COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Tom Seaver’s daughter, Sarah Seaver Zaske, was among those who made the trip to represent the Mets for Gil Hodges’ long-awaited induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
“Cooperstown always has been a special place for my family. Dad always used to love coming here. I know he appreciated how much Gil did for his career,” Seaver Zaske said before the ceremony. “He always used to say he took a little bit of advice from Gil every time he took the mound.
“When Gil was elected, Tom was always such an advocate, and I know he would want to be here. I wanted to be here to pay homage to Gil Hodges.”
Tom Seaver, the Mets legend who was elected to the Hall in 1992, died in 2020. Four of his World Series-winning teammates from 1969 — Cleon Jones, Ed Kranepool, Art Shamsky and Ron Swoboda — and Tommie Agee’s widow Maxcine and daughter J’nelle also were in attendance.
To deafening chants of “Papi, Papi” from Red Sox fans and flag-waving supporters from his native Dominican Republic, David Ortiz was the final inductee of the day.
“Wow, Cooperstown!” Ortiz shouted at the start of a 20-minute speech that alternated between English and Spanish. “This path has allowed me to be here today, and hopefully inspired everyone to believe in yourself. When you believe in someone, you can change their world.”
The three-time World Series winner’s two game-winning hits extra innings in the 2004 ALCS comeback against the Yankees are among the achievements listed on Ortiz’s Hall of Fame plaque.
Ortiz’s 21-year-old daughter Alex sang the national anthem.
One year after his induction ceremony, Derek Jeter tweeted that he was “very disappointed” to be unable to attend because “unfortunately my family is dealing with a Covid situation.”
With an assist to Amy Klobuchar, the U.S. Senator from Minnesota, Juan Carlos Oliva obtained the visa he needed to travel from Cuba to the Unites States to see his brother Tony Oliva enshrined Sunday in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Tony Oliva was the last MLB player to leave Cuba with the government’s permission before Fidel Castro’s regime closed the island to and from the U.S. in the early 1960s. Juan Carlos Oliva and their parents never saw Tony play in person in the majors.
“I’m very happy that my family and my brother, who came from Cuba and who played baseball for Team Cuba, was able to come,” Tony Oliva said. “He came from Cuba to Santo Domingo, from Santo Domingo to the United States and [was] reunited with my family here.”
In his acceptance speech, Oliva stumped for countryman Luis Tiant to be inducted by the Golden Era committee. Inductee Jim Kaat added “it’s a travesty” that 287-game winner Tommy John also isn’t in the Hall. “Is any pitcher more famous than Tommy John?” Kaat said, referring to the elbow surgery that bears John’s name.
Hall of Famer Dave Winfield gave the acceptance speech for inductee Bud Fowler, who was the first known black player to integrate a professional baseball team in the 1870s. … Negro Leagues legend and longtime major-league scout Buck O’Neil was inducted by niece Dr. Angela Terry.