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Dawson, Herzog, Harvey inducted into Hall

Dawson, Herzog, Harvey inducted into Hall

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The Hawk, the Rat and the Lord all took their places in the National Baseball Hall of Fame behind the Clark Sports Center on a rare grey and rainy induction Sunday.

Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey were this year's inductees, raising the total of plaques in the Hall of Fame to 292. That number includes nine umpires, 19 managers and 203 players. Forty-seven previously elected members were on the stage for the 68th Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Midway through the three-hour event, and just as Harvey's pre-recorded acceptance speech began on a giant video screen, the heaviest rain suddenly ended and the weather was just fine, as the sun played hide and seek with storm clouds for the remainder of the afternoon.

"See, I stopped the rain," Harvey, nicknamed "God" by the late baseball writer and historian Jerome Holtzman, only half-kiddingly told the soaked crowd of about 10,000.

Earlier on Sunday morning, the former National League umpire had predicted he would hold off the showers, which pelted this small hamlet on the banks of Otsego Lake all weekend. But even he couldn't completely stop the gentle rain that began falling just after John Fogerty played his epic baseball song, "Center Field."

"The Hawk," this year's sole player elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and a 21-year veteran, went into the hallowed Hall wearing the tri-colored logo of the Montreal Expos. Herzog was a manager of four teams, and Harvey umpired 4,673 games in the big leagues, 18 as a crew chief, from 1962-92, including numerous playoff, World Series and All-Star games. Herzog and Harvey were elected last year by separate veterans committees.

"I didn't play this game with this goal in my mind," Dawson said about getting into the Hall. "But I'm living proof that if you love this game, the game will love you back. I'm proof that any young person who can hear my voice right now can be standing here as I am."

Herzog is sporting a Cardinals cap on his plaque, representing his 10 years of managing in St. Louis, where his club won the 1982 World Series and National League pennants in '85 and '87.

Jon Miller of the Giants and ESPN won the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually in recognition of major contributions to baseball broadcasting, and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was elected by the BBWAA as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner for his excellence in baseball reporting.

Just like the five men, Fogerty's bat-shaped guitar named "Slugger" took its place in the museum on Main Street. Fogerty donated it to Jane Forbes Clark, the Hall's chairman, during the ceremony.

"Cooperstown is the home of baseball," said the 80-year-old Harvey, in concluding his speech. "One of the many duties of the home plate umpire is to make sure that the runner touches home. Well, if you're a true baseball fan you need to visit Cooperstown. This is home and you need to be sure you'll touch home by the end of the game. I'll be watching to make sure you do."

Harvey has battled through throat cancer and a recent stroke. Though he was well enough to attend the festivities, his acceptance speech was video-taped in advance, because of the lack of strength in his voice and uncertainty about how much (or little) he'd be able to talk on this particular day.

He was the first umpire in 11 years to be inducted and the first living umpire in 21 years to make the leap into baseball's most cherished shrine.

Nestor Chylak, an American League umpire, was inducted posthumously in 1999, and Al Barlick, another NL arbiter, was inducted in '89. Barlick was the crew chief and home plate umpire when Harvey worked his first game on April 10, 1962, on the occasion of the christening of Dodger Stadium. Harvey was at third base that day.

There were equal parts Expos and Cubs fans to cheer on Dawson. The Cardinals, who ushered reliever Bruce Sutter into the Hall in 2006, were also well represented among the throng in support of Herzog, whose No. 24 will be the 11th Cardinals number to be placed in mothballs when it's retired in St. Louis on July 31.

"Ever since December, every question anybody ever asked me was what it felt like to be a Hall of Famer," Herzog said in concluding his speech. "I said that I didn't know. I kept saying, 'I won't know until July 25.' Well, now I can tell you what it feels like: Being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame is like going to heaven before you die."

Herzog, 78, was nicknamed "the White Rat" as a Minor Leaguer. He was best known for his managerial stints with the Royals in the 1970s and the Cardinals in the '80s. His Royals lost to the Yankees three years running in the American League Championship Series (1976-78), and his Cardinals defeated the Brewers in a seven-game 1982 World Series.

He resigned for good midway through the 1990 season, saying that he could no longer manage the modern player. His overall managerial record was 1,281-1,125, a .532 winning percentage.

Herzog joined four other stellar managers from his era in the Hall: Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda and Dick Williams. Williams was the most recently inducted, in 2008. Weaver, Anderson and Lasorda were all in attendance this weekend.

Dawson, who was nicknamed "The Hawk" by an uncle as a nine-year-old, had 438 homers, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases, but was never a member of a team that went to the World Series. He only appeared in the playoffs twice: for the Expos squad that lost the 1981 National League Championship Series to the Dodgers in five games, and the 1989 Cubs, who lost the NLCS to the Giants in five games.

Born and raised in Miami, Dawson finished his career with the Marlins in 1996, but he missed their first World Series championship by a year. Dawson is currently an executive assistant in the Florida organization.

An outfielder with speed and power, the 56-year-old Dawson played his entire career on an injured left knee and thanked all the trainers, physicians and physical therapists, "who kept me in one piece."

He made it into the Hall on his ninth try, earning 77.9 percent of the vote, as revealed in January. His name was included on 420 of the 539 ballots. Last year, when Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice went in, Dawson missed the cut with 67 percent of the vote. Seventy-five percent is required for election.

Dawson wanted to have the Cubs insignia on his Hall of Fame plaque, but was overruled by the officials from the Hall, who made him the second player to go in as an Expo, behind catcher Gary Carter, who was elected by the BBWAA in 2003.

But in the end it hardly mattered. Dawson's No. 10 is slated to be retired by the Nationals -- the former Expos franchise -- on Aug. 10 in Washington.

"Thank you to the Montreal organization for drafting me and giving me my start," Dawson said. "You gave me my first 10 years in the Major Leagues, experiences of a new culture and playing across the border. Thank you Expos fans for your kindness and your admiration.

"And from my heart, thank you Cubs fans. You were a true a blessing in my life. I didn't know what it was like to be loved by a city until I got to Chicago. ... You were the wind beneath the Hawk's wings."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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