Hall of Fame Welcomes Seven as Class of 2022
(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – On a steamy Sunday that felt like a Caribbean summer day, a decidedly Dominican flavor spiced the 2022 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown.
Against a backdrop of Dominican Republic flags and a sea of Red Sox jerseys, Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Buck O’Neil and David Ortiz were inducted with 48 returning Hall of Famers on the stage outside the Clark Sports Center. The estimated crowd of 35,000 fans enjoyed blue skies and temperatures in the high 80s at the 73rd Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
“This is such an incredible day, and an incredible honor,” said Ortiz, who became the fourth Dominican elected to the Hall of Fame. “I’m so honored to be on this stage right now.”
The Induction Ceremony, televised live by MLB Network, began with the introduction of the Hall of Famers followed by the first speech from Kaat.
“When your career is validated by players you played against and played with (by election to the Hall of Fame), it’s the highest honor you can get,” Kaat said during his speech. “I am honored to go in with the Class of 2022.”
Hall of Famer Dave Winfield stepped to the podium next, speaking on behalf of Fowler – the Black baseball pioneer from the 19th century.
“A man born nearly two lifetimes ago, his name is John W. Jackson, a.k.a. Bud Fowler, spent his life, playing, managing and imagining what this game of baseball could be,” Winfield said. “It’s hard to imagine the challenges he faced. But the game became the love of his life. Bud Fowler, you made baseball history today. But you’ve always been a part of American history.”
Sharon Miñoso spoke on behalf of her husband Minnie, who passed away in 2015 after a career that included eight decades in the game.
“While experiencing today is bittersweet without him, I’d like to believe he is here in spirit, smiling and with his arms held wide,” said Miñoso, whose voice cracked with emotion several times during the speech. “It would have meant the world to Minnie to see this day himself. He would have been so very proud to be a Hall of Famer.”
Oliva, who followed in Miñoso’s footsteps from Cuba to the major leagues, couldn’t stop smiling during his speech.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” said Oliva, who like Fowler, Hodges, Kaat, Miñoso and O’Neil was elected by the Era Committee process in December. “When I got the phone call from (Hall of Fame Chairman) Jane Forbes Clark, everyone in the room was crying. You’ll never know how happy I was.”
Irene Hodges, Gil’s daughter, reminisced about the integrity on and off the field shown by her father.
“He was a very humble man,” Hodges said. “But he would be so proud to be here with the best of the best in baseball.”
John Jordan O’Neil was represented by his niece Dr. Angela Terry, who spoke eloquently about her “Uncle John”.
“Though any member of the family could share with you their memorable moments with Uncle John, whether that moment was when he made them feel 10 feet tall or when he gave them the ‘Keep on keeping on’ pep talk, I am the one standing before you today. We commend the (Era Committee) for expanding their view to include the totality of one’s work in baseball.”
Ortiz closed the two-hour, 34 minute ceremony with an emotional speech where he thanked friends, family and his baseball influences.
“Everybody asked me if I was ready for the speech,” Ortiz said. “Relax, I said. I’m going to talk about what I know.”
Other highlights from Sunday included:
**The 2022 Award Winners were acknowledged on the Induction Ceremony stage: BBWAA Career Excellence Award winner Tim Kurkjian of ESPN and the late Jack Graney, who was named the 2022 Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasters. Transcripts of Saturday’s Awards Presentation speeches are available here.
**Sunday’s estimated crowd of 35,000 fans at the Clark Sports Center marked the sixth time in the last eight inductions with a crowd at least that big. Prior to 2014, the average Induction Ceremony crowd was 15,000 fans.
**Alex Veda Ortiz, the daughter of David Ortiz, performed the “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Alex Veda Ortiz is a 21-year-old music producer and vocalist currently studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. As an artist, Alex is known as V3DA on streaming platforms.
** In addition to the huge ovations for returning Dominican Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Pedro Martínez and Vladimir Guerrero, Sandy Koufax – the longest tenured Hall of Famer in the history of the institution – was greeted with a huge hand when he was inducted at the start of the Induction Ceremony.
Transcripts of Sunday’s Induction Ceremony speeches of Jim Kaat, Dave Winfield, Sharon Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Irene Hodges, Dr. Angela Terry and David Ortiz are available here.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2023 Induction Weekend will take place July 21-25, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 23. For more information, please click here.