Tens of thousands of fans traveled to Cooperstown, N.Y. for Sunday's National Baseball Hall of Fame inductions.
The 2014 class was a special one, the largest since 1999. Three players entered the Hall on their first try – Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox also gained entry through committee votes.
Here are the key moments from Sunday’s festivities.
The Big Hurt Tears Up
Thomas was known for his physicality during his professional baseball career.
At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, he looked more like a football player. His nickname matched his size – “The Big Hurt.” Thomas put a hurt on opposing pitchers, smashing 521 home runs and winning back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player awards.
Thomas’s speech stood out for its emotion, with the Big Hurt tearing up as he joined baseball’s immortals.
His voice cracked as he discussed his parents; his wife and children; his mentors; his teammates. Luckily, Thomas had tissues handy. He spent much of the speech wiping his eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m an emotional guy,” he said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve.”
He ended his speech with a fitting piece of advice.
“To all you kids out there, just remember one thing from today: there is no shortcuts to success. Hard work, dedication, commitment, stay true to who you are,” he said.
Maddux Family Pranks
“My brother Mike led by example,” Maddux said, thanking his older sibling, a fellow Major League pitcher.
“I was very fortunate to have a brother I could learn from. He even taught me about science. It had to do with methane and a lighter, and I still get a huge kick out of it today.”
Torre Speaks … And Speaks … And Speaks …
Joe Torre has led a special baseball life, from a standout catcher with the Cardinals to a four-time champion manager with the Yankees and now, in the commissioner’s office as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.
“Our sport is part of the American soul, and it's ours to borrow just for a while, to take care of it for a time, and then pass it on to the next generation,” he said.
While Torre spoke for 28 minutes, he failed to directly credit his former boss with the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, an oversight he immediately regretted.
Joke’s on John Smoltz
Glavine and Maddux both retired one year ahead of longtime teammate John Smoltz, so Smoltz will be available for entry into Cooperstown in 2015. In the meantime, the Hall of Famers had fun at Smoltz’s expense.
Maddux’s joys in Atlanta? “Winning division titles, watching the kids grow up, and watching John Smoltz’s hairline recede,” he said.
Glavine thanked Maddux in his speech.
“You made me wealthier with all the money we took from Smoltzie on the golf course,” he said.