Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame inducts 10 inaugural members
The Lookout Adviser
Detroit Tigers legends, high school coaches and Lansing’s own John Smoltz were among the 10 inaugural inductees into the new Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 6.
The new hall is dedicated to players, coaches, teams and contributors representing the foremost in achievement and lasting impact, from little league to the Major Leagues.
A ceremony to honor the inductees took place in The View, a new outfield restaurant at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing. The ballpark is home to the Lansing Lugnuts, and now also to the plaques honoring the Hall of Fame members.
The inductees enshrined Aug. 6 are: former Detroit Tigers Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, Al Kaline, Bill Freehan and Alan Trammell; former Major League pitcher and University of Michigan star Jim Abbott; Lansing Waverly graduate and long-time Atlanta Braves pitcher Smoltz; Detroit Tigers broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell; veteran Grand Ledge baseball coach Pat O’Keefe; and long-time Blissfield baseball coach Larry Tuttle.
Both Tuttle and O’Keefe were present to accept their Hall of Fame trophies and unveil their plaques. Both have won over 1,000 games as high school baseball coaches.
None of the other inductees were present for various reasons. Newhouser, Gehringer and Harwell are deceased. Freehan’s health did not allow him to attend. Smoltz was busy with broadcasting duties for the MLB Network.
Family members from the Gehringer, Freehan and Smoltz families participated in the festivities. Videotaped thank-you messages from Kaline, Abbott, Smoltz and Trammell were played during the dinner ceremony.
“Any time you are elected into a hall of fame, my gosh, it’s a special honor,” long-time Tigers shortstop Trammell said in his video clip. “It’s a very humbling experience and I’m very appreciative.”
The plaques celebrating the accomplishments of the 10 Hall of Famers are located in the new centerfield concourse at Cooley Stadium. The plaques were unveiled, one at a time, prior to the Lugnuts game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Local TV and radio personality Tim Staudt serve as master of ceremonies.
Tom Dickson, co-owner of the Lugnuts with Sherrie Myers, said he and members of his staff began discussing the idea of forming a Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame about a year ago.
“Our first reaction was, ‘Oh, there’s got to be one of those,’” Dickson recalled. “But as it turned out, we looked around and there wasn’t one of them for the state of Michigan.
“The history of baseball in the state is so incredible, so the fact that there wasn’t one, and frankly the fact that we had the opportunity to do one, struck us as pretty cool.
“We didn’t waste a lot of time to go out and talk to some folks, and announce that we were going to do it. We are so excited to be here, about a year later, to kick off the inaugural class.”
Dickson said the mission of the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame, which as officially formed Jan. 28, 2015, is threefold: to honor the state’s baseball heroes; to celebrate the national pastime; and to inspire baseball fans and players of tomorrow.
The 10 inaugural inductees were selected by a committee of nine men who have contributed to baseball’s lore in Michigan over the years. The committee included Staudt, Fred Heumann, Mario Impemba, Paul Carey, Rich Maloney, Mark Uyl, Clyde Weir, Joe Block and Jake Boss Sr.
For more information on the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame, go to http://michiganbaseballhall.com/index.html.