Class of 2015 Humbled, Honored at Sunday’s Hall of Fame Induction
Biggio, Johnson, Martínez and Smoltz Formally Inducted as Class of 2015
(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – On a uniquely American afternoon, the National Pastime celebrated its heroes in Cooperstown.
It seemed only appropriate, then, that the game’s amazing diversity was also on display Sunday – thanks to the Latin American fans and stars.
Baseball’s most exclusive team welcomed four new members on Sunday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. In front of 49 returning Hall of Famers, a national TV audience on MLB Network and an estimated crowd of 45,000 fans, Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz were inducted as the Class of 2015.
The quartet was elected to the Hall of Fame in January by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, marking the first time the BBWAA has elected four players in the same year since 1955.
Biggio led off the Induction Ceremony, thrilling a huge crowd of Astros fans who made the trip from Texas.
“I gave the game everything I had,” said Biggio, his voice breaking. “Every day.”
In 20 years with the Astros, Biggio became the only player in history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs. And he batted against Smoltz more than any other big league batter.
Smoltz, who covered the 2014 Induction Ceremony as an MLB Network analyst, returned this year and took his place on the Induction Stage. Smoltz donned a preposterous brown wig while thanking Braves teammates Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, who were inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2014.
“My goal in life was to be the best teammate I possibly could,” Smoltz said. “To be here in Cooperstown is not something I ever dreamt.”
Johnson followed Smoltz, becoming the tallest Hall of Famer to take the stage at the Clark Sports Center at 6-foot-10. But as emotion overcame Johnson, he bent down to grab the podium as he thanked his family.
“I’m so happy be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and to be a part of the greatest fraternity of all time,” Johnson said.
And then came the wave. The cheers of “Pedro, Pedro, Pedro!” washed off the rolling Otsego County hills, with Dominican Republic flags flapping in the breeze. Before he even approached the podium to begin his speech, Martinez smiled and waved at fans and even danced on stage.
“I just made three new brothers,” said Martinez, referring to his fellow members of the Class of 2015. “And I would like to thank America for the opportunity that baseball gave me. My god, I am thankful. I am thankful for everything.”
Other highlights from Sunday included:
**The 2015 Award Winners were honored on the Induction Ceremony stage: Ford C. Frick Award winner Dick Enberg of the San Diego Padres and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Tom Gage, the longtime Tigers beat writer for the Detroit News. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus also told the crowd about the recently named USS Cooperstown. The award winners accepted their honors and delivered their speeches on Saturday during the fifth annual Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at Doubleday Field. Transcripts of Saturday’s Awards Presentation speeches are available at www.baseballhall.org/media-info.
**Sunday’s estimated crowd of 45,000 fans at the Clark Sports Center is the fourth-largest estimated crowd in the history of the Induction Ceremony. The 2007 Ceremony drew an estimated 82,000 fans, the 1999 Ceremony crowd was estimated at 50,000 and last year’s crowd was estimated at 48,000.
**Janette Marquez, a Dominican Republic native and mezzo soprano opera singer, delivered a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
**During the introduction of returning Hall of Famers, thunderous standing ovations came for several Hall of Famers, including Henry Aaron, Nolan Ryan and the first native of the Dominican Republic elected to the Hall of Fame: Juan Marichal. Fifty-three Hall of Famers – including the Class of 2015 – returned to the stage in Cooperstown to participate in the Induction Ceremony.
Transcripts of Sunday’s Induction Ceremony speeches of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and John Smoltz are available now at www.baseballhall.org/media-info.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2016 Induction Weekend will take place July 22-25, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for July 24. For more information, please visit www.baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/future-eligibles.
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