MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Hall weekend a brilliant blur for four inductees

Hall weekend a brilliant blur for four inductees

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There have been words of encouragement from Tom Seaver and coffee with George Brett. There was a fireside chat with Gaylord Perry and a stroll down memory lane with Bobby Cox.

Did we mention the karaoke?

"Yeah, they had me sing the other night," Craig Biggio said.

He chose Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer."

"Don't ask me why I picked it," he said. "I have no idea."

As initiations go, this is about as mild as it gets.

"Whatever these guys ask me to do is fine," Biggio said. "You want me to tell Sandy Koufax no?"

Mainly, though, this induction weekend for baseball's four new Hall of Famers is a blur leading up to their formal introduction and speeches this afternoon. Coverage begins with bonus coverage of the Spink and Frick Awards on MLB Network and MLB.com at 11 a.m. ET, with a special edition of MLB Tonight beginning at noon. The quartet will be inducted during a ceremony that will begin at 1:30 p.m.

What they all say is that this is when the reality of their remarkable careers and accomplishments hits them square in the face.

Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Once upon a time, these new Hall of Famers looked up to Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Bob Gibson as both heroes and cornerstones on which this game rests. Now John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Biggio will stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

All four of them are still trying to wrap their minds around the meaning of it all. There are only 310 members of the Hall of Fame, just 215 players. Perhaps it'll take years for them to be completely comfortable with the idea of being part of the best of the best.

"These guys before me," Smoltz said, "I hope to honor the Hall of Fame with that same kind of dignity and character."

He remembered once being invited to visit the locker room of the NBA champion Detroit Pistons and was overwhelmed when an assortment of players that knew his game. This weekend has brought an avalanche of similar emotions as he has met one baseball hero after another.

"When I see anyone that has had the history and the careers they've had, I'm blown away," Smoltz said. "From Tom Seaver to every single person, they've been so nice, so accommodating. Anytime you're a rookie, you expect whatever is going to come. I've always said I don't care if I'm the last person on the totem pole. To be part of this group is something I never envisioned."

Part of this process is a bonding of the four members of the 2015 class. Johnson and Martinez hit it off immediately. And Smoltz and Biggio had a long history during five Astros-Braves postseason series between 1997 and 2005.

"From the first moment we were announced, it's four guys that respect and admire each other," Martinez said. "I'll tell you what, being around Randy, he's my big brother now. We've been hanging out together. It's great to see the kind of person behind the uniform. If you watched him compete, you could never tell he's the man he is. Smoltz is the same way. They're so committed to the game."

Johnson and Biggio were teammates for two months after the Astros acquired him in a 1998 Trade Deadline deal.

"Craig was the first guy that came up and welcomed me there and asked if I needed anything," Johnson said. "I haven't forgotten that. I'm really excited to go in with a class like I'm going in with."

Still, the idea of being comfortable as peers Gibson, Koufax, etc., may not happen immediately.

"I'm very relaxed because I know a lot of these people on a first-name basis," Johnson said. "I've faced quite a few of them and met a lot of them. Now to be amongst them in the Hall of Fame, it hasn't sunk in yet."

Biggio said there were moments when the whole experience was surreal. For instance, when he sat beside a fireplace and visited with Perry.

"We sat there and talked baseball, peanuts, life," Biggio said.

When he went for a cup of coffee at 6 a.m. Saturday, he ended up visiting with Brett, Cox and Braves President John Schuerholz.

"It's like that here," Biggio said. "I don't want to stay in my room. I want to hang out in the lobby. Being part of this fraternity is special. You hear a lot of Hall of Famers talk about it. They support one another. They're there for family. I'm truly honored to be part of it."

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.