Six new faces will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on Sunday when the National Baseball Hall of Fame holds its 2019 induction ceremony.
Legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera headlines the class, the only person ever to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame. The other guys joining Rivers in Cooperstown are pitcher Mike Mussina, designated hitter Edgar Martinez, DH/outfielder Harold Baines, reliever Lee Smith and the late pitcher Roy Halladay.
For fans of baseball, the Hall of Fame ceremony is a jaunt down memory lane, an opportunity to pay tribute to and recognize the accomplishments of their sporting heroes. Here's how to watch.
2019 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Date: Sunday, July 21
Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
Live Stream: MLB.com
Every year, the teams the players will represent in the Hall is always a topic of discussion. According to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, four of the players' choices were predictable, while two of the players will go in without a team logo:
"While Rivera (Yankees), Martinez (Mariners), Baines (White Sox) and Smith (Cubs) went with obvious choices for the logo on the caps on their plaques, Mussina and the Halladay family opted not to have a team logo presented."
Rivera's (652 saves, 2.21 ERA) and Martinez's (309 HR, 1,261 RBI) choices are no-brainers since they played their entire careers with one team.
Martinez was the quintessential designated hitter, locking down the spot for years, and he was good enough to stay in the lineup whether it was a righty or lefty on the mound.
Rivera is simply the best closer in baseball history, a master of the cut fastball. His version of the pitch is one of the great weapons in the sport's history. Rivera used it to mow down legions of batters across three decades. Thirteen All-Star appearances and five World Series rings came along with it.
Baines (384 HR, 1,628 RBI) played for five teams during his 22-year career, but he spent the first nine-plus years with the Chicago White Sox (as well as a couple later stints, plus coaching), earning four of his six All-Star appearances with the team in that span. Smith (478 saves, 3.03 ERA) spent eight of his 18 years with the Chicago Cubs, although the majority of his All-Star appearances came elsewhere.
Mussina (270-153, 3.68 ERA), a fantastic pitcher and seven-time Gold Glove winner, split his time fairly evenly between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.
Halladay, who died in a plane crash in November 2017 and was elected to the Hall posthumously, spent the bulk of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays. His four years with the Philadelphia Phillies were special, though. He threw a perfect game in May 2010 for the Phillies and later that year threw the second no-hitter in baseball postseason history in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.
All six players were great, but it's the inductions of Halladay and Rivera that figure to be the most memorable, and there is a special connection between the two. Rivera shared the secrets of his cutter with Halladay at the 2008 All-Star game, per Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, with Halladay even going as far as tracing his finger placement on the ball in blue ink. Rivera was happy to help.
"When you have All-Star games, you always chit-chat with the guys, exchanging success [stories], just talking," Rivera said Saturday, per Davidi. "I was talking with Halladay, and he asked me how I throw the cutter, and I taught him. He did good, and my guys got mad at me because I taught him. But it's all right. That's part of me.|
They shared a pitch, and on Sunday, Rivera and Halladay will share a place in the Hall of Fame along with all the other legends of the game.