Baseball’s Hall of Fame inducted six new members — pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, slugger Frank Thomas, and managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox — and a crowd of about 48,000 was on hand in Cooperstown, N.Y., to hear them talk about the honor.
Thomas’s speech was easily the emotional highlight of the day. To hear the big man tell it, he wasn’t necessarily planning for that to be the case. Here is what Thomas told mlb.com:
“So for me today, to be honest with you, I was Cool Hand Luke sitting there watching everyone’s speeches. As soon as I stood up, my knees started knocking and the first thing I looked at was my mom. It hit me right in my heart. My mom hadn’t left Columbus, Ga., in 15 years. She was here today, so I just started crying.”
Thomas was clearly emotional when he stepped to the podium, asking the crowd, “Give me a second,” and drawing a deep breath. He got through some words of appreciation for the Hall of Fame committee and members, but as soon as he started discussing his family, he struggled to regain composure.
Thomas then teared up while remembering his first agent, Robert Fraley, who was killed in the 1999 plane crash that also took the life of golfer Payne Stewart. Here is video of Thomas’s speech, which went well past its allotted 10 minutes.
If you stayed with clip until the end, you heard Thomas do an epic amount of name-checking, including a rapid-fire “verbal montage” of former teammates’ nicknames. According to Business Insider, the slugger called out at least 139 names.
Frank Thomas breaks a record for most teammates remembered/thanked during a HOF speech. Shatters old record by 87 names.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) July 27, 2014
Ironically, Torre’s speech was noteworthy in part because of a name he didn’t mention.
Torre did include the legendary Yankees owner in an anecdote about getting hired. But his speech, which was easily the longest of the day, left out any elaboration on Steinbrenner. Torre later said he wished that Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, had been around to remind him of the omission.
“That would have made me feel better,” Torre told the Newark Star-Ledger with a smile. “He’d have yelled at me. ‘You ungrateful such and such and such!’ “
Torre did have some amusing tales, a couple of which are included in this collection of lighthearted moments from Sunday, which also features LaRussa, Cox and Glavine.
For his part, Maddux contributed to the merriment by telling a fart joke.