Induction weekends at the Hall have provided plenty of memorable moments
By Jonathan Mayo
For the past 61 years, thousands have gathered in Cooperstown, N.Y., each summer to watch the greatest players in baseball convene and welcome a few more into their fraternity.
This year's Hall of Fame inductions, No. 62 if you're scoring at home, will bring Bill Mazeroski, Kirby Puckett, Hilton Smith and Dave Winfield into the fold. As with each and every Hall of Fame weekend, it's sure to provide fans with a host of memorable moments.
Every fan has a favorite Hall of Famer, and a top induction weekend memory. What's your pick? E-mail us
your favorite induction moment.
What's the best part of induction weekend? Is it seeing all the living greats of the game?
You'll see plenty at this year's inductions. Forty-three Hall of Famers are expected to attend the ceremonies to honor Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Bill Mazeroski and Hilton Smith. Including those four men, the Hall of Fame has 61 living members. Where else can you see 70 percent of all living Hall of Famers in one place?
Of course, if you had made the trip to Cooperstown last year, you would have seen 48
of the all-time greats. That's the highest total of Hall of Famers ever at an induction.
The induction ceremonies have really become a popular event for former players over the last 30 years or so. Thirty or more have attended every year since 1991. Since 1969, there have been at least 20 Hall of Famers each induction weekend. Prior to that, attendance was sporadic.
Only eight Hall of Famers showed up in 1967, and six in 1966, but there were 22 on hand in 1965. And it seems the star power of each class has little to do with attendance. The 48 who came last year saw Carlton Fisk, Tony Perez, Sparky Anderson, Turkey Stearnes and Bid McPhee join them in the Hall. But in 1999, when Cooperstown welcomed a seemingly more marquee draw of Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount and Orlando Cepeda, there were 38 fellow members on hand. And back in '65, when the then high of 22 showed up? Pud Galvin was the one and only inductee, a veterans' committee addition.
Then there was 1946. The Veterans Committee did all of the inducting that year, giving plaques to 11 players, including that famed double-play team Tinkers to Evers to Chance. There were no Hall of Famers at that induction ceremony.
Which Hall of Famers like to attend the inductions? The late Charlie Gehringer never liked to miss one, and is still the all-time leader with 31 induction ceremonies attended. But people are gaining on him. Both Bob Feller and Stan Musial are expected to attend this year's inductions, which will move them each one closer to Gehringer. Feller will make his 30th appearance, while Musial's will be his 28th.
Words with impact
Part of the appeal of induction weekend is hearing what your heroes have to say upon reaching this pinnacle of achievement. Possibly the most famous, or at least important, induction speech came from Ted Williams in 1966. In his address, Williams expressed a hope that the stars of the Negro Leagues -- those who were talented enough, but weren't allowed
to play Major League Baseball for all or most of their careers because of the color barrier -- would be accepted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
His words had an impact. In 1971, Satchel Paige became the first Negro Leagues player inducted into the Hall. He was followed by Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard in 1972. A Negro Leaguer has been added to the Hall just about every year since.
Have you missed out on some of the induction speeches of Hall of Famers past? Now's your chance to listen to some history, courtesy of the Hall of Fame. Here is a selection of past Hall of Fame induction speeches:
Orlando Cepeda, 1998
Johnny Bench, 1989
Joe Morgan, 1990
Red Barber, 1978 Ford Frick Honoree
Mel Allen, 1978 Ford Frick Honoree
will be airing additional highlights from Hall of Fame ceremonies past all week long.
Jonathan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com based in New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.