Pulls Into Cooperstown Today
Yount, left, Nolan Ryan, center, and George Brett were
elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot this year
(1999). They will be inducted today (July 25,
By Ben Walker
(July 25, 1999)
- One last stop for the Ryan Express.
Nolan Ryan, who
played longer than anyone in major-league history and surely
frightened more hitters than any other pitcher, will take
his place in the Hall of Fame today as a humble Texan.
this is the final chapter of my career," Ryan said.
"Its the highest honor."
Cepeda, and George Brett and Robin Yount, part of the 3,000
hit club and the greatest players of their franchises, will
join Ryan in a parade of seven for the induction ceremonies.
Cooperstown class since 1972 also includes late umpire
Nestor Chylak, Negro league's ace Smokey Joe Williams and
19th-century manager Frank Selee.
A record crowd
of more than 40,000 is expected to jam this quiet village of
2,300 where baseball is believed to have originated. A
record 39 Hall of Famers, among them Ted Williams, Hank
Aaron and Bob Feller, are expected to attend.
festivities wrap up Monday with the annual Hall exhibition
game. Appropriately, it matches Ryan's Texas
Rangers against Brett's Kansas City Royals at Doubleday
of it falls into place as it was scripted that way,"
said Yount, who got his 3,000th hit for Milwaukee three
weeks before Brett reached the milestone.
Brett was unquestionably my favorite player to watch play.
And Nolan Ryan is one of the all-time great pitchers the
game has ever seen. And Orlando Cepeda was one
of the game's great hitters of the 1960's. It really
is amazing that we all can go in together."
"To hear those words - 'Hall of Famer' — and know I'm
one of them ... it means so many things to me."
And seeing is
believing, Ryan said.
walk into the Hall and you look at the plaques and the
displays there with all the great players like Ruth, Gehrig,
Cy Young, Walter Johnson and those guys, and they show you
where your plaque is going to hang, you realize that you are
going to be thought of on that level.
career, I didn't give much thought to it," Ryan said.
"When I went up there and saw where I stood all-time
— the wins, innings pitched and strikeout lists and being the
all-time walk leader — it was nice to see. Then
to walk by the no-hit display, it was really
of Ryan's accomplishments onto one bronze plaque won't be
He held or
shared more than 50 records when he retired in 1993,
including most no-hitters (7) and strikeouts (5,714).
324-292 in a 27-year career with the Mets, Angels, Astros
and Rangers. A special assistant to the Rangers
president, he will enter the Hall wearing a Texas cap.
incidentally, struck out 28 Hall of Famers, including Brett,
Yount and Cepeda.
Fitting all the
plaques into the main gallery at 25 Main Street, meanwhile,
presented another problem.
newcomers raised the total Hall membership to 244.
Going into this year's votes — the Baseball Writers'
Association of America election in January and the Veterans
Committee meeting in March — there was space for only 240
plaques to be properly displayed.
So, for now, the last
three spots will go to the first three players picked this
year — Brett, Ryan and Yount.
The other four
plaques will hang through next summer in an adjacent rotunda
that houses a home-run chase exhibit. After that, an
expansion will make room for everyone.
family and about 150 people from Texas were to arrive in
upstate New York on, fittingly, "Nolan Ryan
Express," a plane in the Southwest Airlines fleet that
was dedicated to him in January.
Brett and Yount
also were expected to bring large contingents. And
Chylak, who died in 1982, was to have 20 busloads of
supporters from his native Northeast Pennsylvania.
Robin — named for Yount — was to attend. Robin turned
3 on the day Brett and Yount were elected to the Hall.
the guy I most enjoyed playing against in my entire
career," Brett said.
13-time All-Star third baseman, hit .305 in a 21-year career
spent entirely in Kansas City. He is 13th with 3,154
hits and tops the Royal's list in hits, doubles, triples,
home runs (317), RBIs (1,595) and runs.
player and 1960 AL MVP, Brett led the Royals to their only
World Series championship in 1985.
put Kansas City on the map," said former teammate David
Cone, who pitched a perfect game last Sunday for the
came, Kansas City was only known for the Negro leagues and
the Monarchs and as a farm team for the Yankees.
George Brett made it credible, a big-league town," he
15th on the hits list with 3,142. He played in 1982 as
shortstop and 1989 in center field, joining Stan Musial and
Hank Greenberg as the only players to win at two positions.
played most of his career with the San Francisco Giants, hot
379 home runs with 1,365 RBIs. An NL rookie of the
year and MVP at first base, he played in nine All-Star
Chylak is one
of eight umpires in the Hall. He worked in the AL from
1954-78 and called five World Series and six All-Star games.
Selee, one of
15 managers enshrined, guided Boston and Chicago to a .598
winning percentage in the NL. He put together the
Cubs' famed Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance infield.
starred for the Homestead Grays and several other teams
before retiring in 1932, was picked in the 1952 poll by the
Pittsburgh Courier as black baseball's greatest pitcher,
edging out Satchel Paige.