Alan Trammell’s complete Hall of Fame speech

The Detroit News
Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker in 1995.

Here is the complete speech given by former Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday.

I hear you. Thank you, Jane, Commissioner, and thank you, Jeff, Jon, Whitney and the entire Hall of Fame staff for making this whole experience so memorable.

When people ask me where were you when you received your phone call from the Hall of Fame, I tell them Jane called while I was standing in the aisle deplaning for my flight to the Winter Meetings. You can't make that up. That's how it happened. How do you really describe your emotions in a time like that? I wanted to jump up and down, yell and scream, but I didn't think that would be appropriate to do that in the aisle of a plane. My mind was racing, I was overwhelmed, it was unbelievable.

But those words aren't enough. Seven months later, they're still not enough. Thank you to the Modern Baseball Era Committee for selecting both Jack and I into this year's class. Honestly, I didn't think this day would ever come. But knowing that the voting committee included many of our peers makes this even sweeter.

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I'd also like to congratulate my fellow 2018 classmates, Jack, Chipper, Jim, Vlady, and Hoffy. I am honored to be going into the Hall of Fame with all of you.

To the Ilitch family, thank you not only for what you've done for the Tigers, but what you've brought to the city of Detroit. You have been at the forefront of so many wonderful changes to the Motor City. Thank you, Chris, and your entire family for all your important contributions.

To Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline, thank you for being a role model that you are, doing everything with class and dignity. I'm proud to have worn the Old English D my entire playing career, just like you did.

Tiger fans, I know you're out there. Today is as much about you as it is for me. Your support over all these years has meant a great deal to me, and today all Tiger fans can celebrate. Like Ernie Harwell used to say when the Tigers turn a double play, you get two for the price of one with Jack and I going into the Hall of Fame together.

My dream of playing Major League Baseball started many years ago. I had the good fortune to grow up in San Diego, beautiful city with great weather, which allowed me to always be outside playing sports with my buddies. I remember playing ball during the summer like it was yesterday. Hardball, tennis ball, rubber ball, Wiffle ball, whatever, anything to keep us busy.

My parents, who unfortunately are no longer with us, were always supportive and saw early on how much I loved baseball. They were the ones that instilled the structure, discipline, and preparation that is needed to be successful. My mother would be extremely proud. I think back to the days we listened to baseball games on the radio, and she would tell me, If you ever make it to the Major Leagues, I want you to be humble like my favorite player, Stan Musial. Well, Mom, I hope I did OK for you.

I also had two sisters, Lynne and Nancy, who were always looking out for their little brother.

To my wife, Barbara, who has been with me my entire professional career. Earlier this year we celebrated our 40th anniversary. And from day one has been my biggest supporter, my confidante, and the backbone of our family.

It's not easy being married to an athlete and while you're playing baseball and traveling all over the country. She was able to raise our three children – Lance, Kyle, and Jade. Barb, you did a great job. I love you.

In 1976, I received another memorable phone call. It came from the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers had just selected me with their second-round pick, and the dream to play in the Major Leagues was soon to become a reality. I had already signed a letter of intent to play at UCLA, but it really wasn't difficult to convince my parents to let me try and fulfill my childhood dreams.

Dick Wiencek, the scout who signed me, deserves a lot of credit. Dick was able to convince Bill Lajoie, who was the Tigers scouting director, to draft a skinny, 165-pound shortstop with no power. Looking back, Bill respected Dick's judgment. Dick Wiencek would sign 72 Major League players, the most in baseball history. I remember Dick telling me if I hit .250 and played good defense, I would play in the Big Leagues a long time. I doubt scouts are telling young shortstops that today.

Dick also had a hand in a few other Tigers drafted that year. That 1976 draft also included my fellow inductee and teammate, Jack Morris. And this marks the first time that two members of the same team's draft class reached Cooperstown. The Tigers also drafted Dan Petry, who along with Jack, formed the one-two punch at the top of our rotation for many years.

We also drafted another shortstop who just happens to be here today. That would be Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Now, Ozzie didn't sign with the Tigers. He went back to school. But my point is the Tigers had one heck of a draft that year.

Dick, thank you for believing in me. Your signings played a big part in our championship run during the 1984 season. So for Tiger fans who are going through a rebuilding year, there is hope. We did it back then by having good drafts and good signings, and that's our goal now.

Like all the Hall of Famers sitting behind me, I was very fortunate to have so many people help me get to where I am today. To John Boggs and Gary Spicer, thank you for continuing to direct me in the right direction. To all my managers, coaches, trainers, clubhouse personnel, and former teammates, many who are here today, thank you for being a huge part of this journey. We had so many good times together, and our friendships will be forever.

My whole career I have been linked with one person. For 19 years, Lou Whitaker and I formed the longest running double-play combination in the history of baseball. I doubt that record will ever be broken. Lou and I were called up to the Big Leagues from Double-A on the same day. We both played in our first Big League ballgame at Fenway Park on the same day. We both got hits at our first Major League at-bats off the same pitcher, Reggie Cleveland, and we both got our last hits of our careers off the same pitcher, Mike Fetters. Can you believe that? That's truly amazing.

For all those years, it was Lou and Tram. Lou, it was an honor and a pleasure to have played alongside you for all those years, and I hope – my hope is some day you'll be up here as well.

There is one other person I'd like to recognize here today. You probably know who it is, but early in my career, the Tigers made arguably their most important move during my time with the club. They hired a new manager named Sparky Anderson. Well, that move turned out to be a life-changer for me and so many of my teammates.

For whatever reason, Sparky had been let go the previous season by the Cincinnati Reds, the Tigers swooped him up, and the former skipper of The Big Red Machine was now the manager of the Detroit Tigers.

Little did we know how our lives were about to change. We thought we were good ballplayers, but we found out we didn't know squat. Sparky turned a team of young, talented players into good, fundamentally sound baseball players.

And that sounds simple, but, believe me, there was a lot more to it if you wanted to play Sparky's way. Sparky's way was team first, always team first. Check your ego at the door.

I looked at Sparky much like an extension of my parents; that meant tough love, discipline, and attention to detail. It took a few years while we competed in the old American League East for all of that to set in, but for those of us that stayed through the process, we reaped the benefits and had many years of success.

I will admit, I questioned some of Sparky's moves. For example, back in 1987, he decided to change our lineup. He moved me from batting second to the clean-up position. I thought he was crazy. But I ended up having the best year of my career.

I'm very thankful I bought into Sparky's way, and I'm proud to say that Sparky Anderson had the biggest influence on my career. I feel so lucky to have played for him for 17 years, and I'm so happy our lives crossed, and I know Sparky is smiling down on all of us today.

One day this incredible journey will all sink in, and my current role as a special assistant to the general manager, I feel I can speak for the entire Tiger's organization and for all Tigers fans, that going into the Hall of Fame wearing the Old English D makes us all very proud.

I feel truly honored to be on Major League Baseball's dream team. To everyone here in Cooperstown and watching at home, thank you very much for being a part of this special day for me and my family. Thank you.