The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline HOF class

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The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline HOF class
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Tom Glavine, left, Bobby Cox and Greg Maddux, right, hold their plaques after an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Tom Glavine, left, Bobby Cox, center, and Greg Maddux pose with their plaques following an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
Fans Scott Grazzilla, right, and Ashley Grazilla watch Greg Maddux on the big screen at Turner Field as he is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, before a baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres, Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Karen Clark of Athens, Tenn., holds a sign hours before the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Bobby Cox, left, and Tom Glavine talk during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tony La Russa speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Joe Torre, right, speaks with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, left, and hall member Hank Aaron during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductee Frank Thomas fights back tears during his speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Thomas hit 521 home runs and won two American League Most Valuable Player awards during his 19 year career. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas wipes away tears as he speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Greg Maddux speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
Actor Billy Crystal listens to a speaker during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Fans applaud during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux hold their plaques after an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, from left to right, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox hold their plaques after an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre hold their plaques after an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Joe Torre speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductee Tom Glavine (2L) poses for a photograph with his plaque with (L-R) Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark and MLB commissioner Bud Selig at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Glavine won 305 games and two National League Cy Young awards during his 22 year career. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductee Bobby Cox (2L) poses for a photograph with his plaque with (L-R) Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark and MLB commissioner Bud Selig at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Cox managed for 29 seasons with 2,504 victories and won five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series with the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductees, from left, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre pose with their plaques at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Glavine won 305 games and two National League Cy Young awards during his 22 year career. Maddux won 355 games and four consecutive National League Cy Young awards (1992-95) during his 23 year career. Thomas hit 521 home runs and won two American League Most Valuable Player awards during his 19 year career. Cox managed for 29 seasons with 2,504 victories and won five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series with the Atlanta Braves. La Russa managed for 33 seasons with 2,728 victories and led his teams to six pennants and three Worls Series titles. Torre managed for 29 seasons with 2,326 victories and led the New York Yankees to six American League pennants and four World Series titles. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductee Greg Maddux (2nd L) poses for a photograph with his plaque with (L-R) Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark and MLB commissioner Bud Selig at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Maddux won 355 games and four consecutive National League Cy Young awards (1992-95) during his 23 year career. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductee Greg Maddux (2L) poses for a photograph with his plaque with (L-R) Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark and MLB commissioner Bud Selig at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Maddux won 355 games and four consecutive National League Cy Young awards (1992-95) during his 23 year career. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: Inductee Frank Thomas gives his speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Thomas hit 521 home runs and won two American League Most Valuable Player awards during his 19 year career. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27: (L-R) Inductees Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux pose for a photograph at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, New York. Glavine won 305 games and two National League Cy Young awards during his 22 year career. Maddux won 355 games and four consecutive National League Cy Young awards (1992-95) during his 23 year career. Cox managed for 29 seasons with 2,504 victories and won five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series with the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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By JOHN KEKIS

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) - Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.

Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.

"I'm speechless. Thanks for having me in your club," Thomas said, getting emotional as he remembered his late father. "Frank Sr., I know you're watching. Without you, I know 100 percent I wouldn't be here in Cooperstown today. You always preached to me, 'You can be someone special if you really work at it.' I took that to heart, Pop."

"Mom, I thank you for all the motherly love and support. I know it wasn't easy."

The 46-year old Thomas, the first player elected to the Hall who spent more than half of his time as a designated hitter, batted .301 with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBIs in a 19-year career mostly with the Chicago White Sox. He's the only player in major league history to log seven straight seasons with a .300 average, 20 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 walks.

Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted

Ever the diplomat as a manager, Torre somehow managed to assuage the most demanding of owners in George Steinbrenner, maintaining his coolness amid all the Bronx craziness while keeping all those egos in check after taking over in 1996. The result: 10 division titles, six AL pennants and four World Series triumphs in 12 years as he helped restore the luster to baseball's most successful franchise and resurrected his own career after three firings.

Torre, the only man to amass more than 2,000 hits (2,342) and win more than 2,000 games as a manager, was last to speak, and in closing delivered a familiar message.

"Baseball is a game of life. It's not perfect, but it feels like it is," said the 74-year-old Torre, who apologized afterward for forgetting to include the Steinbrenner family in his speech. "That's the magic of it. We are responsible for giving it the respect it deserves. Our sport is part of the American soul, and it's ours to borrow - just for a while."

"If all of us who love baseball and are doing our jobs, then those who get the game from us will be as proud to be a part of it as we were. And we are. This game is a gift, and I am humbled, very humbled, to accept its greatest honor."

The day was a reunion of sorts for the city of Atlanta. Glavine, Maddux and Cox were part of a remarkable run of success by the Braves. They won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and made 15 playoff appearances, winning the city's lone major professional sports title.

"I'm truly humbled to stand here before you," Cox said. "To Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and I have to mention the third member of the big three - John Smoltz - I can honestly say I would not be standing here if it weren't for you guys."

Smoltz, part of the MLB Network telecast of the event and eligible for induction next year, flashed a smile in return for the compliment.

Glavine was on the mound when the Braves won Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series, pitching one-hit ball over eight innings in a 1-0 victory over Cleveland. And the slender lefty was one of those rare athletes, drafted by the Braves and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League.

"I had a difficult choice to make, and as a left-handed pitcher I thought that was the thing that would set me apart and make baseball the smartest decision," Glavine said. "Of course, I always wondered what would have happened had I taken up hockey."

"In my mind, since I was drafted ahead of two Hall of Famers in Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull, that obviously means I would have been a Hall of Famer in hockey, too," Glavine chuckled as the crowd cheered. "But I'm positive I made the right choice."

The 48-year-old Maddux went 355-227 with a career ERA of 3.16 in 23 seasons with the Braves, Cubs, Padres and Dodgers and ranks eighth on the career wins list. He won four straight Cy Young Awards in the 1990s and won 15 or more games for 17 straight seasons with his pinpoint control.

"I spent 12 years in Chicago, 11 in Atlanta, and both places are very special," Maddux said. "Without the experiences in both cities, I would not be standing here today."

La Russa, who ranks third in career victories as a manager with 2,728, behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw, was chosen manager of the year four times and won 12 division titles, six pennants and three World Series titles in stints with the White Sox, Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals.

La Russa spoke from the heart. There was no written speech.

"It's uncomfortable because I didn't make it as a player. Not even close," said La Russa, who made his big league debut as a teenage infielder with the 1963 Kansas City Athletics and appeared in just 132 games over six seasons, hitting .199 with no home runs. "Since December, I have not been comfortable with it. There's no way to mention everybody, and that bothers me."

"From managing parts of two years in the minor leagues, after thinking about all the other young managers who paid a lot of dues in the minor leagues and I get a chance and then I go into the big leagues with three organizations," he said. "All that equates to me is I'm very, very fortunate. I've never put my arms around the fact that being really lucky is a Hall of Fame credential."

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