07/28/2002 8:09 pm ET
Hall of Famers remember others
Forty-seven members attend ceremony
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - You'd be hard-pressed to find a legend who enjoyed coming to induction weekend more than Ted Williams. Until his health began to decline sharply in the late 1990s, Williams was a near yearly fixture in Cooperstown.
He soaked in his status as one of the game's immortals, and enjoyed revisiting the game's history with others in the Hall of Fame club.
Williams, who was inducted in 1966, never forgot the Hall of Fame. And in turn, the Hall of Fame made sure not to forget the Splendid Splinter during an induction that came less than a month after his death.
"The Red Sox lost a great American, a man who loved baseball, and a man who loved Cooperstown," said Cincinnati Reds broadcaster George Grande, the master of ceremonies.
Also remembered during the ceremony was Jack Buck, the Hall of Fame broadcaster and St. Louis fixture who died in June.
Some of his signature calls were re-captured on the big television screen, including 2002 inductee Ozzie Smith's game-winning homer "Go crazy folks, go crazy" in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS.
The witty "Teddy at the Bat" poem, written and narrated by Boston television personality Dick Flavin and unveiled at Ted Williams day at Fenway Park last week, was played on the big screen.
Then, there was a touching moment of silence, honoring the 70-plus members of the baseball family who have died since last year's induction. The names were listed in alphabetical order on the screen, with soft music in the background.
The silence was briefly lifted as Cardinals fans cheered at the sight of Darryl Kile's name. The right-hander shockingly died in June from blocked arteries in his heart.
Land of legends
One of the biggest highlights of induction day is always the introduction of the returning Hall of Famers, who sit on stage during the ceremony. There were a record-setting 47 back in Cooperstown, and Stan "the Man" Musial received the most thunderous ovation from a crowd that was filled with Cardinals worshippers.
During the "seventh-inning stretch" of the induction, Musial played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" on his harmonica.
The representation of greats was astounding. Just for fun, here is -- at least in this humble scribe's opinion -- the elite team of those on the stage.
Catcher, Johnny Bench; first base, Harmon Killebrew; second base, Bill Mazeroski; Shortstop, Luis Aparacio; Third base, Mike Schmidt; Outfield, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Musial. Starting rotation, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn and Steve Carlton; Closer, Rollie Fingers.
Think they'd win a few games?
Kalas in top form
Few people go into any Hall of Fame while they are still in their prime. But it's hard to hear any dropoff in the legendary voice of Harry Kalas, the broadcaster who was inducted as this year's Ford Frick award winner.
Kalas has been a Phillies broadcaster since 1971, and broke into the business 41 years ago. He was the Pennsylvania broadcaster of the year 17 times.
Kalas is one of few remaining broadcasters who is synonymous with his city. He joins active broadcasters Vin Scully (Los Angeles), Ernie Harwell (Detroit) in that respect, and nobody typified that type of announcer more than Buck.
To show his appreciation to Philadelphia fans, Kalas wrote a poem, which he read on stage.
One of the best lines was, "Your loyalty is unsurpassed, be the 'fightin's' in first or last.'"
The poem ended with, "We feel your passion through and though Philadelphia fans, I love you."
Ralph Branca is best known for surrendering the home run to Bobby Thomson that clinched the 1951 pennant for the Giants. However, he has long represented the game with class. Branca sang the national anthem at the beginning of the induction ceremony. ... The annual Hall of Fame Game takes place at Doubleday Field on Monday, at 2 p.m. ET. This year's participants are the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago White Sox. Both teams were expected in to Cooperstown Sunday night, and were going to take a tour of the Hall of Fame upon arriving. ... Already looking ahead to next year's induction? The most intriguing new entries to the ballot will be Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor and Lee Smith.
Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for MLB.com, can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.