You would think the first player unanimously voted into the Hall by the Baseball Writers' Association of America would get to give the first speech at the MLB’s Hall Of Fame Ceremonies.
But this weekend, the greatest closer the game has ever seen was content to do that one more time—have the final say.
Rivera, the career saves leader, was greeted by chants of his name from the adoring crowd, as he stepped up to the podium in a fitting close to yesterday’s ceremony. He spoke in both English and, at the end, in Spanish, rarely looking down at the speech he had prepared.
Rivera and fellow closer Lee Smith, starters Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay, and DH’s Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines were honored yesterday in Cooperstown, in front of an estimated 55,000 fans—the second-largest for an induction ceremony.
Halladay, of course, could not be in attendance, but his wife Brandy gave a tearful speech reflecting on the accomplishments of her late husband. The mother of two boys fought back tears as she spoke for her late husband, saying "I know how honored Roy would be to be sitting here with such accomplished men,” adding, “This is not my speech to give.''
A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Halladay amassed a 203-105 record in a 16-year career with Toronto and Philadelphia. He became just the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in the postseason, opening the 2010 National League Division Series with one against the Cincinnati Reds in the first playoff start of his career. He also pitched a perfect game that season. Halladay was elected in his first year on the ballot.
The late Frank Robinson and Willie McCovey were honored with a moment of silence before Mussina was introduced to start the ceremony. The two Hall of Famers died since last year's induction ceremony.