hall of Famer Tim Raines joins MLB Central on Monday to talk about getting the call to the Hall, his career and new book

  • Raines, Pudge on HOF players

    Hall of Fame electees Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez discuss who they would like to see join them in Cooperstown

  • Newly elected HOFers on mentors

    Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez discuss the mentors they had early on in their Hall of Fame careers

  • A Hall of Fame-worthy ride

    A behind-the-scenes look as Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Raines travel from their Hall of Fame news conference to the MLB Network

  • Bagwell on batting stance

    Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell looks back on how he came up with his authentic batting stance

  • Raines on Bagwell's voice

    Hall of Fame electee Tim Raines says he didn't know the sound of fellow electee Jeff Bagwell's voice until they reached the podium

  • Raines on entering as an Expo

    Hall of Fame electee Tim Raines discusses going into Cooperstown as a member of the Montreal Expos

  • 2018 HOF ballot

    On High Heat, the Mad Dog and Bruce discuss the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot and debate on who has the best shot to make it

  • Pudge on his Puerto Rican roots

    2017 Hall of Fame electee Ivan Rodriguez discusses being the first Puerto Rican-born first ballot Hall of Famer and representing his country

  • MLB Tonight on future HOF class

    MLB Tonight talk about potential first ballot Hall of Famers and who will eventually make it to Cooperstown

  • Bagwell, Raines, Pudge elected

    MLB Network discusses the election of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez to the National Baseball Hall of Fame

  • Raines discusses Expos, HOF nod

    Tim Raines discusses being the third Montreal Expo ever to be elected into the Hall of Fame

  • Bagwell gets the nod to HOF

    Jeff Bagwell is elected to Cooperstown as part of the 2017 Hall of Fame class

  • Rodriguez gets nod to HOF

    Ivan Rodriguez gets voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the 2017 class

  • Tim Raines elected to HOF

    Tim Raines is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2017

  • Pudge on time with Rangers

    Ivan Rodriguez discusses the importance of playing the majority of his career with the Texas Rangers

  • Justice on Bagwell making HOF

    MLB.com columnist Richard Justice discusses the reasons why Jeff Bagwell was elected to the Hall of Fame

  • Hoffman narrowly misses HOF

    MLB.com's Richard Justice discusses Trevor Hoffman receiving 74.0% of the vote in his second year on the Hall of Fame ballot

  • Clemens and Bonds get more votes

    The MLB Network crew discusses if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will ever get enough votes for Cooperstown

  • Pudge elected on first ballot

    MLB.com columnist Richard Justice discusses Ivan Rodriguez's election on the first ballot to the Hall of Fame in 2017

  • Martinez on 2017 HOF class

    Edgar Martinez discusses the 2017 Hall of Fame election class and offers his congratulations to Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez

  • Martinez on HOF election results

    Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez discusses coming up short in the 2017 Hall of Fame vote

  • Martinez misses Hall of Fame

    The guys from MLB Network discuss Edgar Martinez's career after missing out on the Hall of Fame with 58.6 percent of the vote

  • Pudge holds admiration for Bench

    Ivan Rodriguez talks about the joy of joining his favorite catcher, Reds' legend Johnny Bench, in the Hall of Fame

  • Guerrero falls short on HOF vote

    MLB.com columnist Paul Hagen discusses Vladimir Guerrero falling just short of being elected for the Hall of Fame

  • Pudge on getting call

    Ivan Rodriguez looks back on the moment he received the call that he had been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

  • Walker remains optimistic

    Despite not being elected to the Hall of Fame, Larry Walker reflects on the future as he still remains on the ballot

  • Claire Smith wins Spink Award

    MLB.com's Alyson Footer is joined by Claire Smith, the first female recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award

  • Schuerholz on player development

    Former Braves and Royals general manager John Schuerholz discusses how properly scouting and developing players will keep a team competitive

  • Discussing Schuerholz's career

    MLB.com's Alyson Footer, Tracy Ringolsby, Phil Rogers and Mark Bowman talk about the Hall of Fame career of John Schuerholz

  • Selig, Schuerholz on joining HOF

    Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig and former Royals and Braves general manager John Schuerholz discuss being voted into the Hall of Fame

  • Selig discusses his career

    Bud Selig talks with MLB.com about his major achievements during his long tenure as the Commissioner

  • Experts discuss Selig's legacy

    MLB.com's Michael Bauman, Paul Hagen and Richard Justice discuss the legacy of Bud Selig as he is elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame

  • Selig on his Hall election

    Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig discusses his election to the Hall of Fame

  • Selig elected to Hall of Fame

    Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Today's Game Era Committee

  • Schuerholz, Selig to Cooperstown

    Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson announces longtime executive John Schuerholz and Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig as new Hall of Famers

  • Schuerholz's Hall of Fame legacy

    On MLB Tonight, Peter Gammons discusses what made the combination of John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox so important to the success of the Braves

Headlines

  • Hall moment finally arrives for nervous Raines

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Tim Raines is used to hitting leadoff in a baseball game, but during the Hall of Fame ceremony on Sunday, the former Expos great was up fifth. Raines delivered his induction speech after John Schuerholz, Jeff Bagwell, Bud Selig and Ivan Rodriguez made theirs.

    The chant of "Let's go Expos" could be heard as Raines went on stage. Then he tried to speak French, but he was nervous and flubbed his lines. He thought he had it down pat after he practiced his French the night before.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "I was definitely nervous. I still can't speak French, even when I'm not nervous," Raines said. "We've been thinking about [this day] for a long time. We [knew about this] since January.

    "It seems like when each day passed, one day was gone and then it was one day closer, it was one minute closer. Last night, I went to bed. I don't think I closed my eyes because I knew I had to get up there and speak."

    Raines then winged the rest of the speech and was emotional when he started talking about his family ranging from his parents -- Ned and Florence Raines -- to his four children. Raines' speech lasted about 40 minutes.

    Raines was inducted into the Hall of Fame because of what he did as a member of the Expos, who moved to Washington and are now the Nationals. He spent 13 of his 23 seasons with Montreal, which included seven All-Star appearances, an All-Star MVP Award in 1987 -- his go-ahead triple in the 13th inning helped the National League edge the American League, 2-0 -- and capturing four NL stolen-base titles from 1981-84.

    Raines was often compared to Rickey Henderson. Raines acknowledged he didn't like the comparison because he felt all along that Henderson was the best leadoff hitter ever.

    Video: Tim Raines on being compared to Rickey Henderson

    "I wasn't concerned about what he was doing," Raines said. "I just enjoyed the way he played the game. He ran, he hit, he hit for power. Everybody tried to compare us because he was in the American League and I was in the National League. I thought that was unfair, because he was a lot better than I was."

    Raines mentioned several teammates he played with in Montreal, including Gary Carter, Tim Wallach and Steve Rogers. But it was Andre Dawson he gave the most credit to. Without Dawson, Raines said, he would not be in the Hall of Fame. Raines called him a big brother and father figure. Raines had a substance abuse problem during the early part of his career, and Dawson was one of the people who helped Raines overcome that.

    "Without Andre Dawson, there is no telling what would have happened in my career," Raines said. "There was a point in my career that I felt I needed someone to guide me in the right direction. ... Thank you so much, Andre Dawson."

    Raines even talked about how much he treasured his three years with the Yankees. He was never an everyday player in New York, but he proved to be a valuable reserve, helping the Yankees win World Series titles in 1996 and '98. In his three years in New York, Raines had a .395 on-base percentage and a .299 batting average.

    Video: Tim Raines on winning World Series with Yankees

    "I wasn't quite sure if I was ready for the big lights in New York, but I took a chance. Thank God I did," Raines said.

    More »
  • Hall has Bagwell reflective of rise to Astros star

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- A humble and gracious Jeff Bagwell spent much of his Hall of Fame acceptance speech Sunday afternoon at Clark Sports Center thanking his family and friends while recalling how a young Red Sox fan from Connecticut became an Astros icon.

    Bagwell, who grew up idolizing Carl Yastrzemski and joined with fellow Hall of Famer Craig Biggio in defining an era of baseball in Houston, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame before hundreds of orange-clad Astros fans on a picturesque afternoon.

    "This is actually, really an unbelievable day," Bagwell told the crowd. "I'm so humbled to be here, to be surrounded by some of the greats that ever played the game."

    Video: Manfred reads Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame plaque

    It was the culmination of a tremendous 15-year career for Bagwell, who delivered a 23-minute speech that mixed humility, humor and sincerity -- a speech he admitted he winged quit a bit. He joins Biggio -- a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee -- as the only players to have Astros caps on their Hall of Fame plaques.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "I am glad that it's over," Bagwell said after the speech. "I woke up this morning at 9:30 and went, 'Oh God, it's here.' It's been a great ride. I had some great moments with my family with the other Hall of Famers, some funny stories I have from them. It's been a great trip. I can't imagine anything better."

    Never comfortable talking about himself, Bagwell spoke about the support his family gave him through good times and bad. His parents, Robert and Janice Bagwell, had a front-row seat as the former slugger told a huge crowd how much they meant to him. His 89-year-old father beamed.

    "You brought me to love this game of baseball," Bagwell told his father from the stage. "You used to say you gave me your right arm throwing me batting practice."

    Bagwell said his father taught him to never give up on his dream, which was playing for the Boston Red Sox. That nearly became a reality when he was drafted by Boston and his father threw him a Red Sox shirt across the room. But he was traded to the Astros for veteran reliever Larry Andersen in 1990 and quickly became a Houston legend.

    Video: Jeff Bagwell discusses his relationship with his dad

    "For a kid that was a Red Sox fan my entire life, I dreamed of playing for the Red Sox," he said.

    The trade for Andersen is considered one of the most lopsided in history, and Bagwell took an opportunity to salute Andersen, who joked he wanted Bagwell to succeed to keep him relevant.

    Video: Jeff Bagwell reflects on conversation with Andersen

    "I did the best I can and played my entire career, Larry, and OK, I'm here," Bagwell said. "Is this good enough for you?"

    Bagwell thanked all the general managers and owners he played under, including former owner Drayton McLane, who was in attendance. He thanked longtime Astros trainers Dave Labossiere and Rex Jones for "spending hours and hours grinding on my shoulder to get me out there to play."

    He poured out thanks to the clubhouse staff, his agent, Barry Axelrod, and former coaches Rudy Jaramillo and Matt Galante. He recalled teammates who have since passed away -- Andujar Cedeno, Ken Caminiti, Jose Lima and Darryl Kile.

    Video: Jeff Bagwell remembers teammates who have passed away

    "There's not one day that goes by I don't think about Darryl Kile," he said. "DK, you are sorely missed, and I know you're down here somewhere."

    And, of course, Bagwell recalled his relationship with Biggio, with whom he will be forever linked. And when Bagwell's Hall of Fame plaque went up in the gallery on Sunday night, it was just a few feet from Biggio's plaque. Biggio and Bagwell are in the Hall of Fame.

    Video: Bagwell reflects on inspiration from Biggio

    "It's still strange to me," Bagwell said. "When I see it in the gallery, that's when it will hit me."

    More »
  • 'Little kid with big dream,' Pudge enters Hall

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The speech mirrored his career: spectacular, emotional and passionate, bringing out his intense love for teammates, fans, family and the game of baseball.

    There were times when Ivan Rodriguez had to stop and gather his emotions, especially when talking about his parents, Jose and Eva, his children and his Puerto Rican heritage. But Rodriguez knocked it out of the park and touched all the bases in his speech as he was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "Obviously it's emotional when you see all the fans there cheering for you and your whole family is right in front of you," Rodriguez said after it was over. "I am an emotional person. At the beginning, I was nervous, but after that everything came out OK. It was great, it was emotional, but it was a dream to be a part of this select group."

    It was also a big day for the island of Puerto Rico. The field behind the Clark Sports Center was filled with hundreds of fans waving the Puerto Rico flag and cheering Rodriguez, the fourth player from the island to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Fellow Puerto Rican inductees Roberto Alomar and Orlando Cepeda were present on Sunday, with the fourth being the late Roberto Clemente.

    Hall of Fame Class of 2017 earns immortality

    Video: Ivan Rodriguez shares memory of Nolan Ryan

    "Yeah, I saw a lot of Puerto Rican fans and the flags waving," Rodriguez said. "I greatly appreciate it. It's a great moment. To be the fourth Puerto Rican, very small island, four Hall of Famers in Cooperstown. That tells you how good we are and how we are respected in the game of baseball."

    Rodriguez's speech ended just eight minutes before Adrian Beltre hit a double in Arlington for the 3,000th hit of his career. It was an extraordinary day in the history of the Rangers.

    He is the sixth former Rangers player to be elected to the Hall of Fame and the first position player. The others are Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins, Rich Gossage, Gaylord Perry and Bert Blyleven. Rodriguez, who spent the first 13 of his 21 seasons in Texas, and Ryan are the only ones wearing Rangers caps on their plaques.

    Video: Pudge apologizes to Griffey for his son's accident

    "Now I am going to have the plaque here forever," Rodriguez said. "To see that plaque on the wall with the greatest players who played the game, it's unbelievable.

    He paid tribute to boyhood hero Johnny Bench, told stories about Nolan Ryan and Ken Griffey Jr. and saluted other catchers from Puerto Rico: the Molina brothers, Benito Santiago, Javier Lopez, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jorge Posada. He talked about his childhood dreams.

    Video: Ivan Rodriguez on his nickname Pudge

    "Never let anyone take your dreams from you." Rodriguez said. "Don't let anyone say your dreams cannot be accomplished. Tell them about a short kid who would hang from a rope for hours, dangling there, trying to stretch himself and hoping to become as tall as the other boys.

    "That was me … and obviously, it didn't work. But I did get a cool nickname out of it: Pudge. The little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream."

    Rodriguez paid tribute to every team he played for, including the Marlins, with whom he won a World Series title in 2003, and Detroit, where he played in another in '06. He called out former managers Jack McKeon of the Marlins and Jim Leyland of the Tigers, and mentioned late Tigers owner Mike Illitch.

    Video: Pudge Rodriguez honors the late Mike Illitch

    He saved the last for the Rangers, mentioning former teammates, including Juan Gonzalez, former managers Bobby Valentine and Johnny Oates, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, executives Tom Grieve, Tom Schieffer, John Blake and Taunee Taylor, former owners George W. Bush, Rusty Rose and Tom Hicks, and current owners Bob Simpson, Ray Davis and Neil Leibman.

    "Their wonderful scouts, Sandy Johnson, Manny Batista, Luis Rosa and Omar Minaya, discovered me at the age of 16, and I spent 15 years of my professional life with them," Rodriguez said. "I grew up there and am proud to wear their cap forever in the Baseball Hall of Fame."

    The speech alternated from English to Spanish. Rodriguez went to Spanish when talking about his parents and had to take time to control his emotions before proceeding. He was also emotional when talking about his brother Tito, his wife, Patricia, and his children, Dereck, Amanda and Ivanna.

    "Together, my parents formed the ideal team," Rodriguez said. "They helped me be more than a professional. They helped me be a man. I adore them with all my heart and soul."

    Video: Pudge reminisces about his 2003 World Series team

    He ended the speech by thanking the fans.

    "Don't feel intimidated to ask me for an autograph or a picture,' Rodriguez said. "You're not putting me out. It's my honor. Tell me your favorite Pudge story. Chances are, it's going to put a smile on my face. And you know how much this Hall of Famer loves to smile. 

    "Why wouldn't I be smiling? My earliest childhood memories involve baseball. My entire life has been about baseball. Dream big and know that those dreams do sometimes come true because, well, look at me.

    "The kid hanging from that rope, the kid they call 'Pudge,' I'm here on this stage, in this special place, this baseball heaven called Cooperstown, and my dream has become a reality."

    More »
  • Selig reflects on 'baseball life' at Hall induction

    He oversaw so many changes to baseball and steered the game through so many waters that it was more than appropriate that Bud Selig's shining moment came on the same day as a personal milestone.

    In other words, happy 83rd birthday, Commissioner Emeritus. And welcome to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    That was the mood around Cooperstown, N.Y., on a beautiful Sunday afternoon as Allan Huber Selig was formally enshrined in the Hall during the 2017 Induction Ceremony, and his speech spanned his remarkable life in the game, from his purchase of the Seattle Pilots out of bankruptcy court and move to Milwaukee to call the team the Brewers and begin play in 1970 to his eventual groundbreaking run as MLB Commissioner from 1992 until 2015.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Selig didn't hesitate to thank Hall of Famers Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers and Paul Molitor, who played for his Brewers team that made it to the World Series in 1982.

    "I was able to do something every day that I loved with great passion," Selig said in his speech. "I loved the baseball life. I loved living and dying with each game. I loved watching players come in as nervous rookies and grow and mature to become winners in all sorts of ways, and to take their place on this stage."

    There were trials and tribulations during Selig's tenure as Commissioner, which ended up being the second-longest for a Commissioner behind only Kenesaw Mountain Landis, but his strength through adversity and his expertise as a "bridge-builder" helped him endure. This term was specifically used on his Hall of Fame plaque, powered him to a truly prolific era that lifted baseball to new heights.

    Selig entered the Commissioner's chair during a time in which labor and management were not at peace, but the 1994 strike and cancellation of that year's World Series led to a lasting labor peace that continues today. And the issue of performance-enhancing drugs that affected the sport has led to stringent testing policies that have cleaned up the game with the toughest anti-drug regulations in all of sports.

    Tweet from @baseballhall: Bud Selig, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND https://t.co/CNUftEBVvM pic.twitter.com/KAN92qiNmE

    "I can tell you that having the buck stop at your desk is not necessarily a good feeling, but it is a responsibility that comes with positions of leadership," Selig said.

    Before Selig handed the reins to current Commissioner Rob Manfred, baseball had universally retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42, expanded with new teams in 1993 and 1998, expanded to three divisions per league, added two Wild Card teams, created Interleague Play, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and MLB Network, the World Baseball Classic and the use of instant replay for umpires.

    Video: Selig discusses his friendships with Torre and Aaron

    The sport had grown from a $1.2 billion industry in 1992 to a sport that has annual revenues of $9 billion now.

    "Success came from working together," Selig said of the game's resurgence into the perennial labor peace that enables it to thrive today.

    "The unprecedented success we've achieved over these past 25 years has come from ending the divide, from building harmony, from working as one for the good of the game."

    More »
  • Appreciative of roots, Schuerholz enters Hall

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- In the process of constructing World Series champions in two cities and the greatest era in Braves history, John Schuerholz was fueled by the discipline and determination instilled in him as he was raised in a blue-collar Baltimore neighborhood that recognized his father, grandfather and uncles as some of the city's top athletes.

    As Schuerholz was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon, he thanked the countless players, managers, coaches, scouts and front-office employees who helped him become one of the greatest general managers the game has ever known. But before addressing all of the accomplishments he experienced with the Royals and Braves, he appropriately first expressed genuine appreciation for those family values that helped him remain such a fierce competitor and respected leader throughout his career.

    HOF Class of '17 earns immortality

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "Being born into that Schuerholz family was the first of several events that I believe to have been divine providence, or faith if you will, that has impacted my life in remarkable fashion," Schuerholz said. "Growing up in that family of sportsmen and athletes introduced me early on in my life to the joys and to the challenges of competitive sports, especially baseball. I love baseball."

    The son of a father whose three-year professional baseball career ended because of a broken leg, Schuerholz can look at several of his life's decisions as divine providence. He reluctantly followed his mentor Lou Gorman to Kansas City in 1968 to help build an expansion franchise. But this proved to be a wise decision as he was introduced to his wife, Karen, and guided the Royals to a World Series championship in 1985, four years after being named the club's general manager.

    Video: ATL@PHI: Scheurholz excited to be part of HOF

    When it became clear Bobby Cox was vacating his general manager title to exclusively serve as the Braves' manager at the end of the 1990 season, Schuerholz repeatedly quizzed former Braves president Stan Kasten about his plans. Kasten initially grew excited thinking his top choice would be willing to fill the position.

    Tweet from @baseballhall: John Schuerholz, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND @Braves @Royals pic.twitter.com/3uJcA2JSUM

    Schuerholz briefly altered the mood in early October, when he called to say he couldn't leave the comforts of home Kansas City had created. Three days later, divine providence might have once again played a part as he called back to say, "I made a mistake." Kasten said, "Yeah, I know that you did," and then provided the job to a man who would lead the Braves to the first of 14 consecutive division titles in 1991 -- the worst-to-first season that concluded with an extra-inning loss to the Twins in Game 7 of the World Series.

    "I could have said, 'He turned us down, he must not really want it,'" Kasten said. "I don't buy that. I thought he was the perfect man for the job. I tell that story to people who are thinking about shutting the door in similar situations."

    Currently the Dodgers president, Kasten has now been in Cooperstown three of the past four years. He saw Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Cox inducted in 2014 and returned in 2015 for John Smoltz's induction ceremony. He'll likely return next year to celebrate the career of Chipper Jones, who might be the last of the immortalized members of an era that was significantly influenced by the leadership of Kasten, Schuerholz and Cox.

    Video: John Schuerholz reflects on his relationship with Cox

    "The three of us, me and Bobby and John, had different jobs and we respected the job the others did and let them do their job," Kasten said. "We disagreed lots of times on lots of things, but eventually one of us would have to make a decision and the other two respected that decision."

    Schuerholz's success was rooted in his ability to surround himself with quality employees, who appreciated his willingness to delegate and allow their voices to be heard. He credits this admirable leadership trait to going deaf in his right ear after acquiring German Measles when he was 5 years old.

    Video: Schuerholz talks about his Hall of Fame induction

    "I had to learn to be a more attentive and intentional listener, which I believe worked quite well throughout my life," Schuerholz said. "Divine providence? Faith? You bet."

    Schuerholz's longtime assistant general manager in both Kansas City and Atlanta, Dean Taylor was a first-year, entry-level employee in the Royals' baseball operations department in 1981. Still, his opinion was requested when Schuerholz asked staff members whether to take Mark Gubicza or C.L. Penigar with the team's second-round Draft pick. Gubicza is now a member of the Royals' Hall of Fame. Penigar never advanced past Triple-A.

    "That was the first example I ever saw of his complete inclusionary management style," Taylor said. "He wanted to get everyone's opinion before the final decision was made. As I went through [my career] with him, I came to find that was John Schuerholz."

    Video: Schuerholz talks about upgrading from the lawn seats

    Kasten, Taylor and current Royals general manager Dayton Moore were among the many current and former co-workers present as Schuerholz savored the opportunity to stand proudly on a stage filled with fellow Hall of Famers, while looking at the crowd he had been a part of during previous induction ceremonies.

    "I really, really did like my seat out there on that lawn, but I must confess, I love my new seat up here on this stage a lot more," Schuerholz said.

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  • Hall of Fame Weekend: In Real Life

    We are on the scene in Cooperstown, N.Y., to celebrate the Class of 2017 -- Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig -- being enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    4:34 p.m. ET: Raines-maker!
    "I want to thank the writers. For the past 10 years people would always ask me, 'Why aren't you in the Hall of Fame?' Thank God I don't have to answer that question." More >

    Tweet from @baseballhall: Tim Raines, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND pic.twitter.com/1hNCK9t7PS

    4:16 p.m. ET: From one great to another
    Pudge Rodriguez: "The first time I caught Nolan Ryan in 1991, we sat down in the coaches room. We talked to [then Rangers pitching coach] Tom House. He came in the first time. We met, I didn't speak the language. I saw Nolan and the one thing he said was, 'Kid, you don't have to do too much.' And I said, 'OK.' 'Kid, all you have to do is put fingers down, and I'll throw the baseball to you.'"

    Video: Pudge apologizes to Griffey for his son's accident

    3:57 p.m. ET: Pudge stands tall
    "To the youngsters, may this moment remind you that destiny is in your hands. ... Everything in life is possible." More >

    Tweet from @baseballhall: Pudge Rodr��guez, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND pic.twitter.com/e0CQyj1s7Y

    3:24 p.m. ET: You made it, Mr. Commissioner
    "For so many years I sat behind and watched as each new member was inducted. Now, as I stand here, I am humbled to receive this highest honor." More >

    Tweet from @baseballhall: Bud Selig, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND https://t.co/CNUftEBVvM pic.twitter.com/KAN92qiNmE

    3:07 p.m. ET: We beg to differ
    Jeff Bagwell: "My swing is something that you really don't want to teach your kids."

    Video: Jeff Bagwell reflects on conversation with Anderson

    Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Janice Bagwell on her son's @baseballhall induction pic.twitter.com/pUNwF4IETr

    2:49 p.m. ET: Welcome to Cooperstown, Jeff
    "The only thing I wanted to be was a good teammate." More >

    Tweet from @baseballhall: Jeff Bagwell, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND @astros https://t.co/tMjjxR8Pk4 pic.twitter.com/jj5S3vY31Q

    Tweet from @baseballhall: .@astros fans showing up in full-force for Jeff Bagwell. #HOFWKND (Photo: @jeanfruth) pic.twitter.com/fDowt7wkrv

    2:28 p.m. ET: Schuerholz enters Hall of Fame
    "Being born into a baseball family is one of the things of divine providence. I was introduced to competitive sport at an early age, especially baseball. I have loved it all my life." More >

    Tweet from @baseballhall: John Schuerholz, welcome to immortality. #FirstLook #HOFWKND @Braves @Royals pic.twitter.com/3uJcA2JSUM

    Video: Schuerholz talks about upgrading from the lawn seats

    1:00 p.m. ET: Clementes come home
    Vera Clemente, the widow of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, and son, Luis Clemente, arrive at the Clark Sports Center.

    12:45 p.m. ET: The future's game
    A reminder of why today's induction ceremony matters.

    12:40 p.m. ET: Baseball lifer
    Legendary baseball fan Homer Osterhoudt, 99, is seated and ready. He attended the first Hall of Fame induction on June 12, 1939, and has attended 70 of 73 inductions. His photos are featured in the Hall of Fame.

    Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Barry Axelrod, the long-time agent of Bagwell and Biggio pic.twitter.com/nsVVwTHBgd

    12:35 p.m. ET: Pilgrimage
    They call Cooperstown the Mecca of baseball for a reason.

    12:27 p.m. ET: Memories
    Dodgers senior advisor of baseball operations Gerry Hunsicker (left) speaks with Moises Alou, whom he traded for in 1997 when he was the Astros' general manager, before the induction ceremony gets underway.

    Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Moises Alou talks Bagwell pic.twitter.com/1EjCLdR9LO

    12:19 p.m. ET: Houston, we have a (cuteness) problem
    Luigi and Cooper look natty in matching Astros jerseys on Main St. in Cooperstown.

    Tweet from @alysonfooter: Former Astros owner Drayton McLane: "I would have driven my bicycle from Texas to be here." pic.twitter.com/wWiAaRIfOY

    12:11 p.m. ET: History in your hand
    Fans in Cooperstown can take home baseballs signed by Hall of Famers like Bill Mazeroski and Bob Feller along with a host of MLB greats.

    11:59 p.m. ET: Ivan to believe
    Ivan Rodriguez has a large following at the Hall of Fame induction.

    Tweet from @JohnnyBench_5: We're getting a new catcher in the @baseballhall today. Welcome @Pudge_Rodriguez from me and last year's C inductee @mikepiazza31. pic.twitter.com/A2Mn6I5PvP

    11:29 a.m. ET: Art imitating life
    Justyn Farano, the official artist of the Hall of Fame induction, touches up one of his latest pieces.

    Tweet from @brianmctaggart: No drones pic.twitter.com/GASl0KAk6u

    Sunday 11:07 a.m. ET: Beautiful day for a Hall call
    Fans begin to settle in for today's enshrinement ceremony at the Clark Sports Center.

    Tweet from @alysonfooter: An absolutely perfect day for a Hall of Fame induction! pic.twitter.com/DJAOrBtIxL

    Saturday 8:50 p.m. ET: Pudge in good company
    Ivan Rodriguez is joined by a former teammate and another Hall of Fame catcher in Cooperstown.

    Tweet from @Sullivan_Ranger: Ivan Rodriguez, Ruben Sierra and Johnny Bench at the Rangers Hall of Fame party pic.twitter.com/jfe5EK5Ya1

    7:20 p.m. ET: Baseball Royalty

    Video: Brett greets Royals fans at Hall of Fame parade

    4:50 p.m. ET: Treble Jeff
    Jeff Bagwell fans come in all shapes and sizes: small, medium, large -- and in the case of these brothers -- adorably tiny. Main Street in Cooperstown is teeming with baseball fans of all ages. 

    Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Astros fans lined up for parade pic.twitter.com/I3fAw2SkG5

    2:55 p.m. ET: Executive privilege
    Braves vice chairman and Class of 2017 inductee John Schuerholz holds court with the media on Saturday.

    Video: Schuerholz humbled by Hall of Fame enshrinement

    2:49 p.m. ET: Triptych
    The former-player contingent of the Class of 2017 speaks with reporters on the eve of its induction.

    Video: Bagwell happy to make Houston proud with HOF honor

    2:39 p.m. ET: Induction production
    The stage is set for tomorrow's induction ceremony (coverage starts tomorrow at noon ET on MLB Network and MLB.com).

    Video: Raines looking forward to Hall of Fame speech

    1:53 p.m. Scrum-ptious
    Astros fans traveled in droves to Cooperstown, and it looks like the media did too. Somewhere in there sits a Hall of Famer -- we're just not sure where. 

    Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Bagwell says it's a "crazy feeling" and "humbling" to be a Hall of Famer pic.twitter.com/H9gEratBUi

    1:50 p.m. ET: Pudge, meet Little Pudge
    Only one of these two is getting inducted tomorrow.

    Video: Pudge excited to be member of HOF class of 2017

    1:04 p.m. ET: Houston in the house
    Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio fans are everywhere in Cooperstown.

    Tweet from @Sullivan_Ranger: Texas Rangers locker in the Hall of Fame...check out whose jersey is hanging there pic.twitter.com/way06mShLe

    12:33 p.m. ET: Fore (NL Cy Young Awards)!
    Greg Maddux teeing off during today's Hall of Fame golf outing. Maddux played with his son, Chase, and Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk.

    Tweet from @JesseSanchezMLB: Main Street in Cooperstown is already buzzing. The Hall of Fame parade starts in about five hours.#HOFwknd pic.twitter.com/IN3NMTqyIy

    12:22 p.m. ET: Johnson's John Hancock
    Sometimes, an autograph from a Hall of Famer like Randy Johnson is better than a hole-in-one. The legendary left-hander met with fans outside Cooperstown's golf course.

    Tweet from @richardjustice: "She remembers the Shot Heard Round the World because she was in labor with my brother."--@MzCSmith pic.twitter.com/GaNgsw5ce5

    12:16 p.m. ET: Expo-sition
    The Expos are forever at the Hall of Fame.

    Tweet from @VladGuerrero27: Expos pride. pic.twitter.com/aYiebO9Qmo

    12:14 p.m. ET
    More than seven hours before the Hall of Fame Legends Parade was scheduled to arrive near the Hall of Fame on Main Street, fans were already clamoring to secure their spots alongside the route. 

    Tweet from @astros: The #BagwellHOF celebrations kicked off last night with an #Astros event featuring some Astros Legends! pic.twitter.com/zDbVtfr5wv

    12:11 p.m. ET
    Jackie Robinson's cap from 1955 World Series resides in the Hall of Fame

    Video: Carew recalls suffering a heart attack

    11:22 a.m. ET
    Hall of Famer Rod Carew discusses his heart transplant during a news conference at the Clark Sports Center.

    Video: Rod Carew discusses his heart transplant

    Video: Rod Carew talks about coincidence of his heart donor

    Video: Rod Carew talks about his well wishers

    11:03 a.m. ET
    Claire Smith, the 2017 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, said her acceptance speech will be a love letter to her son Joshua, and through him, a thank you to the people who've accompanied her in her journey. The Spink Award is the highest honor a baseball writer can receive.

    Video: Claire Smith on Jackie Robinson's impact on her

    10:52 a.m. ET
    Astros fans are pumped for Jeff Bagwell's induction. They are already lining Cooperstown's Main Street for tonight's Hall of Fame parade.

    More »
  • HOF Class of '17 earns immortality

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The National Baseball Hall of Fame represents dreams.

    No matter how long the wait. No matter how different the journey. That was the theme on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon in which five remarkable baseball journeys ended with the game's highest honor.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "Never let anyone take your dreams from you," Ivan Rodriguez said. "Tell them about a short kid dangling from a rope to try and make himself as tall as the other boys -- the little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream."

    Hall of Fame Weekend: In Real Life

    Standing in front of 50 returning Hall of Famers for the ceremony, Rodriguez joined two other former players -- Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines -- in the Class of 2017. Also inducted were two of the game's most accomplished executives -- former Braves and Royals general manager John Schuerholz and Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig.

    The acceptance speeches were of mothers and fathers, of wives and children. They spoke of teammates and friends, managers and coaches. Some cried, some laughed and some did both as they attempted to find some context for an honor most of them never expected to receive.

    Video: Must C Cooperstown: Five inducted into the HOF

    "It's just not what you think about when you're a player," said Bagwell, a first baseman with the Astros for 15 seasons. "You don't play for the Hall of Fame. You play because you love to play and to win."

    Hall has Bagwell reflective of rise to Astros star

    And yet, Bagwell called the honor "overwhelming" and said he was a bundle of nerves when he began his speech.

    Video: Manfred reads Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame plaque

    "I'm standing here trying to figure out what's going on," he began. "I'm humble and I'm grateful."

    Selig was inducted on his 83rd birthday. He said his half-century in baseball, first as owner of the Brewers and then 22 years as Commissioner, had been the stuff "of a little boy's dream."

    Video: Rob Manfred reads Bud Selig's Hall Of Fame plaque

    He oversaw a renaissance of the game -- labor peace, technology, revenue sharing, competitive balance, Wild Card berths -- during his tenure.

    "To these Hall of Famers, I am honored to be in your presence," Selig said. "On your shoulders, this game became part of the fabric of our country, and we are forever indebted to you.

    Selig reflects on 'baseball life' at Hall induction

    "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.

    "Now, as I stand here at this moment, I am humbled."

    His longtime friend, Schuerholz, was as well, using his speech to detail a life that began as a teacher in Baltimore, and then thanks to the faith of executives with the Orioles, Royals and Braves hiring him, brought him to this time and place.

    Video: John Schuerholz reflects on his relationship with Cox

    He constructed the Royals team that won the 1985 World Series and then was the architect of 14 straight postseason clubs in Atlanta. He's universally respected for hiring good people and then empowering them, an approach that was both thoughtful and aggressive.

    "I love baseball," he said. "I've loved it all my life. My dad instilled in me a love of the game."

    Appreciative of roots, Schuerholz enters Hall

    He thanked the people who'd helped him to this honor, from players like George Brett and John Smoltz, to managers like Dick Howser and Bobby Cox.

    Raines, 57, waited 10 years before receiving enough votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He benefited from the game's statistical data revolution, which brought his many contributions into focus.

    "We've been waiting for a long time," Raines said. "And that day has come."

    Rock solid: Raines' status cemented at Hall

    His gift was reaching base (.385 OBP), scoring runs (1,571) and stealing bases (808). His speed and ability get on base made him one of the game's most disruptive offensive forces and probably one of baseball's two or three best players for about a four- or five-year stretch in the '80s.

    Video: Rob Manfred reads Tim Raines' Hall of Fame plaque

    Raines thanked sportswriter Jonah Keri for a tireless campaign on his behalf, and then choked back tears while talking about his family.

    "My dad worked eight to 10 hours a day, then took his shoes off and went in the backyard and played with us," Raines said. "He taught us about hard work. Nothing was ever going to be given to you."

    And then of his mother, Sue, he said, "He taught us about hard work. She made us do the hard work."

    Video: Bagwell on learning perseverance from his father

    As for Bagwell, during 15 seasons with the Astros, he was a complete player, hitting 449 home runs, stealing 202 bases and amassing a .948 OPS. Along with fellow Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, he helped the Astros to six playoff appearances.

    "The thing about my career I'm proudest of is that I tried to do everything well," he said. "It wasn't just hitting home runs. I enjoyed the stolen bases more than anything else. It was the only number I cared about at the end of my career.

    "Baseball is about relationships. We spend so much time together. It's the relationships you make that gave me an opportunity to grow as a man. The only thing I wanted to do is be a good teammate -- someone you could count on."

    Video: Ivan Rodriguez gives advice to his kids

    Rodriguez got to the Hall of Fame during his first year on the ballot. He was one of the game's great defensive catchers as well as a .296 hitter. Only 5-foot-9, he spoke of the challenges of being smaller but also of a relentless drive to be great.

    'Little kid with big dream,' Pudge enters Hall

    His arm was so good that he simply shut down running games. He also hit .300 for eight straight seasons, something only one other catcher (Mike Piazza) had done. He averaged 22 home runs during those eight seasons.

    He cried when speaking of his family, especially his brother Tito and his parents.

    "I know that dreams sometimes come true," he said.

    More »
  • Baseball in Montreal gets moment in the sun

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There's something sweet that happens at the end of Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The speeches end and then the people who came from all over spill out into the quiet neighborhoods of Cooperstown.

    When they get there, families are sitting in lawn chairs to watch. Some seem to just want to see the parade of people walk by. Children sell lemonade. High school students try to raise money for a class trip to Los Angeles. It's a community celebration. You can get a bottle of ice cold water for a dollar, or maybe 50 cents if you look sweaty enough. The air smells of barbecue.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    A man who looks like Babe Ruth wears a wool Yankees uniform and sits on a stone wall on the side of the road. "Yeah, I'm here in Cooperstown," he says into his cellphone.

    "Look at this," a guy who is wearing a Jeff Bagwell jersey says. And he points out to the street where you can see perhaps 300 people -- parents, grandparents, children -- and almost all of them are wearing Bagwell jerseys (some have Craig Biggio jerseys on; there is an occasional Moises Alou or Lance Berkman jersey among them too).

    "It's like walking up to Minute Maid Park," he says with wonder.

    While the weekend is certainly about the inductees -- all five of Sunday's speeches by John Schuerholz, Jeff Bagwell, Bud Selig, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Raines were touching in their own ways -- this is also that rare moment for fans to go back in time for a few hours, to remember, to celebrate the baseball of their childhood or when they took their own children to their first games.

    That's why the coolest thing for me this weekend was seeing all the Expos jerseys.

    There's a feeling -- and it's only a feeling at the moment -- that the idea of baseball returning to Montreal is gaining some momentum. Commissioner Rob Manfred, when discussing possible expansion, always seems to mention Montreal. And former Commissioner Selig, who insists he did everything he could to keep baseball in Montreal, spent much of the weekend talking about Montreal baseball, too.

    "There's no doubt in my mind," he said, "that Montreal is a big league market. ... Nothing would make me happier than to see baseball in Montreal again."

    But even more than the few words anyone has said -- after all, there are many hurdles to clear, like building a new stadium and finding an owner -- this weekend was a reminder of just how wonderful and gripping baseball was in Montreal.

    "Moises," Bagwell said during his speech of his beloved teammate Moises Alou, "is wearing an Expos hat."

    Video: Bagwell talks about his friendship with Alou

    The celebration, of course, built around the induction of Raines, the third of the great Expos Triumvirate of the 1970s and 1980s. Catcher Gary Carter went into the Hall of Fame first, then it was Andre Dawson and now Raines. With the unlikelihood of Steve Rogers ever getting elected (Rogers was not quite a Hall of Famer, but he was a superb pitcher), you got the sense that this was the last chance for Expos fans to come together and remember how much fun it was. Raines tried to speak a little French to those fans, but couldn't quite get it together.

    "I'm sorry," he said sheepishly. "I practiced all night."

    Video: Tim Raines jokes about batting fifth in the lineup

    Nobody minded. Raines had been the Hall of Fame project of many Expos fans, led by sportswriter Jonah Keri (and seconded by our own Statcast™ guru Tom Tango); for a long time it seemed that Raines, like the Expos themselves, was destined to be overlooked.

    A player needs 75 percent of the baseball writers' vote to get elected, and Raines did not get even 50 percent of the vote until his fifth year on the ballot (he promptly fell below 50 percent the next year). But with various fans pushing his case, and with somewhat more modern stats like on-base percentage and WAR shining a brighter light on his career, he jumped to 55 percent in his eighth year, to 69 percent in his ninth and then this year, his last on the ballot, he made it all the way up to 86 percent.

    And that meant people from all over coming to Cooperstown wearing the old red and blue of the Expos. Rodger Brulotte, the old Expos French broadcaster, told a wonderful story of a time when the Expos were facing a rain delay.

    "Do you want to play this game?" he asked the manager, who said no. So Rodger called the local weatherman and told him that when he was called about the weather, he should say that he expected rain for the next three hours.

    "The game was called," Rodger says, smiling. "And it didn't rain at all."

    The sun shone brightly Sunday, too, lighting up those Expos jerseys, and I randomly asked a dozen or so Expos fans if they thought baseball might make a return to Montreal. Each and every one sort of shrugged.

    "I'd love it," one woman wearing a Raines jersey said, sort of summing up the overall view. "But I don't know."

    For the time being, she was just happy being in Cooperstown to remember when Tim Raines was stealing bases and Andre Dawson was throwing out runners from the outfield and Gary Carter was mashing home runs. It was so much fun.

    More »
  • Schuerholz's HOF induction special for Black

    WASHINGTON -- Former Royals and Braves general manager John Schuerholz, inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, made many shrewd moves. One of them was his first trade -- which landed him left-handed pitcher Bud Black, now the Rockies' manager.

    The Royals sent the Mariners infielder Manny Castillo on Oct. 23, 1981, for a player to be named. How Black was eventually named, on March 2, 1982, was a story of a man taking advantage of an opportunity.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    The late Tom Ferrick, a pitcher for five teams in the 1940s and '50s, was working as a Royals special-assignment scout with an emphasis on pitching when fate led him to scout Black, a 17th-round pick by the Mariners in the 1979 Draft.

    "The big league players go on strike, remember?" Black recalled. "So I'm pitching in Double-A, Lynn, Mass., and all the Major League scouts are in the Minor Leagues, watching Minor League players.

    "At this time, I wasn't really a prospect with the Mariners. I started the season on the Double-A disabled list and when I got activated, I was in middle relief."

    But injuries and performance issues forced Black into the rotation, and he responded.

    "There was a three-start stretch in July of '81 where I pitched, like, three complete games in a row and struck out, like, 12, 13 and 14," Black said. "The first game, Tom Ferrick was one of John Schuerholz's right-hand men and he saw me pitch. And the story goes, he followed me to Bristol and I punched out, like, 13, and he followed me to New Haven. He saw me pitch three times and sort of logged it."

    After the Castillo trade, Ferrick told Schuerholz about "a Double-A pitcher that's really under the radar." Black went to the Royals during Spring Training, and Black would be part of the rotation when the Royals won the 1985 World Series.

    And Schuerholz, who would trade Black to the Indians in 1988 for corner infielder/outfielder Pat Tabler, became "a great sounding board for me in a number of areas," Black said. "So I feel very fortunate to have played for John's clubs, and I got to know him as a friend and an advisor over the years. I'm very happy for him, for the induction today."

    More »
  • Cooperstown hosting historic Hall speeches

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Every Hall of Fame class has its own character, of course, but there really has never been a class quite like the one that will get inducted in Cooperstown today. It's a class that celebrates just about everything we love about baseball, a class of speed (Tim Raines), power (Jeff Bagwell) and defense (Ivan Rodriguez), a class that honors consistency (John Schuerholz) and history (Bud Selig).

    Watch LIVE: 2017 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Cooperstown is a unique place. It was believed, for a time, to be the birthplace of baseball, and while, no, the game was not invented here, the village is, as this year's J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Claire Smith says, "memory encrusted." Baseball is everywhere you turn. "Jack the Banjo Man" wears a straw hat plays "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," in the town square. Children wearing baseball caps walk up and down Main Street eating ice cream cones.

    Baseball conversations come to life.

    "Steve Garvey was an All-Star for eight straight years," Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau is saying as he discusses Garvey's Hall of Fame candidacy.

    "Um," someone says, "he's at the table right next to us."

    "Earl Weaver was talking about Cal Ripken …" Steve says a few minutes later.

    "Um," someone says, "Cal's two tables over."

    No, baseball was not invented in Cooperstown, but it should have been, and every year it is as if baseball gets to start again. On Saturday, a parade of Hall of Famers rolled along Main Street while fantastic-but-not-quite-Hall-of-Fame players such as Dale Murphy and Ruben Sierra are on the sidewalk meeting with fans. At the glorious little baseball stadium called Doubleday Field, Smith gave a touching speech about her pioneering career as a writer. The magnificent Oakland A's broadcaster Bill King was posthumously awarded the Ford C. Frick Award. Jackie Robinson's 95-year-old widow Rachel Robinson, everybody's hero, said a few words after winning the Buck O'Neil Award for her lifelong contribution to the game.

    "I've felt so wonderful since I've been here," Rachel Robinson said.

    Now comes the Sunday induction, and five remarkable journeys that cover every corner of the game. You want to talk defense: "Pudge" Rodriguez grew up in Puerto Rico on the stories of the great Roberto Clemente. Pudge never wanted to be anything but a ballplayer. He developed into an indestructible defensive whirlwind, who picked off and threw out base runners with jaw-dropping throws.

    Video: Pudge excited to be member of HOF class of 2017

    Speed? Raines had that all his life; he grew up in Sanford, Fla., and he was a high school football star. He averaged 10.5 yards per carry his senior year. Baseball was his love, though, and he stole bases with scientific precision. Nobody, not even his great contemporary Rickey Henderson, could match Raines' 85 percent success rate. Even after Raines lost a step or two, in those years after he turned 34, he successfully stole 57 of 69 bases.

    "I loved the game of cat and mouse," he said. "I really didn't think I should ever get thrown out."

    Video: NYM@MON: Raines steals 808th base, last of his career

    Power? The big question about Bagwell as he came up in the Boston Red Sox organization was whether or not he would develop power. The Red Sox rather famously bet that he would not, trading him in 1990 for reliever Larry Andersen in an all-in effort to try and win the World Series that year. Bagwell is not an especially big man, but he developed a swing that was like a boxer's right-cross, compact, direct, devastating. He smashed 969 extra-base hits. Many pitchers of his time still say Bagwell was the scariest hitter to face.

    Video: MIN@OAK: Bagwell gets inducted into the 2017 HOF

    Consistency? General managers tend not to spark admiration or passion, but Schuerholz always seemed to have things under control. He was a school teacher once, and he never lost that ability. And, in the end, isn't this exactly what you want from a GM? Schuerholz would come out wearing his famous suspenders (he says he will not wear suspenders during the Hall of Fame speech because "they don't make shirts for them anymore"). He would talk about the faith he had in his players and management. He would never seem to panic, never seem to let the ups and downs of the game move him up or down. Maybe that's how you win 16 division titles, six pennants and two World Series.

    Video: Glavine remembers Schuerholz's key decisions

    And history: Selig was involved in just about every single thing that happened in baseball for the last half century or so. People will argue about his legacy, but no one argues that he changed baseball, no one argues that the baseball played today is a game shaped by Selig. And his role in bringing baseball back to Milwaukee still stands out.

    It will also be Selig's birthday Sunday -- his 83rd birthday -- and that meant is was exactly 68 years ago that his mother took him to Yankee Stadium for the first time. It was a birthday present, and just before the game they rolled a birthday cake on the field.

    Video: Bud Selig on starting in baseball, getting to HOF

    "Wow," Bud said to his mother, "this is too much. I didn't need a giant birthday cake."

    The cake, naturally, was for Yankees manager Casey Stengel, born exactly 44 years before Selig was born.

    All of it should happen during what is predicted to be the best weather for a Hall of Fame celebration in memory. The sun should be out, the temperature should be cool, and a nice wind might be blowing.

    "Can't you just feel the spirit of Jackie Robinson in the gentle breezes?" Claire Smith asked. And the answer is: Yes. You can.

    More »
  • HOF Weekend brings magic to Cooperstown

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- They are here to celebrate greatness. They are here to celebrate pioneers. They come from across the map, young and old, drawn by baseball's timeless appeal.

    Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson are back again. Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron are as well. In all, 55 of 73 living members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are on hand for this induction weekend.

    They are here to laugh and to remember. To see them together is to feel a simultaneous rush of memories and joy. They come to joke and golf and to catch up.

    They come simply to be around one another because, in the end, they've been places and heard cheers that only they understand. They're also here to honor a new induction class.

    This one includes three former players -- Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and Tim Raines -- and two executives in former Commissioner Bud Selig and John Schuerholz of the Braves and Royals.

    Video: Bagwell on his HOF career, sticking with one club

    Jackie Robinson Foundation founder Rachel Robinson, sportswriter and editor Claire Smith and late A's broadcaster Bill King will be honored as well for lives that blessed an entire sport with good work, courage and dignity.

    On this weekend, a tiny village of beauty and tranquility bubbles with energy and anticipation. On Friday morning, a man sat on a stool across Main Street from the Hall of Fame playing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" on a banjo as visitors filed by happily.

    Every induction weekend is unique in its own way, because every inductee has his own story to tell. And some years, the honorees, those who are saluted by the Hall but not actually inducted into the Hall of Fame, have some of the best stories.

    On a busy Saturday, Hall of Famers will begin the day with a golf tournament that's a little about golf and a lot about laughter and reminiscing.

    On Saturday afternoon, the new induction class will hold a news conference to discuss Sunday's ceremony. After that, all the Hall of Famers will gather at Doubleday Field to salute this year's Hall of Fame award winners, including Robinson, who will receive the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award for seven decades of service to the game. The ceremony will be broadcast live on MLB.com and then again on MLB Network at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday.

    After her husband's death in 1972, she worked tirelessly with the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation to manage housing for low-income families and with the Jackie Robinson Foundation to award college scholarships to high school students.

    Smith, now an editor with ESPN and a former baseball writer with The New York Times and Hartford Courant, will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, becoming the first woman to receive this prestigious honor.

    Smith was one of the first women to serve as a Major League beat reporter, covering the Yankees for the Hartford Courant for five years starting in 1983. She was then a columnist for The New York Times from 1991-98 and The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. Like Rachel Robinson, Smith's friends know her for her strength and dignity.

    Also being honored is the late Bill King, who was the voice of the Oakland A's for 25 years and will receive the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.

    Video: Raines discusses his upcoming Hall of Fame induction

    Afterwards, the Hall of Famers will be honored with a parade down Main Street and a private reception at the Hall of Fame. At the center of this weekend is the Hall of Fame itself.

    It's where cynicism melts away, where baseball's story is told and its history celebrated through artifacts, words and art. Old-timers are made to feel young again. Youngsters feel the greatness of Babe Ruth.

    There's no place else on earth like it. There's also nothing like an induction weekend in Cooperstown.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

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  • Award testament to Robinson's integrity

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Rachel Robinson's legacy is a simple one. She represents the best of us. Her life has been one of unshakeable courage, and in the face of sometimes incomprehensible cruelty, her dignity and grace have been unwavering.

    She has dedicated her life to leaving this world better than she found it, whether by supporting her husband Jackie in his quest for racial fairness, or in leading foundations that provided everything from housing to college scholarships.

    For her good work and a life well lived, Robinson, 95, was given the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award by the board of directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday afternoon.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    She's the fourth winner of an award first given in 2008 to honor someone whose work in baseball and whose "character, integrity and dignity" are in the spirit of O'Neil, the Negro Leagues legend, who died in 2006 after eight decades working in and around baseball.

    "Rachel has worked tirelessly to raise the level of equality, not only in baseball, but throughout society," Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said. "Through her grace, her dignity, her unsurpassed spirit, she continues to show the value, the decency and the importance of inclusiveness. She personifies the strengths of Buck O'Neil, and certainly personifies his character."

    Rachel accepted the award at Doubleday Field, a few hundred feet from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and with an array of Hall of Famers applauding.

    Frank Robinson was there and Joe Morgan as well, two of the players who've said they owe their careers in Major League Baseball to Jackie Robinson's breaking of the game's color line on April 15, 1947.

    That's the most important date in baseball history, because its impact was felt around the United States. That step -- a black man playing with white baseball players -- forced people to see the world in a way they'd never seen it before.

    This happened before President Truman integrated the Army in 1948 and before the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling began the desegregation of public schools.

    Video: Rachel Robinson reflects on O'Neil Award significance

    Rachel Robinson supported her husband of 26 years, every step of the way, and in 1997, she supported baseball's decision to retire his No. 42 throughout the sport.

    In returning to Cooperstown, she remembered her husband's 1962 induction into the Hall of Fame.

    "I have such fond memories," she said. "It was a glorious day for our family."

    But Rachel Robinson carved out another life for herself after her husband died in 1972. She received a master's degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University and became director of nursing for the Connecticut Mental Health Center and an assistant professor at Yale.

    She started the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation to build and provide housing for moderate- and low-income families. She also formed the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which has provided financial and mentorship support to more than 1,500 students.

    Video: Rachel Robinson reflects on foundation's achievements

    "We are so proud of the nearly 100 percent graduation rate of our Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars," she said. "It makes me proud that our 1,500 alumni display an ongoing commitment to community service and stay very active in that area."

    These works mean that the heart and spirit of Jackie and Rachel Robinson will continue to impact the world for years to come.

    "For me, today is a brilliant source of encouragement," he said. "I've felt so wonderful since I've been here, and I thank you all."

    Video: Robinson family, Scully go to Robinson statue tribute

    This baseball season began with Rachel and her children, Sharon and David, attending the unveiling of a Jackie Robinson Statue at Dodger Stadium. That statue -- the first of any kind at Dodger Stadium -- shows Jackie sliding into home plate and and includes some of Jackie's iconic quotes.

    This is one: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

    Video: A look at the Jackie Robinson Museum groundbreaking

    Rachel Robinson also attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan. It's scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.

    "The museum will expand our missions and give us a venue for vibrant dialogue on social issues and also a destination for innovative educational programming," she said.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

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  • Hall addresses bring memorable moments

    Ken Griffey Jr. placed a National Baseball Hall of Fame cap with the brim facing backward upon his head and tried to hold back the tears as he looked beyond the podium, the tens of thousands in attendance roaring in applause.

    He was enshrined amongst the greatest players to play the game. It was his moment. His dream had come true.

    It's time for the newest class of Hall of Famers -- Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines -- to take their place at the podium, the same one "The Kid" stood behind this time last year, and tell the story of their remarkable baseball journeys.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    Both Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza, baseball's two Hall of Fame inductees in 2016, touched the souls of baseball fans across the nation with heartfelt speeches that rivaled some of the best in induction history.

    Griffey, the first overall pick by the Mariners in 1987, and Piazza, a 62nd-round selection by the Dodgers in 1988, could not have had their careers start on more different ends of the spectrum. And yet, 30-plus years later, both men shared that same stage, having achieved baseball immortality.

    Video: Humorous Hall of Fame speech moments

    "The only thing [Griffey and I] have in common is two arms and two legs," Piazza quipped. But there was one other thing: the role their fathers played in helping them become great.

    "My father's faith in me, often greater than my own, is the single most important factor of me being inducted into this Hall of Fame," Piazza said.

    "My dad taught me how to play the game," said Griffey, struggling to utter the words as he choked up. "But more importantly, he taught me to be a man."

    From Griffey and Piazza's tributes to Kirby Puckett's inspirational address and Ted Williams' admiration for the stars of the Negro Leagues, there have been countless memorable Hall of Fame speeches delivered over the years.

    Video: Emotional Hall of Fame speech moments

    "I want you to remember the guiding principles of my life," Puckett said. "You can be what you want to be if you believe in yourself and you work hard because anything, and I'm telling you anything, is possible."

    Rodriguez, Bagwell and Raines now take their turns on the stage in Cooperstown, shedding light on their voyage to achieving baseball's highest personal honor.

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  • Rodriguez celebrated on way to Hall

    COOPERSTOWN -- Ivan Rodriguez is not alone in Cooperstown. His family is here to see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame today (11 a.m. CT on MLB Network and MLB.com), and so is an impressive group of Rangers players and executives -- past and present -- who were excited to share their memories of "Pudge."

    Among them are Sandy Johnson, the Rangers' scouting director who originally signed Rodriguez in 1988, and Tom Grieve, who was the general manager at the time. Tom Schieffer was the club president when Rodriguez made his Major League debut June 20, 1991, against the Chicago White Sox.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Rudy Jaramillo was a roving hitting coach in the Minor Leagues when Rodriguez first joined the organization, and Bobby Jones was his manager in 1990 at Class A Port Charlotte. Darren Oliver was his teammate at Class A Gastonia in 1989, and Ruben Sierra was his teammate and mentor at the big league level.

    Geno Petralli was the Rangers' starting catcher who needed knee surgery in 1991 That was the injury that brought Rodriguez to the big leagues.

    Johnson: We were at a tryout camp in Puerto Rico. I was talking to somebody else in the dugout, and my scout [Doug Gassaway], who was with me, came in from center field, and said that little guy just threw 93 miles per hour to second base. So, we kind of shut down everything and concentrated on Pudge. We had him swing the bat and run the 60-yard dash. I had him throw for me and he threw just one [throw] and I said, "That's enough, let's get this done."

    Video: Johnny Bench on Ivan Rodriguez, catcher position

    Jaramillo: I think we brought him to Spring Training for a week, and it was a sight to be seen. We put him in a uniform and he threw to second base, and I guarantee you the four fields stopped. He couldn't have been 5-foot-4 at the time, and the ball was about this high going through the bag. It was the most incredible thing you ever saw.

    Oliver: He couldn't speak a lot of English, and I couldn't speak a lot of Spanish. We made it work though. We were so young. He was on the fast track. He always said he was the only one who could catch me. My ball moved around a lot. I didn't always know where it was going. He was the only one who caught me. Nobody else could catch me.

    Video: Pudge arrives at HOF parade, salutes fans

    Jones: He was head and shoulders above everybody else. You knew he was going to be a good player. Hall of Famer? Who knows. When the [1990 Class A] season started we were playing the Cardinals out of St. [Petersburg], and they had guys who could run. He was gunning guys down, picking guys off first. It was awesome to watch. The other manager came to me and said, "Why are you catching him all the time. I'm not going to steal any more, you got Pudge behind the plate."

    Grieve: I remember there was an injury [to Petralli in 1991] and we needed a catcher. I remembered back in Spring Training when Orlando Gomez made the comment -- he was our scout in Puerto Rico and a manager in the Minor Leagues -- that the best catcher in the organization was Pudge Rodriguez. So, I said, "That's pretty good counting Triple-A and everything." He said, "No Senor, that's big leagues down to Rookie League. He is our best catcher. "

    He was in Double-A. We asked for Pudge, and they said, "There is only one complication. He is supposed to get married at home plate at our ballpark in Tulsa" the next morning. And we said, "OK, let him get married at home plate and we'll have him in Chicago the next day after that." So, they talked to Pudge and he said, "No, I can get married [anytime] but I'm going to the big leagues."

    Schieffer: We all went up to Chicago to watch the first game. I don't remember who the player was [Joey Cora] but they tried to steal second base. He was out, and it was by 15 feet. I remember we had a charity auction for the foundation at the end of the year. You gave the player his home jersey and had the road jersey up for auction. I bought Pudge's rookie jersey and gave it to my son. I told my son, this kid is going to be in the Hall of Fame, just wait and see.

    Petralli: It was pretty evident when I got to see Pudge play he was pretty special. I learned to play other positions pretty quick. It was evident he was a talented young guy who had a grasp of the game.

    Sierra: I saw him when he was 19 years old come to big leagues and do all the stuff he could do. It was exciting. Between Julio Franco, Juan Gonzalez and I, we tried to help him. When we saw him in the big leagues and saw what he could do, we knew he was going to have a beautiful career. For me and for Puerto Rico and all the teammates that played with him, I say, "Thank God, I was part of his career. That I was there."

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  • Selig proud of hard-fought legacy

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- As birthday presents go, Bud Selig is getting one of the ultimate ones.

    "I said beforehand it was overwhelming," he said Saturday afternoon. "Once you get here, it's even more overwhelming."

    Indeed, overwhelming.

    Selig will celebrate his 83rd birthday Sunday by being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the ultimate honor for a baseball lifer and the appropriate punctuation mark for a half-century in the game.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. CT. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m. CT on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

    Selig set out to teach history, but when his beloved Braves left Milwaukee for Atlanta after the 1965 season, his quest was to bring Major League Baseball back to his hometown.

    "History hangs by a very thin thread," he said. "The thing I'll always be proudest of is bringing baseball back to Milwaukee."

    His pursuit of a team for Milwaukee began a career in baseball that would stretch from team ownership to 22 years as baseball's ninth Commissioner, during which he oversaw a transformation of the sport, highlighted by labor peace, economic reforms and competitive balance.

    On his watch, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (BAM), which revolutionized how fans enjoyed the sport, was born, in addition to MLB Network, Wild Card berths, Interleague Play and a host of other innovations that resulted in attendance records and competitive balance.

    Now, back to that 83rd birthday celebration. On Saturday, he thought back to an earlier one.

    "The birthday I'll always remember is my mother took me to New York for my 15th birthday -- 1949," Selig said. "I'm finally in Yankee Stadium, 15 years old. Sitting in the upper deck. They roll out a birthday cake [on the field], and I say to my mother, 'You've embarrassed me.'

    "I'm 15 years old. I think the world revolves around me. Why would I think differently? Guess what? It was Casey Stengel's birthday."

    Video: Bud Selig on starting in baseball, getting to HOF

    As Commissioner, he was on the stage for 22 induction ceremonies. On Sunday, he will be getting a plaque of his own from his successor, Rob Manfred.

    "Last night at the party, the Hall of Famers were walking by," he said. "Oh my God, there's Jim Rice, there's George Brett, there's Robin Yount. I'm grateful. This is quite an experience.

    "Every Hall of Famer was very warm. I know a lot of them extremely well. The first thing they said was, 'We're proud you're now part of the family.' I heard that over and over. In a great sense, I feel like I'm home."

    Video: CHC@MIL: Brewers broadcast on Selig's HOF induction

    As for his legacy, Selig is comfortable with it.

    "I don't really have any regrets," he said. "We got pretty much done everything we set out to get done. When I think of what BAM is today, MLB Network, the growth in revenue, labor peace ...

    "In the '90s, I took a lot of tough hits for things that have turned out pretty well. Now everybody likes 'em. I feel very comfortable about that.

    "But the economic reformation of the game while I was Commissioner is overwhelming. There are owners like [Kansas City's] David Glass, who have said, 'If you hadn't done what you did in the '90s, we'd probably be out of business.'

    "Don't misunderstand me. There were things that happened that I didn't like. There were things that were uncomfortable."

    Among them: performance-enhancing drugs.

    "The steroid thing, I'll be candid about that. This is a sport that had never had a drug-testing program. This is a sport that went through the cocaine era of the '80s and couldn't get a drug-testing program.

    "To say that baseball turned a blind eye or was slow to react is just not true. It's a historical myth. This was a collectively bargained item. This was not something the Commissioner could do. Remember: I put in a Minor League testing program.

    "Today, we have the toughest testing program in American sports and maybe in all of American business. I'm proud of what we've done. But it didn't come easy."

    Video: Rachel Robinson looks back on O'Neil Award honor

    Selig is also blunt in discussing the 1994 player strike that resulted in cancellation of the World Series. He believes that baseball may not have reached the heights it has reached today without the pain of that last work stoppage.

    "It was painful," Selig said. "I don't want to minimize that. It broke my heart. But it was a deeper problem. This was the eighth work stoppage we'd had. This was not a shocker. Things were troubling. The system was bad.

    "You already had disparity settling in. That was a word we didn't use 10 years earlier. If you love history like I do, you say to yourself, here it is 23 years later. Maybe we almost had to go through that to get to where we are today. A lot of baseball people have said that to me.

    "I think people learned something. I think we all understood we couldn't go on like that. Maybe that horribly painful, heartbreaking experience was worth it."

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  • Pioneering writer Smith receives Spink Award

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- When you're the first to accomplish something notable, it comes with labels. "Pioneer" is often used, as is "trailblazer."

    As an African-American woman who established herself as one of the most respected baseball writers over a 35-year career, Claire Smith realizes she is distinctly tied to those two concepts.

    She was the first woman to cover Major League Baseball as a full-time beat writer, and she did so during an era when female sportswriters were still an enigma -- and often not welcomed by male counterparts.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    She is also the first female recipient of the prestigious J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, which she gratefully accepted during Saturday's annual Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

    "Like a pebble tossed into a pond, the honor of being named the 2017 Spink Award winner sent out the most beautiful ripples, which are now washing up on the shores of Lake Otsego, magically carrying my family and me to the most memorable moment of my career," Smith said.

    Being a trailblazer may humble Smith, but it doesn't define her. Her abilities -- superb writing, informative, thorough and thoughtful reporting -- more aptly shape her legacy.

    Video: Claire Smith honored with J.G. Spink Award

    Smith started her baseball writing career in 1983, spending five years at the Hartford Courant covering the Yankees. She then became a columnist with the New York Times from 1991-98 and an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007.

    Now a coordinating news editor for ESPN's universal news group, Smith delivered her acceptance speech as a love letter to her grown son, Joshua, and as a tribute to her late parents, who encouraged her to aim high when she revealed to them as a young woman that she wanted to be a baseball writer.

    Video: Claire Smith discusses her career as a sportswriter

    "Throughout my career, all I wanted was to go to work, do my best to get it right, then look in the mirror and ask, "Mom, Dad, did I do you proud?'" Smith said to her son. "I wanted to be able to look you in the eye, Josh, and ask the same.

    "Then Mr. Spink's Award came along."

    Joshua was one of many prominent figures in Smith's life to attend the ceremony. Steve Garvey, to whom Smith will forever be linked. was there as well.

    Garvey's kindness to Smith after a 1984 postseason game between the Cubs and Padres at Wrigley Field will stay with her forever. Smith, on deadline covering the playoffs for the Courant, was shoved out of the clubhouse by three Padres players, and, eventually, the clubhouse manager.

    Standing outside the door and needing quotes, Smith implored a fellow writer to ask Garvey to come out to talk to her. Garvey soon appeared, and Smith, exhausted and panicked with a deadline, started to break down.

    Video: Claire Smith discusses women in sportswriting

    "When he saw that I was becoming emotional after having been manhandled, he uttered the most important words an athlete ever said to me," Smith said. "'I will stay here as long as you need me to, but remember, you have a job to do.'"

    At this point in the speech, Smith asked Garvey to stand to be recognized by the Doubleday Field crowd: "Please stand, just as you did when salvaging the worst day of my career."

    It turned out to be one of the few bad days Smith had as a baseball writer. For every mean-spirited ballplayer, there seemed to be 20 who would rush to her defense.

    Don Mattingly did it when he thought a teammate had thrown a sanitary sock in her direction on purpose after a Yankees game in the late '80s, screaming at the room, "Not on my team!"

    Goose Gossage, upon hearing what the Padres did to her after that 1984 postseason game, was all but ready to slug the offending players.

    And on and on. In her speech, Smith named at least two dozen players she used to cover. She addressed all of them with appreciation for their respect for her and for treating her accordingly.

    Video: Claire Smith on Jackie Robinson's impact on her

    Not as a "female reporter," as was usually the reference.

    Just, reporter.

    After the Padres clubhouse incident, the Yankees, whom she covered on her regular beat, sent a formal protest to the Padres over how they treated her. She said to the public relations director, "Why did you do that? [Commissioner] Peter Ueberroth took care of it.' And he said, 'Nobody treats a Yankees beat writer that way.'

    "It was the first time I heard it without the qualifier," Smith said. "It took my breath away."

    Video: Claire Smith on adversity coming up in sports

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

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  • 'Holy Toledo' moment for voices of baseball

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Their names have been linked to Major League Baseball for decades. Their stories -- the written, the spoken and the legendary -- are weaved into the fabric of the sport.

    On Saturday at Doubleday Field, Claire Smith, Bill King and Rachel Robinson officially cemented their places in Hall of Fame history and baseball lore.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    King's stepdaughter Kathleen Lowenthal said it best, "I think this is a 'Holy Toledo!' moment. It is for me."

    Smith received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing" from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and King was posthumously honored as the Ford C. Frick Award winner for excellence in baseball broadcasting.

    • Pioneering writer Smith receives Spink Award

    Robinson, the widow of Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame second baseman Jackie Robinson and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, received the Buck O'Neil Award, which honors an individual "whose efforts broadened the game's appeal and whose character, integrity and dignity is comparable to the late O'Neil."

    • Robinson honored in Cooperstown

    The Hall of Fame Awards presentation also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on MLB Network.

    "Like the pebble in a pond, the honor of being the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner sent out the most beautiful ripples, which are now washing up on the shores of Lake Otsego, and they magically carried my family and me to the most memorable moment in my career," Smith said in the opening of her acceptance speech.

    Smith, who is the first female recipient of the Spink Award, was one of the first women to cover a Major League Baseball beat on a full-time basis. During her career, Smith covered the Yankees for the Hartford Courant starting in 1983 for five years and later worked as a baseball columnist for The New York Times from 1991-98 and The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She now works at ESPN as a news editor.

    Video: Claire Smith on adversity coming up in sports

    Patrick Saunders, president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, introduced Smith to the crowd. She was given a standing ovation when she stepped to the microphone.

    One of the Bay Area's iconic voices, King was the first to be honored Saturday. He began his career as a fill-in on Giants broadcasts and later did play-by-play for the Raiders and Warriors. He called the A's games for 25 years starting in 1981. His signature handlebar mustache, and his "Holy Toledo!" catchphrase were legendary. King died in 2005.

    Video: Lowenthal discusses King's love of broadcasting

    Hall of Famer Joe Morgan shared his memories of King and later introduced Lowenthal, who shared stories of her stepfather.

    "Bill never sought out any awards of any kind, but he was only human, and he certainly enjoyed the accolades," Lowenthal said. "But never in a million years did he believe that he would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When people would bring it up, he would brush it aside, and fans, friends and colleagues brought it up all of the time, even I did. Bill loved broadcasting. He just really loved talking to you."

    Video: DET@OAK: A's honor Bill King with 'Holy Toledo' sign

    The Robinsons' contributions to baseball are immeasurable. The couple created the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation to help build and manage housing for moderate and low-income citizens. She formed the Foundation in Jackie's honor to provide college scholarships and leadership training shortly after his death.

    Video: Rachel Robinson looks back on O'Neil Award honor

    "I'm honored to receive the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award," Robinson said. "Buck O'Neil was a staunch champion of baseball and worked to promote inclusiveness within the sport. I'm truly gratified to be associated with your recognition of Buck in this way. I'd like to acknowledge and congratulate Bill King and Claire Smith, and congratulate this year's Hall of Fame inductees, especially my longtime friend Bud Selig."

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  • Bagwell humbled by Hall of Fame weekend

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The lingering doubt he belongs in a place alongside the game's all-time greats is about to become a humbling reality for former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell.

    In the days and months leading up to today's enshrinement ceremony at the Clark Sports Center, Bagwell has struggled to wrap his mind around his place in history. He's awed by the numbers of Hank Aaron, admits he was intimidated by George Brett and Andre Dawson and finds it hard to believe others perhaps now view him in the same light.

    Bagwell will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame today, joining a club that includes Aaron, Brett, Dawson and more than 200 others, including longtime teammate Craig Biggio -- the only two players to go into the Hall of Fame representing the Astros.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "Obviously, it's an honor and I'm humbled by it, but it is a little bit overwhelming," Bagwell said Saturday. "That's why I hunker down in the hotel as much as I can. It is a wonderful experience. I'm overwhelmed by the support I've gotten from the city, my family and friends. It will be nice when it's over, but I'm going to try and take this all in."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Prior to today's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m. CT on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

    Video: Bagwell happy to make Houston proud with HOF honor

    Hundreds of orange-clad Astros fans and dozens of Bagwell's friends, former teammates and family members have descended upon Cooperstown this weekend to pay tribute to the man who still holds Houston's franchise records for homers (449) and RBIs (1,529). Bagwell spoke of the countless text messages he's received from former teammates, and even a phone call he got from Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, the former Red Sox slugger who was Bagwell's idol growing up.

    "That was pretty cool," Bagwell said. "Being a player I idolized growing up, for him to take the time to call me meant a lot."

    As much as this weekend is a celebration of Bagwell, he admits he's not comfortable talking about himself.

    "I don't even remember this much media attention during playoffs and stuff like that," Bagwell said. "To get to the magnitude of this individually is something I'm trying to take in. I talked to a lot of the Hall of Famers. They said just enjoy it. It goes real quick. It's really just overwhelming to see all the guys and meet everybody and see how friendly they are and welcoming all of us to the class. It's pretty cool."

    And when asked about facing baseball immortality, Bagwell chuckled.

    "If I make it to Monday morning when they put the plaque up, that will be there forever," Bagwell said. "That's pretty cool. It's something I never set out to do. It's just weird. It's just a crazy feeling being with all these guys you see on TV and played against and played with, like Craig -- just to be a part of that group is really humbling."

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  • Carew has new lease on life after transplants

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- What a difference a year makes.

    During last year's Baseball Hall of Fame weekend, the legendary Rod Carew was dealing with health scares, from needing heart and kidney transplants to an aching back.

    On Saturday at the Clark Sports Center, Carew, 71, sat on the podium as the ambassador for the American Heart Association, and he said he feels like a new man, thanks to the transplants he received last December.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "I feel great. My heart is roaring. I'm just happy to be here," Carew said. "It was a long journey, but a good journey. One of the things I relied on a lot was my friend [God] upstairs. I begged him. I cried to him. But I knew that he was with me. I thank him every day that I get up to let him know how much I appreciate him and that he gave me a second chance at life."

    Carew's mission on Saturday was to educate people on how to prevent heart attacks, after he suffered one while golfing alone in Corona, Calif., in 2015, After he flatlined three times from to the golf course to the hospital, Carew had to wear an LVAD -- left ventricular assist device -- in order to keep his heart pumping.

    Video: Rod Carew discusses his heart transplant

    Carew was able to get his heart and kidney transplants in January of this year from former NFL player Konrad Reuland, who died of a brain aneurysm at age 29. It was the first time a heart had been shared by professional athletes. Carew didn't know Reuland was the donor until after the procedures were done. Carew and wife, Rhonda, then formed "Heart of 29" in conjunction with the American Heart Association.

    Video: Rod Carew talks about his well wishers

    As it turned out, Carew met Reuland at a basketball game years ago. Reuland, who was 11 at the time, went to the same middle school with Carew's son and daughter.

    "It's almost like a miracle," Carew said. "I think God didn't want me yet. Now I have a young man's heart in me. … This was a complete surprise to my wife and I that he was my donor. Konrad Reuland is here with me today. I hope to be in the football Hall of Fame with him one day."

    Since getting the transplants, Carew has been able to fly to Minnesota and travel to the All-Star Game in Miami. He recently had a checkup and was informed that he was doing well.

    Video: Carew recalls suffering a heart attack

    'It just feels good to know that I can travel and can do all the things that I want to do now. It's been an unbelievable journey," Carew said. "I really hope that anyone that goes through something like this has a caretaker like my wife. My wife was my girlfriend, my lover, everything to me during that period."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a live stream of the Hall of Fame Awards ceremony on MLB.com on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. It will feature Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own." MLB Network will also televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday in advance of the induction.

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  • Bagwell's army joins him in Cooperstown

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- He's remembered by some as a young, talented kid who could probably help the Astros be good ... someday.

    He's also remembered as the greatest Astro, and a key piece of the best era in club history -- one who helped energize a fanbase and turn Houston into a legitimate baseball town.

    Which Jeff Bagwell was celebrated depended on who was talking. And that's what made the Astros' reception at the Cooper Inn in the heart of Cooperstown on Friday night so great. People who knew Bagwell as a fresh-faced kid in 1991 were there. So were two managers and a general manager who had him during the prime of his career.

    Start with former GM Bill Wood. He nabbed Bagwell from the Red Sox for Larry Andersen in 1990 -- a now infamous transaction -- and converted Bagwell from third base to first base the following Spring Training.

    "I wasn't thinking I'm getting a Hall of Famer," Wood said. "We thought we were getting a prospect, somebody that we think is going to play every day."

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Wood was right about that. Bagwell, the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year, played in 156 games that season. He played at least 140 games in 12 of 14 seasons before his final year in 2005.

    The GM who benefited most from Bagwell's prime years was also at the reception -- Gerry Hunsicker, who guided the Astros to six playoff appearances during his tenure from 1995-2004.

    "Kind of like a proud papa," Hunsicker said, asked how he was feeling about Bagwell entering the Hall of Fame. "I think back over his career, so many things come to mind. First and foremost, he was really the main offensive engine that we had for a long period of time. We had virtually no protection in the lineup. so he didn't get pitched to very well."

    Plus, Hunsicker pointed out, Bagwell played in the Astrodome -- "Death Valley for sluggers."

    "Yet, he put up unbelievable numbers," Hunsicker continued. "In addition to that, he was the complete player. He wasn't just a slugger. He was a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman. He saved Ricky Gutierrez and the boys a lot of errors over the years, trust me."

    Video: Justice, Footer preview HOF induction weekend

    Two of Bagwell's former managers are also in Cooperstown to celebrate the former first baseman. Larry Dierker, who managed four playoff teams during his five years as skipper from 1997-2001, laughed and said when it came to Bagwell and fellow Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, he was mostly a spectator to two players who needed very little instruction or discipline.

    "I didn't manage them. I watched them," Dierker said.

    Video: Larry Dierker looks back on Bagwell's career

    Phil Garner, the only manager in Astros history to guide a Houston team to a World Series, had similar experiences during his time with Bagwell, at the end of Bagwell's career.

    "The great players, you just put them in the lineup and let them play," Garner said. "They know what they're doing. They were fun to watch. They were fun to watch in the dugout, fun to watch in the seats, too. They just weren't fun to manage against, from the other dugout."

    Video: Garner reflects on Bagwell's impact on team

    In addition to managers and executives, several more notable Astros figures traveled to Cooperstown to watch Bagwell's induction today. Longtime coach Matt Galante, who has been battling leukemia, made the trip to celebrate his former protege. Retired announcer Bill Brown, who called every one of Bagwell's 15 seasons, is here, too, as are Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, Astros fan favorite Jose Cruz and former teammate Moises Alou, one of Bagwell's closest friends in the game.

    Video: Ryan talks about Bagwell being a complete player

    Biggio, Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller will also attend the ceremony.

    Alou, who traveled from a vacation in Turkey in '15 to watch Biggio's induction, this time came from a Spain jaunt with his wife, Austria, to see his friend accept baseball's highest honor.

    Alou played with Bagwell and Biggio during the team's successful era in the late 1990s and through 2001.

    "They love the game; they respect the game," said Alou. "They really were serious about it. Sometimes, if they felt if you weren't on the same page, they got on you. Everybody respected them a lot."

    Video: Alou looks back on former teammate Bagwell

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Prior to today's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m. CT on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

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  • Ozzie hosts Play Ball event on HOF Weekend

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Fans from all over are pouring into Cooperstown to celebrate Hall of Fame Weekend, but a handful got there before the masses. That's because Friday morning marked the annual PLAY BALL event, where several dozen baseball fans enjoyed an up-close-and-personal clinic with four Hall of Fame players and one Hall of Fame executive, all in the name of fundraising.

    For the 16th year in a row, Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who serves as the Education Ambassador for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, welcomed guests during a fun-filled morning that gave fans a unique chance to experience on-field moments and stories with Hall of Famers.

    Proceeds benefitted the Hall's educational mission and internship programs.

    "What we try to do is keep fans engaged and give them the opportunity to spend time with their favorite players and raise money for the education fund," Smith said. "That's what it's about -- raising money for the educational part of the Hall of Fame."

    Joining Smith were four legends of the game: Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, D-backs pitcher Randy Johnson and Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins, along with former executive Pat Gillick, who was honored by the Hall in 2011.

    The former players were placed at stations around a diamond near the Clark Sports Center and offered up instruction and insight to groups of participants that included both kids and adults.

    "It's great to do something like this and be around the Hall of Famers," Sandberg said. "Ozzie does a great job for the Hall of Fame, and I'm just happy to join up on the same team and do it for a good cause. It's very cool."

    Each Hall of Famer wore the uniform that he donned as an active player. Johnson, still looking lean and athletic in his D-backs uniform, noted how much more enjoyable it is to attend Hall of Fame Weekend as a past inductee, instead of having the spotlight on him as it was two years ago when he was inducted.

    "I played 22 years, so my generation and even people before me, we're seeing them getting inducted," he said. "And now I'm a part of it and it's kind of fun to come back now. Much more relaxing now, let's put it that way."

    Jenkins, who retired in 1983 and was inducted into the Hall in 1991, embraced the opportunity to wear his Cubs uniform again for this event.

    "A lot of these young kids never saw me play," Jenkins chuckled. "I told them I was a pitcher. They thought I was an outfielder. It's interesting that they've had this [fundraiser] for quite a few years. Ozzie was one of the instigators. It's a fun situation. And it's fun for the kids."

    Since hosting the event annually beginning in 2002, Smith has helped raise more than $175,000, including nearly 25,000 on Friday, for the Museum's educational outreach programs and the Ozzie Smith Diversity Scholarships, presented annually to members of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development.

    "It's a continuation of what I was doing when I was playing," Smith said. "It gives me a bigger venue to do it on. I enjoy it, and I think the fans enjoy it as well."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

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  • Selig's love of baseball set path to Hall

    In 1990, Bud Selig, then the majority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, traveled to New York to represent his fellow owners on "Meet the Press" amid a league-wide lockout. There to meet him was longtime Major League Baseball public-relations director Rich Levin. As a representative of Selig's boss, then-Commissioner Fay Vincent, Levin accompanied Selig on set.

    "Well?" Selig asked Levin after his appearance. "How'd I do?"

    "Really good," said Levin. "I'd give you a B-plus."

    "B-plus?" Selig said with mock incredulity. "I've never had less than an A in my life."

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Levin would come to know that sense of humor quite well.

    In just two years, Selig would become the acting Commissioner -- and Levin's boss -- after Vincent's resignation.

    Selig and Levin worked together for the next 19 years, until Levin's retirement in 2011.

    And let's just put it this way: Selig never got anything less than an A from Levin again.

    Justice: Selig proud of hard-fought legacy

    That proclivity for perfection was thanks to Selig's mother Marie, a schoolteacher, from whom he'd inherited a devotion to academics and baseball.

    And as it turned out, both mother and son landed in the perfect profession for them, as Selig will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., today.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. CT. Prior to today's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m. CT on MLB Network. It features Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

    "My father is very fortunate that his vocation and avocation are one and the same," Bud Selig's daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, said. "There is no question that my father eats, lives, sleeps, breathes baseball."

    Video: Uecker and Attanasio discuss Selig's HOF induction

    Baseball, Selig-Prieb said, and not much else. Selig is notorious for keeping his lifestyle simple. His days begin with a banana for breakfast, followed by a 55-minute stint on a stationary exercise bike in his basement. That habit is especially important to Selig, who's even gone so far as to have stationary bikes installed in his hotel rooms when the job took him outside of Milwaukee. He'll proudly recite his record riding streak (3,062 days, or well over eight years, which came to an unfortunate end when Selig suffered a stress fracture in his foot) and his current number (163).

    After putting in his workout and a morning's work, Selig stops at Gilles Frozen Custard about two miles west of Miller Park for a hot dog (with a liberal dose of ketchup) and a Diet Coke. Every afternoon, he visits the car dealership he owns -- delivering corned beef sandwiches to the sales department on Saturdays -- and he reports to Tony Lococo's Hair World each Friday afternoon to have his hair cut.

    "My father is a creature of habit to the nth degree. Tell me the day and time of day, and I can tell you exactly where he is," Selig-Prieb said. "He doesn't want to figure out where to go to lunch, what to eat. He'll just get his hot dog and Diet Coke, thank you.

    "That works for him. He keeps his life pretty simple, because the stuff he is dealing with isn't simple."

    Michael Bauman, a longtime baseball writer who covered Selig at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and for MLB.com, first knew Selig as the buoyant young Brewers owner who'd brought a franchise to town as a show of love for the sport and the city.

    Every day, Bauman said, Selig would venture into the press box to chat up the local writers and even the visiting scribes, all of whom he knew by name.

    "No other owners did this," Bauman said. "He came on as a human being, as opposed to some potentate. He was more like the guy next door, like the guy sitting in the seat next to you."

    Video: Bud Selig brought baseball back to Milwaukee

    Selig did something else that was uncommon at the time: talk to reporters about what they wrote about his club.

    "Bud was the type of person that if he disagreed with something [you wrote]," Bauman said, "he would call up and have a lively discussion with you about it. There were no grudges held, and I appreciated that about him."

    Grudges, no, but Bauman and his colleagues knew Selig's penchant for intensity well. Selig's pacing up and down County Stadium's loge level during tight Brewers games, Bauman said, was "a matter of public record." And Lori Keck, Selig's assistant of nearly 40 years, admits to hearing a few slammed doors and choice words coming from the corner office.

    What Keck, who served as an assistant to legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi before joining Selig's office, remembers more is her boss' capacity for empathy.

    Keck hasn't forgotten the day in 1989 when Selig's predecessor and mentor, former Commissioner Bart Giamatti, died at age 51 of a heart attack.

    Selig, she said, simply closed his office door and sobbed.

    "I don't think I had ever heard a man cry like that," Keck said.

    Keck remembers another time marked by tears -- Oct. 20, 1982, hours after Selig's Brewers lost Game 7 of the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, having surrendered a 3-2 series lead.

    This time, though, Selig was the one doing the comforting.

    "We were all so sure we were going to win," Keck said. "Everybody on that plane was crying, including the players. He just went around to every person to make sure that they were OK, he comforted them.

    "This was his goal, his entire lifetime, to win a World Series. And we had just lost it. Instead of him huddled in a corner, he was going around making sure everyone else was OK. That's what he did with everything."

    Video: Selig visits Cooperstown prior to induction

    These days, Selig co-teaches a course titled "Baseball in American Society Since World War II" at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his alma mater. He's pretty good at that, too -- history professor David McDonald said students regularly write in course evaluations that Selig's is the best class they've ever taken.

    The course is an upper-level seminar that meets for two hours every Tuesday to discuss topics ranging from franchise expansion and movement to race in baseball, media coverage and performance-enhancing drugs.

    It's fitting that Selig's professorial specialty is the societal nature of the sport, since he's well-known for his philosophy that baseball is a social institution. And he, more than any before him, willed baseball to live up to that philosophy.

    Under his stewardship, Major League Baseball began administering the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of America and started the "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" program. The league retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 in 1997, launched MLB Advanced Media (MLB.com) in 2000 and was one of the founding funders of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) in '08.

    And it was Selig who led the national pastime through one of the worst days in the nation's history: Sept. 11, 2001. And it was Selig who watched from a Yankee Stadium box as, less than two months after the Twin Towers fell, President George W. Bush delivered a ceremonial first pitch -- a strike -- before Game 3 of the World Series as the fans chanted "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A."

    Outreach. Inclusion. Reverence. Charity. Patriotism.

    Bauman explained Selig's view this way.

    Video: Bud Selig talks about being among baseball's greats

    "Anyone running a team or a league, or the whole game, was basically a custodian to the game," Bauman said. "It wasn't your game. You had an obligation not only to the current people but to generations to come, to preserve and maintain and protect it. And I think that Bud always kept that in mind.

    "I think Bud was successful in doing what he set out to do. Nobody's perfect. There are going to be drawbacks with every administration in baseball, and in life. But Bud had an idea of what he wanted to achieve, and what he wanted to achieve was essentially good for the game. And he succeeded at that. Unbalanced, as objectively as possible, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

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  • Raines-Dawson bond now connects to HOF

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Andre Dawson and Tim Raines have been best friends since 1981, when they were playing with the Expos.

    The two will have more in common today, when Raines will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Dawson, who was enshrined in 2010.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Dawson told Raines to have a speech prepared. But Raines wanted to speak from the heart. Dawson warned his best friend that he doesn't want to mess up on one of the biggest days of his life. A mutual friend told Dawson recently that Raines is finally preparing a speech.

    "It's going to be different once you step up to that podium, and see your people out there. Your emotions are going to change," Dawson said. "[I told him], 'You only do this once in your lifetime. It's your stage. It's your 20 minutes, and you want to make the most of it. Make it the best 20 minutes of your life. I hope he is funny. I hope he doesn't get emotional. If he gets emotional, it might hit me somewhere I least expect it."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. MLB Network will also televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation today at 11 a.m. ET in advance of the induction.

    Raines said he would not be a Hall of Famer without Dawson, whom Raines called his big brother and a father figure. The two played together in Montreal for eight seasons.

    Raines named his second son after Dawson, who was also asked to be the godfather. And how wild is this? Dawson and Andre Raines share the same birthday -- July 10.

    Video: Dawson discusses teammate Raines' HOF induction

    "He had a number of friends from his neighborhood and teammates he knew from the game, but for whatever reason, he approached me about being the godfather," Dawson said. "You don't say no to that."

    Early in Raines' career, it looked like it would go downhill before it started. He started having a substance abuse problem after his first full year in the big leagues in 1981. Dawson, one of the game's best players at the time, noticed something was wrong when Raines said to Dawson, "I want to be like you." It took Dawson by surprise. He was wondering what Raines was trying to tell him.

    After figuring out what the problem was, Dawson told Raines that he had to learn from his mistakes and move forward. Dawson said Raines was man enough to confront his problems and seek help. From that point on, Dawson looked after Raines and formed a friendship.

    "The impact that he had on me was tremendous," Raines said. "He was a silent leader. He led by example. He is one of the few guys I know that is in the Hall of Fame. … He was a big influence. I owe a lot to him for being a friend, teammate and a positive influence on the way I played the game."

    The friendship between Raines and Dawson wasn't one sided. According to Dawson, Raines made him a better person in the clubhouse, and on the field. Dawson was known as a person who kept to himself and took the game seriously. Most of his teammates didn't want to approach him for that reason. But Raines, the comedian on the team, always took a jab at Dawson, who couldn't help but laugh.

    "He wouldn't let you get down or distracted," Dawson said. "For me, it was like the perfect storm, because it allowed me to not be so serious at the ballpark. He had his way of approaching me and get things out of me. He allowed me to relax at the ballpark."

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  • In hallowed Hall, Pudge will join select group

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- What was it? Fifteen, 20 years ago? The Rangers were training in Port Charlotte, Fla., and they had played a game that afternoon. Now, it was six in the evening and all of the Rangers' players had gone home.

    Except … Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. He and his personal trainer were spotted jogging out behind the complex amid the banyan trees and alligator ponds. His day was not over.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "If you want to be the best, that's what you have to do," Rodriguez said.

    Now Pudge is 45, and he still looks like he could catch nine innings. But that's not what he's going to do on a cool Friday morning in upstate New York. He is playing 18 holes at the Hall of Fame Golf Tournament.

    On Sunday, Rodriguez will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Once Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Rodriguez are inducted, there will be 225 players enshrined.

    Only 16 of them were catchers.

    "It means a lot; we should get more recognition than we do," Rodriguez said. "It's not an easy job, playing over 100-plus games behind the plate. Not only that, we have to come to the ballpark early, study the game. … It's a hard job, and I was able to do that for 21 years."

    For all of Rodriguez's accomplishments -- the Gold Glove Awards, the All-Star Game selections -- most impressive may be how strong and durable he was for more than two decades behind the plate.

    Video: MLB Central: Pudge thrilled to enter Hall of Fame

    Rodriguez had his share of injuries, and he still has the herniated disk that sidelined him for two months in 2002. But he is the all-time leader in games caught, and his 2,543 games played are 32nd among the 225 Hall of Famers.

    "Physically, I am great," Rodriguez said. "Thank God I am good. I think it's all the work I put in during my career. I have great people with me. Trainers that began with me since I was 21 years old who started that program that I am still doing today. I know if I stop, it's not going to be fun. That's why I keep working out and do the things that I do to keep myself in shape."

    Rodriguez played for the Rangers from 1991-2002, but Texas let him go because the club thought he was done physically as a catcher. The Marlins gave Rodriguez a one-year deal, and he helped them win a World Series in 2003. The Tigers then signed him to a five-year deal.

    "When I signed with Detroit, the doctor said to [general manager Dave] Dombrowski that he was not going to clear that contract because of the back," Rodriguez said. "My back wasn't right to play five years.

    "Dave Dombrowski came to me and [agent Scott] Boras and said, 'Let's keep the five-year contract, but let's do this. Let's say two years, and the next three years will be an extension.' I said to Boras, 'Don't worry about it. If he wants that, fine. I can promise him I am going to play five. I'm going to play more.' After the doctor said that, I played [eight] more years. The doctor was wrong."

    Video: Justice, Footer preview HOF induction weekend

    There is the suspicion that Rodriguez had help. He was connected to performance-enhancing drugs, mainly because of the allegations in Jose Canseco's autobiography.

    Rodriguez is not afraid of the question.

    "Never took it," Rodriguez said. "Never. I always say, my discipline is very important. Since Day 1. When you are strong physically and mentally and go out and play hard. That's what I say and I still say it, my conditioning was always there, every time."

    Rodriguez was asked if he ever had a concussion.

    "What? What?" Rodriguez said.

    He was joking.

    "Not really," Rodriguez said. "I probably can say I'm lucky because I got hit a lot, especially when we played in that era, everybody coming to try and destroy the catcher. I was very smart making those plays. I worked on decoying to make sure the runner knows that the ball is not coming. I did that my whole career.

    "A lot of times on plays at the plate, they slid through me, because I never let them know the ball was coming. I just moved at the last second and tagged them like an infielder."

    Rodriguez said he has never had the back surgery recommended 15 years ago.

    Video: AL@NL: Pudge hits a three-run home run for the AL

    "They wanted me to do it, but I said no," Rodriguez said. "I told them, 'Give me a program to do with exercises and I'll do that, I'm fine.' I'm still doing it. Basically, that's what I did, I worked my legs and worked my back, and today I'm hitting the ball 300 yards in golf."

    Rodriguez was playing with Hall of Famers on Friday in Cooperstown. On Sunday, he will join them in the Hall of Fame.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a live stream of the Hall of Fame Awards ceremony on MLB.com on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. It will feature Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own." MLB Network will also televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday in advance of the induction.

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  • Schuerholz's greatest day: signing Pendleton

    When John Schuerholz left Kansas City to take the general manager's job in Atlanta in October 1990, it seemed for all the world like he had entered a dead end. The Braves had just lost 97 games for the second consecutive season. The year before that, they had lost 106.

    This was around the time when the Atlanta Constitution newspaper had put out a call to fans for a slogan to sell tickets, and the winning one if memory serves was: "Atlanta Braves baseball, better than getting hit in the head with a hammer unless it's a doubleheader."

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    What wasn't immediately apparent was that the Braves had already accumulated a startling amount of young talent. The 1990 Braves featured three young pitchers (Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery), two who would pitch their way into the Hall of Fame. Future All-Stars Ron Gant, David Justice, Jeff Blauser and Ryan Klesko were already on the team or in the Minor League system, as was their first pick of the '90 Draft, a pretty decent player named Chipper Jones.

    "We had good players," Braves scouting director Paul Snyder would say again and again to a young Atlanta scout, Dayton Moore. "But John showed us how to win."

    It's funny. When you look over Schuerholz's Hall of Fame career, you don't really find one spectacular trade -- his best was probably when he dealt for Fred McGriff in 1993, but it's a spotty record that does include him moving David Cone and Adam Wainwright. His Draft record is also uneven, with a few great picks (like Bret Saberhagen in the 19th round and Bo Jackson in the fourth) and a few misses like Mike Kelly with the second pick in '91. Schuerholz's free-agent signings include a few big wins and a few big losses.

    But Schuerholz's teams won, they always won, and that onetime Braves scout Moore, who is now general manager of the Royals, believes it comes down to something bigger than trades and signings.

    "I think the word for John is 'integrity,'" Moore says. "That is what made him successful, I think. He shows integrity in everything he does -- integrity in the way he carries himself, integrity in the way he deals with people, integrity for the game. You always know where John stands. You always know that he's behind you. You always know that he will do what's best for the team, and if it doesn't work, he will be there to take the blame for it. I think that's how you build a winning organization."

    Video: Dayton Moore on learning from John Schuerholz

    On Dec. 4, 1990 -- less than two months after Schuerholz took over as Atlanta's GM -- he made his first big move, signing former Cardinal Terry Pendleton for what was, at the time, the biggest contract the Braves had ever given a third baseman (four years, $10 million). It was barely noticed nationally at the time -- it was probably the third- or fourth-biggest signing that day. It was noticed in Atlanta. Pendleton was coming off a spectacularly bad offensive year, hitting .230/.277/.324 for a struggling St. Louis team that seemingly couldn't wait to be rid of him.

    "Rare is the player who hits .230, then is rewarded with a 10-mil contract," columnist Furman Bisher wrote in the Atlanta Constitution. "It's a high price for being able to catch and throw a baseball, and even then, Terry Pendleton made 19 errors at third base in St. Louis."

    But Schuerholz trusted his scouts, who told him that Pendleton had been hurt in 1989 and was finally healthy. Schuerholz trusted his instincts about Pendleton as a hard-working player with leadership skills who (despite Bisher's crack about errors) played great defense. And perhaps more than anything, Schuerholz followed the competitive drive that compelled him throughout his career. He knew the Braves were loaded with young talent, but he believed deeply that he needed to move fast to alter the big league club.

    In the next few days, Schuerholz signed Sid Bream and Rafael Belliard, and before the season began, he traded for Otis Nixon.

    Video: 1991 WS Gm4: Pendleton jacks a solo shot in the third

    "When I took over in Kansas City," Moore says, "John gave me a lot of advice, but the thing I remember most is him saying: 'I have no doubt you will build a great farm system. But that's not enough. You have to work on the big league club. That's what fans care about. They won't relate to the farm system. You have to build a team that can win.'"

    Pendleton came to Atlanta and became a star, winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1991, as the Braves went from worst to first and lost to the Twins in a seven-game World Series. It's hard to pick one greatest day in the remarkable career of Schuerholz, whose teams won 17 division titles, six pennants and two World Series. But that day he signed Pendleton (the Yankees, apparently, were making a big push, too) was special because Schuerholz followed his intuition and kick-started a dynasty.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a live stream of the Hall of Fame Awards ceremony on MLB.com on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. It will feature Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own." MLB Network will also televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday in advance of the induction.

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  • Ryan happy to be on hand for Bagwell, Pudge

    PHILADELPHIA -- It takes a special circumstance for Nolan Ryan to attend a National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and Sunday certainly qualifies. Ryan will travel to Cooperstown, N.Y., on Friday to watch his former Rangers teammate Ivan Rodriguez and Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell get inducted on Sunday.

    Ryan left the Astros for the Rangers in 1989 at 42 years old, and he played his final five seasons in Arlington, where he helped break in a young catcher with a cannon arm in Rodriguez. Ryan watched Bagwell's entire career with the Astros, the team with which Ryan spent nine of his 27 playing years and with which he now works in the front office in an advisory role.

    Bagwell and Rodriguez will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday -- and you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 10 a.m. CT.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "I want to be there and be supportive of them," said Ryan, who was inducted in 1998 and last attended the enshrinement ceremony in 2015 for Craig Biggio. "The fact I kind of had a front-row seat for both of them will make it even more enjoyable and more of a reason to be there."

    Rodriguez broke into the big leagues in 1991, at age 19, and he was behind the plate for Ryan for 46 games, the sixth most of any backstop that worked with Ryan. Rodriguez wound up catching more games than any of player in Major League history -- a record he set while playing for the Astros in Arlington against the Rangers in 2009 -- and earned a record 13 Gold Glove Awards.

    Video: Pudge looks back at getting the call to the HOF

    "He was 19 years old when he came up, and if you would told have me he's a future Hall of Famer, I would have said, 'Well, I don't know about that,'" Ryan said. "I remember seeing Robin Yount and George Brett as rookies, and it never crossed my mind at that point in time in their career. Whether it's Jeff or Pudge, when you first see them and observe them, it doesn't cross your mind like it does when you see somebody like Cesar Cedeno or somebody that's really gifted like George Springer."

    Rodriguez's second career game came in a Ryan start on June 21, 1991, against the White Sox in Chicago. Ryan struck out five batters in five innings and took a no-decision that day. Hall of Famers Frank Thomas and Carlton Fisk played for the White Sox in that game.

    Ryan had a great appreciation for the way Bagwell played the game. The 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner and '94 NL Most Valuable Player Award winner, Bagwell hit .297 with 2,314 hits, 449 homers, 1,529 RBIs, 1,517 runs scored and a .408 on-base percentage in 15 seasons with Houston (1991-2005).

    Video: Justice, Footer preview HOF induction weekend

    "He dedicated himself to be the best player he could possibly be," Ryan said. "You never knew if he was in a real hot streak or in a slump by the way he approached his job."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

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  • Fans' guide to Hall of Fame weekend activities

    One of the best weekends of the calendar year is here. That little village in upstate New York will be inundated with eager baseball fans looking to celebrate the greatest contributors in baseball history.

    Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, hosted by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, is on most baseball fans' bucket lists. Those who make the trek to Cooperstown, N.Y., for this special weekend will leave with a lifetime of memories. Whether you're watching up close or from far away, it's fun to follow along during induction weekend. In a nutshell, here is what to expect:

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Who's being inducted?

    Sunday's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which will be broadcast exclusively on MLB Network and stream live on MLB.com at 1:30 p.m. ET following a special noon edition of MLB Tonight, will honor the following five people:

    First baseman Jeff Bagwell, who over 15 seasons with the Astros compiled a .297 batting average and set Houston club records with 449 home runs and 1,529 RBIs -- 49th all-time and just eight behind Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio.

    Video: Bagwell spends day at HOF, views plaque location

    Catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, owner of 14 All-Star Game selections and 13 Gold Glove Awards -- a record for any catcher in history. Rodriguez spent most of his career with the Rangers but also won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003 and a pennant with the Detroit Tigers in 2006. He is the fourth native Puerto Rican in the Hall after Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar.

    Video: Ivan Rodriguez excited for 2017 Hall of Fame weekend

    Outfielder Tim Raines, whose induction is special for fans of the Montreal Expos, as he could be the last player from the organization to enter the Hall. During a 23-year career, Raines recorded 2,605 hits, 980 RBIs and a .294 batting average. His 808 stolen bases rank fifth all-time.

    Video: Raines discusses his upcoming Hall of Fame induction

    Commissioner Emeritus Allan H. "Bud" Selig, who during his tenure from 1992-2015 oversaw expansion in 1993 and 1998, the addition of two Wild Card teams, the creation of Interleague Play, MLB.com, the World Baseball Classic and the introduction of instant replay as a tool for umpires. He also enjoyed two decades of labor peace following the strike of 1994.

    Video: Bud Selig on starting in baseball, getting to HOF

    John Schuerholz, who built powerhouses in Kansas City and Atlanta during his tenure as a top executive with each club. He oversaw the retooling of a Royals team in the early 1980s that won a World Series in 1985, and he guided a Braves organization to one of the most dominant eras in baseball history, during which it won 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005 and a World Series title in 1995.

    Video: MIL@ATL: Schuerholz discusses induction into HOF

    Who else is being honored?

    The Hall of Fame will hold a one-hour awards presentation on Saturday at Doubleday Field beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET. The program will feature three presentations:

    • The J.G. Taylor Spink Award will be presented to veteran columnist and pioneer Claire Smith for her contributions to baseball writing. She is the first woman to win the Spink Award.

    • The Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence will be presented posthumously to beloved Bay Area announcer Bill King, who called Oakland Athletics games for more than a quarter-century.

    • The Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Rachel Robinson, who for decades has carried out the legacy of her husband, Jackie, with tireless work including establishing foundations to help low-income people and educate young people through scholarship programs.

    How can I watch it all?

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight at noon ET Sunday, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

    Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Robinson, Smith and King. The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    Saturday's Awards Presentation will also be available live on MLB.com and the Hall of Fame's Facebook page at 4:30 p.m. And the Hall of Fame Legends Parade will stream live on MLB.com, as well as on both Hall of Fame and MLB Facebook pages, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday.

     

    What else is planned for the weekend?

    An action-packed three-day weekend begins early Friday morning, when Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, the Education Ambassador for the Hall of Fame, joins fellow Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Randy Johnson and Ryne Sandberg for a special "Play Ball" fundraising event. Participants will receive instruction from the Hall of Famers during the two-hour private event at a Cooperstown-area field.

    Saturday's activities will begin at the Leatherstocking Golf Course, where the Hall of Famers will gather for a private round of golf. A few hours later, the Hall of Fame Class of 2017 will appear at the Clark Sports Center for a mass media session, and once the formal questions and answers are out of the way, the real fun begins.

    One of the best events of induction weekend is the Hall of Fame Legends Parade, which will be held Saturday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET. The parade will begin on Chestnut Street and proceed down Main Street before concluding at the Hall of Fame.

    The best part about the parade? There are no bad seats. The second-best part? The Hall of Famers love this event and really play up to the crowd. Don't be surprised to see a few of them hop off their parade vehicles and jump into the fray to offer up some high-fives to fans lining the streets.

    While soaking in the action-packed weekend, don't forget to stop into the centerpiece of the village in Cooperstown -- the Hall of Fame! In addition to the fabulous display of the most important and interesting elements of the game's history, there is also a new 2017 Inductees Exhibit, which will remain on display through next May. Among the highlights:

    • Bagwell's 1994 National League Most Valuable Player Award;

    • An Expos jersey worn by Raines during his rookie season of 1981 when he stole 71 bases in 88 games;

    • A bat used by Rodríguez during the 2003 World Series with the Marlins;

    • Personal World Series trophies from the 1985 Royals and 1995 Braves given to Schuerholz; 

    • A pitching rubber from the first Interleague game on June 12, 1997, highlighting Selig's work to bring Interleague Play to Major League Baseball.

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  • Recognizing Raines' most memorable games

    Tim Raines really had two careers. And so when you try to pick out his greatest day, you really need two days, one to represent each side of his baseball life.

    There was the young Tim Raines, the Montreal Expos' Tim Raines, when he could do pretty much anything. From 1981-90, Raines hit .302, walked 209 more times than he struck out, led the league in stolen bases four times, in runs twice, in doubles once, and he probably should have won a Most Valuable Player Award or two.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Raines was a rare talent, mixing power and speed like few ever did. But there were two things going against him. One was that the rarest talent of them all, Rickey Henderson, was starring at exactly the same time and had a very similar skillset. The year Raines stole 90 bases, Henderson stole 108. When Raines slugged .500 and stole 50 bases in 1987 -- something only seven men had done in the previous 50 years -- Henderson had already slugged .500 while stealing 80 bases in 1985. Raines was unlike almost anyone in the history of the game, and at the same time, he wasn't quite Rickey. That marked his career and was probably a big reason why it took 10 years for him to get elected to the Hall of Fame.

    The second thing, though, was Raines' overwhelming modesty. There have been many modest stars throughout the years, but Raines was especially so. He simply could not see how good he was. Once, when Bill James was working on arbitration cases, he was trying to explain to Raines that he was as valuable as his teammate Andre Dawson, and Raines simply would not hear it. Dawson was a truly great player, he said. And Raines thought of himself as merely a good one.

    Raines' first great day came on Aug. 16, 1987, against the Pirates in Montreal.

    Raines began by blasting the ball off the center-field wall for a standup triple. He followed with a double down the right-field line and then cracked a single between first and second. Raines was a homer away from the cycle, and the next time up, he smashed the ball hard, but it wasn't high enough; it was a second double down the right-field line. He was 4-for-4 entering his last at-bat. A reliever named Mark Ross was kind enough to throw a hanging curveball. Raines turned on it and mashed it over the right-field wall for the home run that completed the cycle.

    Raines went 5-for-5 with a single, two doubles, a triple, a homer, an RBI and four runs scored. And then, typically, he refused to celebrate himself at all.

    Video: CWS@BOS: Raines mashes three homers at Fenway Park

    "The way our team keeps fighting back to win," Raines said that day, "you feel you have to do your share. So hitting for the cycle was the way I did it."

    Raines then said that Tom Foley was the real hero of the game -- Foley had hit a three-run homer with the Expos trailing in the seventh.

    "I did my best," Raines said, "but Tom is the guy you should be talking with."

    That was after he hit for the cycle. That was Raines.

    The second half of Raines' career, he was more of a sturdy veteran for some very good teams. He was an everyday player for some contending White Sox teams, and he was an effective role player for the Yankees' 1996 and '98 World Series winners. Raines' greatest day during this stretch came on April 18, 1994, when he was playing for the White Sox at Fenway Park.

    Raines reached base six times on that day -- on four hits, a walk and an error -- and scored five runs. But what made the day special was that he hit three home runs. Raines is one of only 13 visiting players to hit three homers in a game at Fenway. The list includes Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Harmon Killebrew and his teammate that day, Frank Thomas, who accomplished the feat a couple of years later. Thomas did homer that April day to share in Raines' glory.

    "I had to," Thomas said. "Otherwise, [Raines] would have never stopped talking about it."

    The coolest part of Raines' three-homer game was that after he hit his third home run, the Boston fans stood and applauded for him. Raines and his wife were once subjected to racial profiling at Logan Airport, and his wife was questioned for a robbery, even though the suspect was 10 years younger. As a result, he was on the record saying he never wanted to play in Boston. When the fans stood and applauded him, Raines said, it was special.

    "It was a pleasurable thing to see," he told reporters after the game. "The fans here in Boston really appreciate baseball."

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  • Former Astro Andersen 'doubly happy' for Bagwell

    PHILADELPHIA -- The way Larry Andersen looks at things, a little piece of him will be going into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend when former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell is inducted Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.

    Andersen and Bagwell will be forever linked for being on the opposite ends of one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history -- Andersen, then a 37-year-old relief pitcher, was dealt to the Red Sox on Aug. 31, 1990, in exchange for Bagwell, an unknown Double-A third baseman in Boston's system.

    Bagwell moved to first base the next spring and won a starting job with the Astros to begin the season, setting the stage for a Hall of Fame career. He won the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award and the '94 NL Most Valuable Player Award during the strike-shortened season. Bagwell hit .297 with 2,314 hits, 449 homers, 1,529 RBIs, 1,517 runs scored and a .408 on-base percentage in 15 seasons with Houston (1991-2005).

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    Andersen, meanwhile, pitched really well for a Red Sox team that made the postseason, posting a 1.23 ERA in 15 games, then he wound up finishing his career with the Padres (1991-92) and Phillies (1993-94), for whom he serves as the radio color announcer.

    Bagwell will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday -- and you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 10 a.m. CT.

    "I tongue-in-cheek say for him going in the Hall of Fame makes me feel a lot better about myself," Andersen said. "But the truth of the matter is, and I've said this for a few years since he was eligible, I would love to see him get in, because I love to see guys get into the Hall of Fame that played the game right, that respected the game, that did all the things you expect a Hall of Famer to do, or you think they would. He does that. … Obviously, with the trade, it makes it doubly happy for me."

    The 1990 Astros were rebuilding and trading away veterans for prospects, so when Andersen was called into manager Art Howe's office, he knew the drill. He had been traded twice previously in his career.

    "So I go back to Art Howe's office and he said, 'You've been traded,' and I said, 'Well, I figured,'" Andersen said. "Guys had already been traded ahead of me. I said, 'Where am I going?' He said, 'Boston.' I said, 'Who'd you guys get?' He said, 'We got a third baseman from Double-A.' I was like, 'I'm pitching good and I'm one of the best setup men,' I felt like, at the time, and coming off two sub-2.00 ERAs two seasons in a row.

    "I was like, 'Really, all they got was a Double-A third baseman for me?' After the fact, Bagwell is looking back and going, 'You've got to be kidding me? I'm going to the Hall of Fame and all they got was this 40-year-old reliever for me?' It kind of goes hand in hand. We joked about it, we laughed about it, but it's all been good for me, and I'm sure for him going into the Hall of Fame is good for him, too."

    Andersen wound up facing Bagwell five times, allowing one hit, walking him once and striking him out twice. He hasn't spoken to Bagwell since the career Astro was elected in, but he has a message for the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

    "I would love to tell him congratulations and thanks for keeping me relevant," he joked.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight Sunday at 11 a.m. CT, followed by the ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 10 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

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  • Bagwell's greatest game: 2 HR, 7 RBIs, SB, HBP

    Jeff Bagwell's greatest game is a tough one to pick out -- he didn't really have a single game that stood out among the rest. He had three homers in a game three times. Bagwell hit for the cycle once in 2001, and he came a single short of the cycle once in 1997. He drove in seven RBIs in a game twice, scored four runs in a game three times. Bagwell did tie a Major League record with four doubles in a game against the Giants in 1996.

    Then, Bagwell had multiple extra-base hits in a game 152 times, three more than Carl Yastrzemski and three more than the man he's most connected to, Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Bagwell and Thomas were born on the same day, played at the same time and both won MVP Awards in 1994.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    See, the thing that made Bagwell a Hall of Famer was the consistency, the fact that one year was like another ... save 1994, when Bagwell was about as hot as any hitter ever.

    "Every pitch that I was looking for, I got," Bagwell would tell Sports Illustrated years later. "And when I got it, I didn't miss it."

    That year, Bagwell hit .368/.451/.750 with 104 runs and 116 RBIs in just 110 games. That was, of course, the strike season, but he would not have been able to finish off that crazy year and put up otherworldly stats even if there had been no strike. Bagwell injured his hand when he was hit by an Andy Benes pitch.

    Getting hit by pitches is another part of the Bagwell story. He unabashedly crowded the plate. Three straight years in his prime, Bagwell's season was halted when he was hit in the hand by a pitch.

    And so, let's pick an odd game for Bags -- Aug. 13, 2000. It was a thoroughly unmemorable game. The Astros were terrible, the Phillies were terrible, and August games between terrible teams rarely seem to bring the best out of the great players. If you watch the video highlights you can feel the sheer lack of energy in the park.

    Video: Bagwell tours HOF, sees new HOF plaque

    But Bagwell was Bagwell … that's the point of the guy's career. He was always there to do something to beat you, no matter the situation.

    In the first inning, with Julio Lugo on second base, Bagwell rifled a ground-ball single up the middle to drive in a run.

    In the second inning, with Lugo on third base, Bagwell hit a run-scoring ground ball. Two at-bats, two RBIs.

    In the fourth, he smashed a classic Bagwell home run -- pulling it to left with that frighteningly short swing. That scored three more runs. He could not have looked less excited or less impressed with himself.

    In the fifth, Wayne Gomes hit Bagwell with a pitch -- it wouldn't be a true Bagwell game without a hit-by-pitch. He was hit by 128 pitches in his career, top 50 in baseball history.

    But then Bagwell did what he loved to do -- he promptly stole second base. He was a staggeringly good baserunner. It is the most underappreciated of Bagwell's many talents. He stole more than 200 bases in his career, but more to the point, Baseball Reference has him worth 31 extra runs just for his baserunning, most for any first baseman ever.

    Video: Bagwell on his HOF career, sticking with one club

    In the eighth, Bagwell smashed his second home run of the game, this one a blast to right-center field. Bagwell was not a particularly big player. He was listed at 6 feet, 195 pounds, and it was always stunning to see him standing next to his Hall of Fame teammate Craig Biggio. Bagwell's immense power gave this impression that he was a giant. And Biggio's scrappy play at second base left you thinking he was small. Then they would stand next to each other, and they were almost exactly the same height and weight.

    In the ninth, Bagwell singled again, driving in another run. In all, he had four hits, two homers, scored three runs, drove in seven and stole a base. It was Bagwell at his best, but he was his understated best that entire season. In that year, 2000, Bagwell scored 152 runs, the most runs for any player in the past 80 years.

    "Our lineup can score anywhere, anytime," Bagwell said after the game. "All I do is play my part."

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers), and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

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  • Pair of moves put Bagwell on Hall path

    Jeff Bagwell's early career path featured a pair of turns that put him in the express lane toward Cooperstown.

    To the throngs that will celebrate his induction into baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday, Bagwell is known as the slugger who accumulated 449 home runs, won the 1994 National League Most Valuable Player Award and finished among the top 20 in MVP Award voting nine other times during 15 Major League seasons, all with the Astros.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    To establish himself at first base with Houston, Bagwell had to complete figurative change-of-address forms requiring him to move across the diamond and across the country before he made his Major League debut on April 8, 1991.

    Having been reared in Connecticut before attending the University of Hartford and spending his first full professional season with New Britain of the Double-A Eastern League, Bagwell knew little about life outside New England when Houston acquired him from Boston for right-hander Larry Andersen on Aug. 30, 1990.

    "I'd heard of Nolan Ryan," Bagwell said, referring to the adored Astros right-hander. "But you know, in my house, all we talked about was the Red Sox."

    Possibly nobody could have foreseen the trade's impact upon the Astros and Bagwell -- particularly the immediacy of that impact.

    Literally touched by greatness as he launched his career -- he shook hands with legendary catcher Johnny Bench on Opening Day at Cincinnati -- Bagwell was voted the NL Rookie of the Year Award winner in 1991 after batting .294 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs.

    Moving to Houston and switching from third base to first precipitated his instant success.

    Bagwell almost surely would have excelled had he remained a Red Sox third-base prospect. However, Boston was perennially in "win-now" mode. Cementing himself in the middle of a big league batting order probably would not have occurred as quickly with the Red Sox as it did with the rebuilding Astros.

    Video: HOU@ATL: Jeff Bagwell hits his first career home run

    Astros scout Tom Mooney, who covered the New England area, was keenly aware of Boston's personnel depth and of Bagwell's talent, having seen him perform as a collegian.

    "The Red Sox had Mo Vaughn at the time, they had [Scott] Hatteberg, they had [Tim] Naehring, they had Scott Cooper -- they had a bunch of guys in the pipeline, so to speak," said Mooney, who was influential in Seattle drafting Ken Griffey Jr. first overall in 1987. "Jeff would have eventually made his mark, but the thing about going to Houston was, he got the clock running a lot earlier."

    Said Bagwell on a conference call last week, "I totally understand the trade. If I were the Red Sox, I would have made that trade, too."

    Video: HOU@PIT: Bagwell's upper-deck homer in Pittsburgh

    Beating the Aug. 31 deadline to finalize rosters for postseason eligibility, the Red Sox were eager to acquire Andersen -- "he of the fantastic slider," as then-Astros general manager Bill Wood said.

    The trade initially dismayed Astros players and fans. Andersen was among several players from Houston's veteran-laden squads of the late 1980s who were jettisoned during a transition to a younger, lower-salaried team that christened the 1991 season.

    "That was one of many departures in a couple of years there that got everybody's attention, and really, we were not happy about," said Cubs broadcaster Jim Deshaies, then a member of the Astros' starting rotation.

    The same day they obtained Bagwell, the Astros shipped second baseman Bill Doran to Cincinnati for a package of prospects.

    Bagwell led the Eastern League with a .333 batting average at the time of the trade. He also had four home runs, prompting skeptics to wonder whether the Astros had picked up a powerless hitter.

    However, Astros offcials maintained confidence in Bagwell.

    "We think he's a right-handed Don Mattingly," assistant general manager Bob Watson said, citing the Yankees first baseman who was considered among the finest performers of that era.

    Video: LAD@HOU: Bagwell hits three homers in the game

    Wood was resolute in trade discussions with Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman.

    "Lou was pushing some players at the Triple-A level that we didn't hold in as high a regard as we did Bagwell, and we kept insisting if we were going to do the deal, that it would have to be for Bagwell," Wood said.

    With Bagwell secured, the Astros sent him to instructional league, partly to give the organization's talent evaluators a better look at him. A consensus quickly formed: The 22-year-old already was primed to hit in the Majors.

    "He had the rookie label, but he was much more advanced," said 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez, another first-year Astro in 1991. "He had a great idea of the strike zone, he knew how to play the game and he was strong."

    Convictions about Bagwell's prowess grew the following March as Bagwell began the Grapefruit League season as one of the team's hottest hitters. However, so did incumbent third baseman Ken Caminiti. Gonzalez, another third-base candidate, also showed considerable potential at the plate. Meanwhile, Mike Simms, the organization's tentative choice to occupy first, struggled through the exhibition season's first half.

    "I don't know if he had more than a hit or two, and he was striking out three out of every four times up," said Art Howe, then the Astros' manager.

    Video: HOU@CIN: Bagwell is first Astro to join 30-30 club

    A little more than two weeks before Opening Day, Howe, following extensive talks with Wood, switched Bagwell to first base, kept Caminiti at third and shifted Gonzalez to left field in an attempt to maximize the club's offensive production.

    Said Bagwell, "Bob Watson asked me, 'Do you want to play third base in Triple-A or first base in the big leagues?' I'm not the smartest guy, but I could figure that one out."

    Bob Robertson, a coach with Houston's Class A Asheville affiliate in 1991, was recruited to teach Bagwell as many of the fundamentals of playing first base as possible.

    "Bob was an excellent first baseman," Howe said, adding that Bagwell's learning curve was shortened because both he and Robertson threw right-handed.

    Video: HOU@CHC: Bagwell becomes Astros' homer king

    Bagwell's aptitude at third base, Howe reasoned, indicated that he could handle the other infield corner.

    "The only thing he lacked at first base was size," Howe said of Bagwell, whose height was generously listed at 6 feet. "But anything in his area code, he could catch it. That's for sure."

    Besides hitting Bagwell thousands of ground balls, Robertson introduced him to intricacies such as blocking low throws with both hands, tagging runners when a throw veers up the line and maintaining proper footwork when holding runners on base.

    Robertson also devoted considerable time talking to Bagwell, whom he nicknamed "Hammer," about the mental challenges he would face.

    Video: HOU@CIN: Bagwell hits his 400th career home run

    "I can still see him coming to the practice field in that golf cart," Robertson said. "It really was a privilege and a pleasure to be around him. Just a wonderful, wonderful athlete and a wonderful, wonderful guy. One of the best I ever met in the game of baseball. He was a bulldog. The intensity that he had."

    Robertson sensed that Bagwell would retain the knowledge he gained. The latter's ascent to the Hall of Fame proved Robertson correct.

    During one of their final tutorials, Robertson recalled telling Bagwell, "Hammer, once it sets in, you're never going to lose it.

    "And he never did."

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  • Hall of Fame awaits first baseman Bagwell

    HOUSTON -- The wait is nearly over for former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell.

    Bagwell, who played his final game in the big leagues for the Astros in the 2005 World Series, will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, the culmination of a terrific 15-year career in which he's remembered as one of the most feared sluggers of a generation.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    It took Bagwell seven years on the ballot before he was elected in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, but the past few months leading up to the induction have flown by, he said. He will leave for Cooperstown, N.Y., next week, marking the final leg of his baseball journey.

    "It's coming quick," Bagwell said last week. "It was nice when it was three months, then it got to two and one, and now all of a sudden I'm here talking to you guys on Friday. It's sneaking up on me really quick. It's been a great process. I know once I get there and the culmination of the entire event, it will be special."

    Bagwell will be enshrined alongside Tim Raines, who played most of his career in Montreal, former Rangers, Astros, Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez, longtime Braves general manager John Schuerholz and former MLB Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig. He'll join longtime teammate Craig Biggio as having the only two plaques in the Hall of Fame with Astros caps.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    Biggio, who was inducted in 2015, will be on stage with Bagwell and the rest of the 55 Hall of Famers who are expected to attend the ceremony. A huge contingent of Astros fans made the trip to Cooperstown two years ago, but Bagwell isn't sure what to expect this time.

    "Baseball has become so big in Houston and people travel," he said. "If I watch the games nowadays, you can see Astros fans in every city they go to. That's very exciting. I hope they show up. A lot of people, when I walk the city say they're going to be there and stuff like that.

    "I don't want to put expectations, but if they come, I'm very, very grateful for that. I also know if they can't come, they'll support me here, too. It's not that easy to get to Cooperstown and get hotels and all that kind of stuff."

    Bagwell's induction comes at a time when the Astros are in the midst of one of their best seasons in history. Houston entered Friday at 63-32 with a 16-game lead in the American League West and the best record in the AL. Bagwell, who admitted he hasn't watched much baseball since he retired, has become hooked.

    "They have so much talent, and young talent," he said. "What I've seen is the city has really taken to this team, and everywhere I go, even when they lose, people are like, 'What happened last night?' They're not going to win every game. They're really, really special. I walk into the clubhouse and I see the guys, and they all seem to enjoy each other's company.

    "They've got a really good thing going on, and our main thing now is just to get everybody healthy and this is a great opportunity for us. ... I am truly just a fan, and to see the city so excited about them and me going into the Hall of Fame, it's a good vibe in the city, and I'm proud to be a part of it."   

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  • Schuerholz humbled to enter Hall with legends

    ATLANTA -- Those who have had the pleasure of being introduced to John Schuerholz's elegant and substantive communication skills have often said he could roll out of bed and steal the attention of any room with a speech he might not have previously prepared.

    Blessed with the ability to educate and lead via the expression of the knowledge he has gained while spending more than a half-century within the baseball world, Schuerholz has established himself as one of the greatest executives in professional sports history. But now that it's time for him to gain his game's greatest honor, Schuerholz admits he was somewhat challenged as he attempted to provide proper thanks and context within the speech he has prepared to deliver on July 30, when he is inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "I've made a lot of speeches in my life as a baseball executive, and before that I was an educator and communicator who spoke on my feet a lot," Schuerholz said. "I don't mind making speeches, but this one was the most profound and challenging [to prepare], because it's about me, it's about my life, it's about people in my life and circumstances in my life that have allowed me to go where I'm going to go."

    Schuerholz's highly successful and celebrated journey will be highlighted when he travels to Cooperstown, N.Y., next week for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The former general manager, who currently serves as the Braves' vice chairman, will be inducted within a class that also includes Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez and former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    "[These players] have distinguished themselves and separated themselves as consistently reliable winners," Schuerholz said. "They have committed themselves to be the greatest players in the world, and they have achieved that. I'm so proud and happy for all of them and honored to be inducted with guys of this caliber. I couldn't have picked three greater [players]. I probably tried to get all of them at one point as a general manager."

    Schuerholz's speech will give context to a baseball journey that began when he ended his days as a junior high school teacher in his native Baltimore to accept an entry-level position for the hometown Orioles. He'll give thanks to Lou Gorman, who took him to Kansas City to help start the expansion Royals, who won the 1985 World Series, just four years after Schuerholz was named the team's GM.

    Then, of course, Schuerholz will reminisce about the days he has spent in Atlanta, where he arrived in 1991 and immediately guided the Braves to a record 14 consecutive division titles. In '95, he became the first GM to win a World Series in both the American League and the National League.

    Schuerholz's success in Atlanta was enriched by the time he spent employing Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox and three Hall of Fame pitchers -- John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Each of these men will be reunited again next week in Cooperstown to celebrate and reminisce about the greatest era in Braves history.

    "I didn't expect to win 14 consecutive division championships, and neither did Bobby," Schuerholz said. "We just put our noses to the grindstone each and every year. We worked shoulder to shoulder to build the best teams possible, made the adjustments when we had to and just kept going."

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  • Pudge looking forward to induction into HOF

    ARLINGTON -- Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is just days away from the crowning moment of his Major League Baseball career.

    On Sunday, Rodriguez will be standing on a podium in the upstate New York village of Cooperstown. Behind him will be seated some of the greatest players in the history of the game and, on that afternoon, Rodriguez will join them as a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "I'm really excited and basically anxious," Rodriguez said. "Obviously, I'm not going to lie to you, I will be a little nervous. The days are getting closer. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a great weekend."

    Rodriguez was a first-ballot selection by the Baseball Writers' Association of America after a 21-year career in which he was a 14-time All-Star, a 13-time Gold Glove winner and won the 1999 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

    Rodriguez will go in as a Texas Ranger after playing 13 seasons with the team that originally signed him as a 16-year-old out of Puerto Rico. But he also won a World Series with the Marlins, played in another with the Tigers and had brief stops with the Astros, Yankees and Nationals before retiring after the 2011 season.

    Rodriguez will be inducted along with Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell, Expos outfielder Tim Raines, longtime Royals and Braves general manager John Schuerholz and former Commissioner Bud Selig.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    "I'm looking forward to everything," Rodriguez said. "This happens only one time, so I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. I talked to some of the Hall of Famers like Roberto Alomar and Orlando Cepeda, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz, they all told me there is a lot going on but at the same time enjoy it. It's going to be a lot of fun."

    A number of current and former Rangers players and executives are planning to be there including owners Ray Davis and Neil Leibman. The former executives include Tom Schieffer, Doug Melvin, Tom Grieve, Dan O'Brien, Sandy Johnson and Omar Minaya, along with former coaches Rudy Jaramillo and Bobby Jones.

    Also attending is Gloria Oates, the widow of former Rangers manager Johnny Oates. He led Texas to division titles in 1996 and 1998-99 before passing away in 2004. Rodriguez had the best seasons of his career while playing for Oates.

    "I have so much respect for Johnny Oates, having her there is going to be a very special moment," Rodriguez said.

    Among the former teammates who are expected to attend are Tim Crabtree, Benji Gil, Jose Guzman, Geno Petralli, Darren Oliver and Ruben Sierra, as well as former Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

    Hall of Fame golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez will also attend. Chi Chi and Pudge are not related, but they are both from Puerto Rico and have been close friends for many years.

    "We have a great relationship," Pudge said. "He is a Hall of Fame golfer, but if you sit down and talk baseball with Chi Chi, he knows baseball. He can answer every question from A to Z about baseball. He knows what happened in the past and what's going on right now. He has been a big part of my career from day one."

    The Rangers will also honor Rodriguez by retiring his No. 7 jersey before their Aug. 12 game against the Astros.

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  • Raines 'on cloud' in advance of HOF induction

    Tim Raines was pleased to learn that four buses full of fans from Montreal will be traveling to Cooperstown, N.Y., to watch him get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

    Raines said the Montreal fans played a role in him becoming a great player.

    :: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

    "Montreal was the biggest part of my career," Raines said in a conference call. "I mean, it's where I started, it's where I grew up as a Major League player. It's where I lived for 12 years. I'm looking forward to seeing the fans."

    Even though there hasn't been a professional baseball team in Montreal since 2004, Raines will never be forgotten, and for good reason. He was one of the best leadoff men to put on a baseball uniform.

    Raines will become the third player -- Gary Carter and Andre Dawson are the others -- inducted with an Expos cap on his plaque, having spent 13 of his 23 seasons in the Major Leagues with Montreal while making seven All-Star appearances, winning an All-Star MVP in 1987 -- his game-winning triple helped the National League edge the American League, 2-0 -- and capturing four straight stolen-base titles from 1981-84.

    MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

    Video: Justice, Footer preview HOF induction weekend

    Besides the Expos, who went on to become the Nationals when they moved to Washington, Raines played for the White Sox, Yankees, A's, Orioles and Marlins before retiring after the 2002 season.

    Raines joins Ralph Kiner and Jim Rice as the only players elected in their final year on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. Rice made it in his 15th year on the ballot in 2009, and Kiner made it on his 13th try in 1975.

    Raines ranks fifth all time in stolen bases (808), and he recorded 2,605 hits with 1,571 runs. Even when his days as an everyday player were over, he proved to be a valuable reserve, helping the Yankees win World Series titles in 1996 and '98. In his three years in New York, Raines had a .395 on-base percentage and a .299 batting average.

    It didn't hit Raines that he was going to be enshrined in Cooperstown until he went to the Hall of Fame orientation a couple of months ago. The driver who picked him up at the airport in Albany, N.Y., had on a shirt that had the Hall of Fame logo on it. That's when Raines realized that he was going to be part of a great fraternity.

    "Going through the orientation, it hit me wholeheartedly. I've been on a cloud ever since," Raines said.

    Raines said he would not be a Hall of Famer without Dawson, whom Raines called his big brother and a father figure. The two played together in Montreal for eight seasons.

    Earlier in his career, it looked like Raines' baseball career would go downhill before it started. He started having a substance-abuse problem after his first full year in the big leagues in 1981. But he managed to overcome his problems thanks to people like Dawson.

    "The impact that he had on me was tremendous," Raines said about Dawson. "He was a silent leader. He led by example. He is one of the few guys I know that is in the Hall of Fame. … He was a big influence. I owe a lot to him for being a friend, teammate and a positive influence on the way I played the game."

    Raines does not feel he will be the last member of the Expos to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He predicts that Vladimir Guerrero will join him as early as next year. The two were teammates in 2001.

    "I'm not sure if he is going in as an Expo or not," Raines said. "There's one guy left, and I was able to play with him as well."

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