David Ortiz, Jim Kaat, and Tony Oliva speak to the media ahead of their induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WBNG) - It’s induction weekend in Cooperstown as the Baseball Hall of Fame will officially induct seven new members on Sunday. Ahead of the ceremony, some of this year’s inductees had media availability today to tell some stories from their careers.
David Ortiz was among them as he’s being inducted into the Hall of Fame after a career that spanned 20 years where he played for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins.
In his career, Ortiz was one of the greatest power hitters in history as he hit over 540 home runs and 1,700 RBIs in his career. Those numbers helped lead the Red Sox to three World Series titles including in 2004 when the team snapped the organization’s 86-year championship drought.
Today, as he looked back on his career, it was his teammates that stuck out to him most.
“I tried to always have my teammates back and they feel me back with the same thing. That’s why you’re going to see so many of them out there tomorrow. This is a fraternity the same way it goes here in Cooperstown with all these Hall of Famers. That what you see going on here, we build it up on the field with our careers,” said Ortiz. “You need to be a good teammate. You got to be able to let them know that you’re always going to be there for them. It’s your second family.”
Following Ortiz was former pitcher Jim Kaat. The left hander pitched for 25 seasons in the major leagues for six different teams including the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals.
Kaat is tied for the second most Gold Gloves in history with 16. He was a three time All-Star and won the 1982 World Series as a member of the Cardinals bullpen.
Once it was announced that he was elected to the hall, there was one phone call that stood out.
“I got a call from Willa Allen. Willa Allen is Dick’s widow. Dick Allen and I were like joined at the hip. We were teammates in Chicago. He learned the game from Gene Mauch,” said Kaat. “We used to sit and talk baseball, we used to go to the horse races together. If they could’ve voted for five of us I think Dick would’ve gotten in.”
The third player to take the stage was none other than former Minnesota Twins outfielder Tony Oliva.
The Cuban born right fielder was one of the most consistent hitters of his time as he won the batting title in his first two seasons in the bigs, in 1964 and 1965. He was the first player to achieve that feat.
He was an 8-time All-Star and also earned AL Rookie of the Year honors in his first season, but when he started his career Cooperstown didn’t even seem like a possibility.
“I never expected to come to America to play baseball. My goal was to play baseball in Cuba in the winter baseball league with one of those teams that played in Havana,” said Oliva. “But because I grew up in the country I didn’t have any goals to come to America to play. After one guy, a scout from the Minnesota Twins offered me the opportunity to come to America.”
The official induction will take place on Sunday in Cooperstown.
Copyright 2022 WBNG. All rights reserved.