Pride, goodwill abound at HOF gala
Former stars Vaughn, Greenwell take place in Red Sox lore
BOSTON -- Though it was an evening to celebrate Red Sox players of past eras, the men who were inducted into the team's Hall of Fame on Friday were thrilled to do so amid a time period that might one day be looked at as the golden years of the franchise.
Mo Vaughn, the headline member of the six players who were inducted at a gala at a Boston hotel, won the American League Most Valuable Player Award for the Red Sox in 1995. He played in the postseason that year, as well as '98, his final year with the team.
However, there is no sting in his voice about not winning a championship during his playing career. Instead, he beams about what the Red Sox do these days.
Vaughn was thrilled to see the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and '07. The team has set a standard of excellence in recent years, going to the AL Championship Series four times in the past six years.
"The Red Sox's ownership and baseball operations are doing a great job," said Vaughn. "They are doing it the right way. They are building from within, they have young guys like Jon Lester coming up. There's a lot of that happening. It's fun to be on the side that's making all the right decisions, and it's working out."
Inducted along with Vaughn was former teammate Mike Greenwell. In fact, Greenwell spent his entire career (1985-96) in a Boston uniform.
"They're the type of organization, you can tell they take care of the people," Greenwell said. "They take care of the people that matter -- and not just the players on the field. They've really made a great organization and they've made some great decisions. [General manager] Theo [Epstein] has obviously made some great decisions at key times and getting the best value for his players when they leave. As a young GM, he's just done a wonderful job. He's wise beyond his years, that's for sure."
Others to go into the team's Hall of Fame: left-hander Bill Lee, 94-68 for the Red Sox; the late Wes Ferrell, 62-40 from 1934-37; the late Everett Scott, shortstop on the championship teams of 1915, '16 and '18; right-hander Frank Sullivan, 90-80 from 1953-60; George Digby, a scout for the Sox for 50 years; and Edward Kenney Sr., the late executive who spent 40 years with the team.
For Vaughn and Greenwell, who had a memorable fight in the batting cage before a game in 1991 only to become good friends later, it meant something to go in together.
"It's tremendous," Vaughn said. "To be a part of this is a great thing. There's a lot of great players who have played for the Boston Red Sox. It's a great thing to be inducted -- especially with this cast. We've had some great people who have done some great things."
The one thing Greenwell takes enormous pride in is that the Red Sox are the only team that can be found on the back of his baseball card.
"You realize it's one great family," said Greenwell, who batted .303 with 130 homers and 726 RBIs over 1,269 games. "There have been so many great players to put on Red Sox uniforms. Probably what I'm most proud of is that I've never put on another Major League uniform. The only one I ever had on had Red Sox on it. I'm proud of that."
Vaughn didn't have the same chance, leaving as a free agent to go to the Angels for three seasons and then finishing his career with two seasons for the New York Mets.
However, Vaughn, who hit .304 with 230 homers in 1,046 games in Boston, feels like a Red Sox. The success the Hit Dog had playing full-time at Fenway was never duplicated in Anaheim or New York.
"I played here for eight seasons," Vaughn said. "Whatever name Mo Vaughn made was made here, on all levels. When people see me in the street, they don't say, 'Mo Vaughn was great with the Mets and the Angels.' They say, 'He was great with the Red Sox.' Fans, friends and the Red Sox organization are what made that. I'm happy. It's a good day today."
A pillar in the community during his time with the Red Sox, it isn't surprising that Vaughn is now operating a successful business building low-income housing. Though most of his work has been done in New York, Vaughn will soon extend his business to the Greater Boston area.
"I never thought it was going to get this big so fast," said Vaughn. "It's a lot of hard work. It's been a great ride and hopefully I'll continue to be successful with it. And luckily we'll be able to get up here and do some stuff here. Right now, we're in a contract to hopefully close a deal on Nov. 18. We'll have three deals in the Greater Boston area. I guess I really wanted to come back when it was significant."
Greenwell had his own success in real estate in the Fort Myers, Fla., area, but now is proud to be "100 percent retired".
"I'm proud of the fact that I made more money out of the game than I did in it," Greenwell said.
There is also an enormous amount of pride for Greenwell -- a grinder every step of the way -- to have a permanent plaque as a Red Sox Hall of Famer.
"[I'm] a little overwhelmed," said Greenwell. "I was talking to my kids about this the other day. When you're playing, you're working so hard to be successful, and I had to play that way. That was the only way I could be successful. I look back now and look at my numbers and some of the things I did, I kind of smiled a little and said, 'I must have been pretty good.' That's a good feeling."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.