Class of 2018 Takes Its Place in Cooperstown
(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – The stage at the Clark Sports Center was filled like never before. And the Induction Site was brimming with 53,000 fans celebrating the Class of 2018 at the Hall of Fame.
It was baseball perfection in Cooperstown.
Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Jim Thome and Alan Trammell were inducted in front of 51 returning Hall of Famers on Sunday, bringing the total number of Hall of Famers in Cooperstown at Hall of Fame Weekend to a record 57.
The estimated crowd of 53,000 fans was the second-largest in history, trailing only the 82,000 fans that attended the 2007 induction of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken.
Jones led off the Induction Ceremony, with his wife, Taylor, sitting in the front row with his soon-to-be-born son. Taylor Jones’ due date is July 30.
“We decided to name him Cooper in honor of this occasion,” Jones said. “The last six years have been the best six years of my life. Taylor, you made me believe in love again. You changed me forever.”
The self-effacing Trammell recounted his 20 years with the Tigers, taking time to thank longtime double-play partner Lou Whitaker and former manager Sparky Anderson, among others.
“My mother would be extremely proud,” Trammell said. “I think back to the days we listened to baseball games on the radio, and she would tell me, ‘If you ever make it to the Major Leagues, I want you to be humble like my favorite player, Stan Musial.’ Well, Mom, I hope I did OK for you.”
Guerrero delivered his speech in Spanish, with interpreter Jose Mota on the stage to assist. He thanked Canada and the Montreal Expos for giving him his first taste of the big leagues, and thrilled the thousands of Dominican Republic fans in attendance at the Clark Sports Center.
“I know I don't speak a whole lot,” Guerrero said. “But let me tell you that I am so happy to be part of this group because some of them I saw and watched play and I witnessed it, but also I got to play against a lot of them. And it means a lot to me.”
Hoffman stepped to the podium as the fourth inductee and energized the Padres fans with a powerful speech focusing on the people who supported him during his career, including his family.
“It's not about who the world says I am, it's about who I am to my kids,” Hoffman said. “Thank you all for allowing me to share this beautiful day.”
Morris choked up from almost the first word of his speech, emotionally recounting his career.
“My life in baseball has been an incredible journey,” Morris said. “And I am grateful for everything.”
Thome wrapped up the two hour, 59 minute ceremony with another emotional speech.
“I'm so honored to be a part of something so special, something greater than the individual,” Thome said. “It’s been my great privilege to have played the game for as long as I did. In living the dream that is Major League Baseball, the best part is not the result, but taking the journey with the people whose contributions make it all possible.”
Other highlights from Sunday included:
**The 2018 Award Winners were acknowledged on the Induction Ceremony stage: Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Costas of MLB Network and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Sheldon Ocker, formerly of the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal. Transcripts of Saturday’s Awards Presentation speeches are available at www.baseballhall.org/media-info.
**Sunday’s estimated crowd of 53,000 fans at the Clark Sports Center marked the second-largest crowd in Induction Ceremony history behind only the record 82,000 fans who attended the 2007 Induction Ceremony. In four of the last five seasons, at least 48,000 fans have attended the Induction Ceremony.
**Lila Thome, the 15-year-old daughter of Class of 2018 inductee Jim Thome, delivered a beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Immediately following the last note, a teary-eyed Jim Thome walked across the Induction Stage and gave his daughter a hug.
**During the introduction of returning Hall of Famers, thunderous receptions came for several Hall of Famers, including a stirring tribute to Henry Aaron, who entered the stage to a standing ovation from his Hall of Fame brethren. A 57 Hall of Famers – including the Class of 2018 – took the stage in Cooperstown to participate in the Induction Ceremony. The previous record of Hall of Famers at an Induction Ceremony was 56 in 2008.
Transcripts of Sunday’s Induction Ceremony speeches of Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Jim Thome and Alan Trammell are available at www.baseballhall.org/media-info.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2019 Induction Weekend will take place July 19-22, with the Induction Ceremony scheduled for Sunday, July 21. For more information, please visit www.baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/future-eligibles.