Class of 2017 Takes Its Place in Cooperstown

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Iván Rodríguez, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig Formally Inducted into Hall of Fame

(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – Texas came to upstate New York on Sunday, as the annual National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took on a Lone Star State flavor with the Class of 2017.

But the entire baseball world celebrated this historic and diverse class in Cooperstown under a cloudless sky at the Clark Sports Center.

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Iván Rodríguez, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig were inducted in front of 50 returning Hall of Famers and a national television audience on MLB Network as 27,500 fans basked in the brilliant sunshine on a perfect summer day.

Schuerholz, who led the Royals and Braves to World Series titles as a general manager, led off the ceremony and attributed his Hall of Fame election to a series of fateful events.

“I love baseball,” Schuerholz said. “And here I am. I’ve been out there where you’re seated today, watching in awe as the greats of the game are honored. But I must confess that I love my new seat up here on this stage much, much more.”

Bagwell, the Houston Astros legend who was genuinely humbled by the occasion, thanked his family and reflected about his Hall of Fame election.

“What kid dreams of being a Hall of Famer?” said Bagwell, whose relaxed, self-deprecating delivery thrilled the fans. “I just wanted to play for the Red Sox growing up. I never even thought about the Draft. But I kept getting a little bit better. And I realized I could play. But the only thing I really wanted to do was be a good teammate.”

Selig, who spent 22 years on the Induction Stage as baseball’s commissioner, looked right at home in front of men who are now his fellow Hall of Famers.

“I am deeply honored to receive baseball’s greatest honor,” Selig said. “It really has been a remarkable journey. What you’ve seen here today is a little boy’s dreams come true.”

Puerto Rican flags fluttered in the breeze as Rodriguez took the stage, many of which were held by Texas Rangers fans. The 13-time Gold Glove Award winner played 13 of his 21 seasons with the Rangers.

“I was a little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream,” said Rodriguez, who delivered much of his speech in Spanish and was overcome by emotion several times. “May this moment remind you that destiny is in your hands. Do what makes you happy, and love this great game of ours.”

Raines closed the ceremony with a heartfelt speech that left him teary-eyed as he recalled his path to Cooperstown and his family’s support.

“I’m surely not used to batting fifth,” said Raines, the legendary Expos leadoff man who was referring to the order of Sunday’s speeches. “But I always thought I had the power to do it.

“I want to thank Jeff, Pudge, Bud and John. We’ll be forever linked as the Class of 2017.”

Other highlights from Sunday included:

Tim Raines reflected on his career and family during Sunday’s Induction Ceremony. (Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

**The 2017 Award Winners were acknowledged on the Induction Ceremony stage: J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Claire Smith of ESPN, Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award winner Rachel Robinson and Bill King, who was posthumously honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters. Transcripts of Saturday’s Awards Presentation speeches are available at baseballhall.org/media-info.

**Sunday’s estimated crowd of 27,500 fans at the Clark Sports Center marked the fourth straight Induction Ceremony with at least 25,000 fans.

**Milleta Marie Oldick, a native of nearby Richfield Springs, N.Y., delivered a soaring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

**During the introduction of returning Hall of Famers, thunderous receptions came for several Hall of Famers, including Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio and Henry Aaron. The 83-year-old Aaron received an extended standing ovation from the crowd as well as lasting applause from the returning Hall of Famers. Fifty-five Hall of Famers – including the Class of 2017 – took the stage in Cooperstown to participate in the Induction Ceremony. The Ceremony lasted for three hours and 38 minutes.

Transcripts of Sunday’s Induction Ceremony speeches of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Iván Rodríguez, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig will be available this evening at baseballhall.org/media-info.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2018 Induction Weekend will take place July 27-30, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 29. For more information, please visit baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/future-eligibles.

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