Fred McGriff, Scott Rolen Inducted as Class of 2023 at Hall of Fame
(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen spent the weekend in Cooperstown with permanent grins on their faces, thrilled at the prospect of joining baseball’s greatest team and scarcely believing they were now among the greatest legends of the game.
Years from now, electees will feel the same about McGriff and Rolen, whose humility is surpassed only by their success on the field.
Fifty Hall of Famers took the Induction Stage on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center for Sunday’s Induction Ceremony, greeted by sun-dappled skies and 78 degree temperatures. It marked the 74th Induction Ceremony and brought fans from around the country – and a national television audience on MLB Network – to Central New York.
“When your career is validated by players and executives that you saw play,” said McGriff, thanking the members of the Contemporary Baseball Players Era Committee that elected him in December, “that’s as good as it gets. I will never forget getting that call from (Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board) Jane (Forbes Clark) last December. I answered the phone and heard Jane say, ‘Congratulations. You’ve been unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.’ It was the best phone call of my life.”
McGriff, who delivered his heartfelt induction speech over 20 minutes, played 19 years with the Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Devil Rays, Cubs and Dodgers, totaling 493 home runs and 10 30-homer seasons.
Rolen became emotional almost from the start of his 16-minute speech, thanking his family before recounting his career and journey to becoming the 18th third baseman inducted into the Hall of Fame after being elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in January.
“At no point in my lifetime did it ever occur to me that I would be standing on this stage,” said Rolen, who totaled eight Gold Glove Awards and seven All-Star Game selections over a 17-year career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. “I'm glad it occurred to you because this is unbelievably special – thank you.
“On this stage is baseball greatness. It won't occur to me any time soon that I will feel a sense of belonging with this group but today, gentlemen, I am truly honored to be up here on this stage with all of you.”
Other highlights from Sunday included:
**The 2023 Award Winners were acknowledged on the Induction Ceremony stage: Ford C. Frick Award winner Pat Hughes, BBWAA Career Excellence Award winner John Lowe and Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award winner Carl Erskine, who was represented by his son, Gary. Transcripts of Saturday’s Awards Presentation speeches are available at baseballhall.org/media-info.
**Fort Drum’s Barbershop Quartet, featuring Sgt. Benjamin Price, Sgt. Kevin Mitchell, Sgt. Andrew Fisher and Sgt. Gregory Snider performed the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Fort Drum is a U.S. Army base located about 120 miles north of Cooperstown.
**Hall of Famer Johnny Bench paid tribute to the USS Cooperstown, which was commissioned earlier this year as the 23rd littoral combat ship of the U.S. Navy. The ship was named for the 70 Hall of Fame members who stepped away from their baseball careers to serve in the military.
** Both Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen received standing ovations from the returning Hall of Famers as they entered the Induction Stage, greeted enthusiastically by handshakes and smiles in a virtually unprecedented reception. Rolen’s father, Ed Rolen, and Whitey Herzog also received standing ovations in tribute to their military service.
Video replays of Sunday’s Induction Ceremony speeches of Fred McGriff and Scott Rolen will be available this evening at baseballhall.org/media-info.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2024 Induction Weekend will take place July 19-22, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 21. For more information, please visit baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/future-eligibles.