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07/26/09 7:41 PM EST

Peters' dream career capped with Hall

Cooperstown the perfect ending for Spinks Award winner

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Nick Peters had some pretty tough acts to follow Sunday, but he was there because he's a grinder, and he did what he did best.

The recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 2009 J.G. Taylor Spinks Award for meritorious contributions as a baseball writer, Peters closed the show in Cooperstown, moved from the start of the program to the end when organizers flip-flopped the schedule under the threat of rain.

Lesser -- and more self-important -- men might have chafed at having to deliver a speech in response to the crowning achievement of a career in the wake of moving tributes to the late Joe Gordon, Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson -- the Class of 2009's inductees. He also had to follow a snappy off-the-cuff speech by Ford C. Frick Award-winning broadcaster Tony Kubek.

No problem for Peters. Known as "The Greek" to his Bay Area brethren, he has 47 years of working on deadline under his belt. He doesn't do daunted.

What he did was deliver a self-deprecating portrait of a man humbled to have been paid to do something he loved for nearly half a century.

"I'm extremely grateful and humbled to be here with all these great players I covered," Peters said, turning to acknowledge the 50 Hall of Famers seated behind him. "A reporter is never supposed to be part of the story, so I'm a little uncomfortable."

He didn't look it. Peters was fine with bringing up the rear, saying it helped calm his nerves to watch the two-plus hours of presentation before his big moment.

The author of five books, Peters spent most of his entire career in Northern California. He attended City College of San Francisco and San Jose State before covering the San Francisco Seals, and when the Giants came to town in 1958, he took over that beat.

"Curiously, that last Seals team was managed by Joe Gordon," Peters noted.

He went on to cover the Giants longer than any man in history, but he also frequently hopped across the San Francisco Bay to write about the A's.

His California dream was interrupted only when he was drafted into the Army and assigned to a post in Alaska, where he won two awards for sportswriting.

"I beat out two Eskimos and sled-dog team," he said. "Best of all, on a clear day, I was able to see Russia."

Accompanied by his wife, daughter and three granddaughters, Peters sprinkled his speech with the kind of tidbits that all great baseball writers enjoy sharing. The best of the bunch: He and Phil Neikro were born on the same day, in 1939, which is the year that the Hall of Fame opened its doors.

The most poignant part of Peters' speech came when he talked of his late father, whose influence on Peters' love for the game was subtle and mostly unspoken.

"We never played catch, we never talked about the game and we only went to one game together," Peters said.

But what an impact that game -- at old Seals Stadium -- had.

"He came from his native Greece ... to live the 'American Dream,'" Peters said. "I'm not sure he lived it, but he made sure my sister and I did."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.