COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- After all the years of waiting, after a weekend of ovations, and after the anxiety of a speech in front of fans and Hall of Famers alike, Joseph Lowell Gordon, Rickey Nelson Henley Henderson and James Edward Rice were immortalized on Sunday night when the bronze plaques that sketch their faces and articulate their achievements were drilled into waiting slots on the semi-circular wall of the Hall of Fame gallery.
It was a fait accompli, by then, nothing more than a formality for the three members of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2009. But it remains nothing less than the permanent establishment of their legacies, affixed in perpetuity in baseball's most hallowed corridor.
Fans with jerseys of Henderson and Rice, with hats sporting A's and B's, with shirts and sneakers sporting team logos and yes, even with a pair of red socks crowded the gallery to see the weekend's final and most lasting installment.
The plaques were hung in alphabetical order: Gordon first, then Henderson, and lastly Rice. It was fitting for Rice to go last, having waited 15 years to be enshrined in his final year on the ballot. Cries of "Finally" and loud applause from the Boston fans filled the rotunda as the final screws were drilled and capped with small baseballs.
Gordon's plaque paid tribute to "an acrobatic second baseman with tremendous power." Henderson's -- with the text a little smaller to fit in all nine of his teams -- described a player who was "faster than a speeding bullet, scored more runs (2,295), stole more bases (1,406) than any player in history." Rice's told of a slugger "with titanic strength and an innate ability to hit to all fields."
Once the installation was complete, the awaiting crowd was allowed to take pictures with the plaques. They, too, sought an immortal memento from an unforgettable weekend.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.