“Good afternoon. First, I want to thank you all for coming to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I know you have a choice of museums when you visit Cooperstown, so thank you for choosing this one. Frankly, I don’t know how you could pass up the 18th-century Dutch-style plow at the nearby Farmers’ Museum, but pass it up you did! As an aside, I will tell you that I once got ‘18th-century plowed’ by drinking a liter of elixir d’absynthe to treat a serious case of dropsy. I mean I got drunk, 1700s-style. I did not get – what’s the word? – ‘copulated.’
“In any case, I also want to say that I am truly humbled by this honor. I want to say it because everybody says it. Then again, I don’t know why people say it. I mean, humbled? If anything, I should be de-humbled. I’d be humbled if my two-week-old kitten were to beat me in Greco-Roman wrestling. I’d be humbled if you pointed at my crotch and laughed, as if to say, ‘What cruel twist of fate is this that should visit upon a red-blooded American male such a tragic deficiency?’
“But humbled by getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? Screw that noise. Seriously, you should see my new vanity plate: “CPRSTWN.” I guess the plate’s only downside is that it can be misconstrued. For example, after pulling up behind me at a stoplight, Ronde Barber came to my window and asked if I could revive his brother’s career.
“I also want to say that this honor is truly an honor. Here I am, alongside the Ruths, the Cobbs, the Fingerses. Is that right? ‘Fingerses?’ Here I am! – in the same breath with the Mayses and the Kalines, though not in the same breath as the Mazeroskis and the Yastrzemskis, as that would require, like, two breaths. Please note, however, that I did not take two breaths just now. The reason is that I have been practicing this speech since I was nine years old, mostly underwater.
“Of course, what’s most amazing about this honor – and here I think you’ll agree – is that I never played major league baseball. So, why am I standing before you today? All I can say is that the Veterans Committee has done its homework. There was this one time: My brother is on the mound, and by ‘mound’ I mean the part of the yard between the sticker patch and the clothesline. Yeah, clothesline. We didn’t have a dryer, OK? But we did have three hot meals a day, though I must say that fire-roasted iceberg lettuce with steamy ranch dressing was not my favorite.
“Anyway, my brother is pitching, and he throws this wicked curveball-screwball thing. I mean, that Wiffle ball looks like Stevie Wonder’s remote-controlled airplane! But I stand my ground and whack it all the way over the alley. And as you can plainly see, my brother is not being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today. So that’s cool. I am totally de-humbled by it.
“Then there was that time in high school. Maybe you heard about it. I’m at shortstop, and I make this diving stab and double up the runner at third. Coach says, ‘That’s a big league play!’ So, yeah, the Committee has done its homework. What sucks is that the Committee never did my homework. I’m still trying to get my GED, which isn’t easy because I am busy writing for a serious baseball blog. We have to do our own spelling.
“In conclusion, I’d like to say I have always dreamed this would happen. Always in my wildest imagination did I think that this would come true.”
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.