Ricky Henderson, now 50, was just the 44th player elected to the Hall in his first year of eligibility; Rice had to wait until his final year of eligibility to be selected.
“It doesn’t matter that the call came 15 years later,” Rice said. “What matters is that I got it.” Rice batted .298 with 382 home runs and 1,451 RBIs from 1974-89. He drove in 100 or more runs eight times, batted over .300 seven times, and topped 200 hits four times. Rice is the only player in major league history with at least 35 homers and 200 hits in three consecutive seasons (1977-79).
But the most touching part of the ceremony was at the end of the acceptance speech given by late Gordon’s daughter, Judy. Gordon died in 1978 at age 63 and requested that he not have a funeral.
“We consider Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as his final resting place, a place he’ll be honored forever,” Judy Gordon said, with tears in her eyes.
“Gordon won the 1942 AL MVP, beating out Triple Crown winner Ted Williams, and was an All-Star nine times in 11 seasons, leading the league in assists four times and in double plays three times. Gordon was nicknamed “Flash” because of his quick feet, he was the first AL second baseman to hit 20 home runs in a season, and he did it seven times! Gordon still holds the league mark for career homers (246) by a second baseman.