COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Gil Hodges and David Ortiz highlighted a National Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2022 that was inducted Sunday, and will see their plaques hung forever on the walls of Cooperstown.
Hodges, who was represented by his daughter Irene, was one of the best hitting first basemen of the 1950s and managed the 1969 “Miracle Mets” to a World Series championship before succumbing to a heart attack in early 1972.
Ortiz, a name familiar to many an AL East fan, was voted into the Hall on his first ballot, becoming the first player whose primary position was designated hitter to do so. He led the Boston Red Sox to three World Series championships in his time with the team, including the one that broke the franchise’s 86-year title drought in 2004.
Also inducted were Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, the two other living inductees alongside Ortiz, and posthumously Minnie Miñoso, who many call the Latin American Jackie Robinson, and Buck O’Neil, a legendary Negro League player and manager whom Hall’s lifetime achievement award is named after.
The final member of the class of ’22 is Cooperstown native Bud Fowler, born John W. Jackson, who was born in White Plains, NY in 1858 and moved to Cooperstown at the age of seven. He is largely believed to be the first African-American to play organized professional baseball, playing his first professional game almost 70 years prior to Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. Fowler died in 1913 and is buried in Frankfort, NY’s Oak View Cemetery.
Induction weekend began on Friday, July 22nd with the, “Play Ball with Ozzie Smith,” fundraiser, and concluded the morning of July 25th with the “Legends of the Game Roundtable,” where this year’s inductees spoke about Sunday’s ceremony. The “Parade of Legends,” which included over 40 current Hall of Famers was held on Saturday, all of that leading up to the induction itself on Sunday.
Inspiration seemed to be the theme of the weekend, but perhaps nothing was as inspiring as the final sentence of “Big Papi’s” acceptance speech when he said, “When you believe in someone you can change their world, you can change their future, just like so many people who believed in me.”