|Gwynn pinpoints his Hall of Fame moment, knew he had a shot at Cooperstown|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 July 2007 13:08|
Not Tony Gwynn. At his induction Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the former San Diego Padres star pinpointed the exact moment - Aug. 6, 1993.
``It's my mother's birthday, and that was the day I got to 2,000 (hits),'' Gwynn said. ``In my mind, I knew I had a thousand more to go. Getting to 3,000 was going to give me the best shot, I thought, at getting me where I needed to go.''
Gwynn got his 3,000th hit exactly six years later.
``I had a chance to get here but wasn't sure, but that day it dawned on me - 'You know what, you've had a pretty good career, people have enjoyed what you've done,' `` Gwynn said. ``For me, what a day that was, a lot like today.
``I never really looked at what I did as being anything special. I really loved the game. I think that's why you guys are here today. You love the game,'' Gwynn told a record crowd estimated at 75,000. ``You have a passion for it. I have a passion for it. I still have a passion for it. I just don't play anymore.''
DOERR'S MOMENT: Red Sox Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr received a nice tribute from the Hall of Fame after Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. made their induction speeches.
After a brief video montage of his playing days, the man Ted Williams once called the ``silent captain of the Red Sox'' answered a few questions.
Who was the best he played against?
``Joe DiMaggio,'' Doerr said. ``When you think of Joe playing 13 seasons and getting to 10 World Series, that says something. He was the perfect ballplayer.''
Doerr also recalled one of Williams' shining moments, a game-winning homer for the American League at the 1942 All-Star Game in Detroit, and had high praise for Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who was among the 55 Hall of Famers on the podium.
Feller, a star right-hander for the Cleveland Indians, sacrificed some of his early baseball years to serve in the armed forces during World War II.
``I always admired Bob,'' Doerr said. ``He was the first one to enlist.''
ONE-TEAM MEN: Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. represent the first Hall of Fame class of inductees to have played their entire careers for just one team since Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski in 1989.
Is it the end of an era?
``I think most players who play in the big leagues would love to have the stability that Tony and I have been able to enjoy,'' said Ripken, who thought about leaving the Baltimore Orioles after his dad was fired as manager in 1988. ``It's not always easy because the nature of the sport is to change. It was always important for me to play in Baltimore. It was the stability that I was searching for. A lot of times you're thinking when you're negotiating a contract that money is the only factor. But I think a lot of people would enjoy the stability of being at home, living in your house, being part of that community.''
Gwynn played for seven managers with the Padres.
``I loved being a San Diego Padre,'' Gwynn said. ``And I took a lot of heat for not thinking about leaving, for always signing extensions, and I really didn't worry about it. I was happy where I was.''
Among possible future Hall of Famers currently playing, shortstop Derek Jeter and reliever Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros stand out as possible candidates to join that select group.
GOOD-BYE STREAK: Umpire attendant Ernie Tyler voluntarily ended his consecutive games streak at 3,769 to be present at Cal Ripken Jr.'s Hall of Fame induction on Sunday.
The 83-year-old Tyler hadn't missed a Baltimore Orioles home game since assuming the position on opening day in 1960. But when Ripken invited him to come for his induction and paid the bill for the trip, Tyler skipped the two Orioles' games against the Yankees.
``He's excited,'' said former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, now executive vice president of baseball operations for the team. ``He's not used to being away from Camden Yards. They usually don't let him out very often. He's a Baltimore icon.''
Tyler said he couldn't turn down the offer because of his relationship with the Ripken family. Still, it was a bittersweet moment for Cal Jr., who played in a major-league-record 2,632 straight games before voluntarily ending the streak in 1998.
``There's a little bit of sadness that comes over me that he chose to come, but there's a great sense of happiness inside that he's picking this event to actually do it,'' Ripken said. ``I just thought Ernie comes with the stadium. I'm very honored.''
BY THE NUMBERS: If numbers are a barometer, baseball is thriving.
Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey announced Sunday that 717,000 people attended games on Saturday, the largest number in history. And another 14,000 visited the Hall of Fame, the largest single-day attendance in its 68-year history.
The estimated crowd of 75,000 that showed up for Sunday's induction of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. easily eclipsed the previous mark of 50,000 set in 1999 when Robin Yount, Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Orlando Cepeda were inducted.
STARSTRUCK: Among the record crowd that attended Sunday's Hall of Fame indications of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. were four actors who were guests of Ripken: John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, Richard Gere, and Lynda Carter.