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Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018: Speech Highlights and Twitter Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome, pose during a news conference in New York. Induction ceremonies will be Sunday, July 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed in six new legends, as Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Jim Thome and Alan Trammell were all enshrined Sunday in Cooperstown, New York.

Jones probably wouldn't receive a warm welcome in New York on most occasions given the way he and the Atlanta Braves dominated the National League East through the 1990s and early 2000s. The Braves were NL East champions from 1995 to 2005, while Jones retired as an eight-time All-Star and the 1999 NL Most Valuable Player.

The trio of Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz were integral pieces to Atlanta's string of division titles, and Jones gave them their just due during his speech. He did, however, reserve a pretty good burn for Smoltz:

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

Chipper on his pal John Smoltz: “Smoltzie always pitched like his hair was on fire. Looking at (his lack of hair) it all makes sense now.”

Jones also shouted out former teammate Andruw Jones, who was a 10-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star in 12 seasons with the Braves:

Grant McAuley @grantmcauley

Chipper Jones said he hopes #Braves teammate Andruw Jones will join him in Cooperstown one day. "Druw, I'm proud to call you my brother from another mother." #ChipperHOF

Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

Chipper Jones says he hopes former teammate Andruw Jones joins him one day in Cooperstown.

Andruw Jones' career tailed off after he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he was one of the most complete outfielders in MLB during his prime. Despite his rapid decline, Jones' peak years are enough to warrant enshrinement.

The highlight of Chipper Jones' speech came when he recounted a meeting with Mickey Mantle at a trading card show in Atlanta, per 11Alive's Jay Clemons. According to Jones, Mantle said he had had a recurring dream in which he arrived at the pearly gates and saw God.

"Don't worry, Mick. You'll get in," God said to Mantle in the dream. "But hey, before that, can you please sign these 15 baseballs?"

Jones said he had come to understand the anecdote over his career and retirement.

Charlie Manuel had a big impact on Thome's career, first as a manager in the Cleveland Indians' minor league system and then as the Indians' hitting coach. Thome credited Manuel for helping him become one of baseball's pre-eminent sluggers in the 1990s:

MLB Network @MLBNetwork

"You know I wouldn't be standing here today without you. Thank you for everything." An emotional Jim Thome thanks Charlie Manuel in his Hall of Fame induction speech. #HOFWKND https://t.co/XhCSCOpQ4I

One of Thome's contemporaries, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, was moved by his speech:

Anthony Rizzo @ARizzo44

“If you try to conduct yourself with authenticity and honesty, the end result is one of the most natural highs a human being can have” Thome, what an amazing speech by an amazing person!

The Thome family not only got to celebrate Jim's induction but also watch his daughter, Lila Thome, deliver the national anthem prior to the ceremony. Cleveland.com was on hand in Cooperstown to capture her rendition:

clevelanddotcom @clevelanddotcom

Jim Thome's daughter Lila sang the National Anthem at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. How great is this?! https://t.co/4xTH4vuMA1

Guerrero generally shied away from the spotlight during his playing career, and that continued during his Hall of Fame induction. With the help of Jose Mota as his interpreter, the 2004 American League Most Valuable Player kept his speech short and sweet.

"I wanted to let my bat do the talking," Guerrero said, per The Athletic's Fabian Ardaya. "But now that I'm done playing, I'm proud to be standing here, talking to you."

Guerrero is the first position player from the Dominican Republic to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame. His hometown was close to his heart as he closed his speech:

MLB Network @MLBNetwork

.@VladGuerrero27 thanks his hometown in the Dominican Republic as he is enshrined into the @baseballhall! #HOFWKND https://t.co/zlK8syZM2j

Hoffman stepped to the podium next and delivered a speech that was arguably the best of the day. The seven-time All-Star spanned his entire baseball career, including his years in junior college before arriving in MLB:

Adam McCalvy @AdamMcCalvy

Hoffman's speech included a thanks to Brewers medical director Roger Caplinger, who is battling cancer. "Keep up the fight," Hoffman said.

Gabe Lacques @GabeLacques

Trevor Hoffman starting with an "Oh, Doctor!" and shouting out clubbies and JC coaches and siblings along the way was more or less perfection.

AJ Cassavell @AJCassavell

Trevor Hoffman's speech was as good as they come - not that we expected anything less.

Hoffman closed his speech with a heartfelt message to his wife.

"You shared with me this amazing journey of ups and downs from the beginning, always never letting me get too high or get too low," he said, per the Associated Press (via the Washington Post). "I love you."

The Detroit Tigers are headed for a fourth straight season without playoff baseball in 2018, but Sunday was an opportunity to feel nostalgic and celebrate better times. Both Trammell and Morris were members of the Tigers team that won a World Series in 1984.

Sunday also represented the end of a long journey for Trammell and Morris.

Trammell got 40.9 percent of the vote in 2016, which was his 15th and final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Morris, meanwhile, fell off the ballot in 2014 after collecting 61.5 percent of the vote in his final year. The Modern Baseball Era Committee voted them into the Hall of Fame during the winter meetings in December.

Morris called being enshrined in the same Hall of Fame class as Trammell a "dream come true," per USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Trammell formed one of MLB's best double-play duos with second baseman Lou Whitaker over nearly two decades. 

"My hope is someday you'll be up here as well," he said of Whitaker, per the Detroit Free Press' Anthony Fenech.

Trammell singled out former Tigers manager Sparky Anderson as well.

"I looked at Sparky much like an extension of my parents," he said, per Nightengale. "I'm so happy our lives crossed."

The 2018 Hall of Fame class was loaded from top to bottom, and that might be the case in 2019 as well. Edgar Martinez is inching toward his induction after getting 70.4 percent of votes a year ago. The same can be said of Mike Mussina (63.5 percent), too.

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Todd Helton headline the stars who will be eligible starting in 2019, with Rivera and Halladay the most likely inductees in their first go-round.

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