Chipper Jones: 'Nothing better' than Whitaker, Trammell turning 2

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Chipper Jones speaks during the induction ceremony Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Cooperstown, N.Y. — Who would've thunk it?

Alan Trammell actually wasn't the first 2018 Baseball Hall-of-Famer to give a special shoutout to the long-snubbed Lou Whitaker.

In fact, Chipper Jones, the legendary third baseman of the Atlanta Braves, broke that ice when he gave the first of six speeches Sunday.

"Tram, coming up as a shortstop, there was nothing better than watching you and 'Sweet' Lou Whitaker turn that double play up in Detroit," Jones said. "I'm sure the city of Detroit is beaming with pride today upon yours and Jack (Morris') induction."

Jones was given the leadoff spot at the induction ceremonies not out of a draw of a hat, but rather by circumstance.

His wife was due to give birth Monday, and Jones was put first so he could be freed up in case she went into labor during the ceremonies.

He was so prepared, in fact, according to the MLB Network, Jones prerecorded his Hall-of-Fame speech in case she went into labor before the ceremonies.

"Taylor is due any minute with our second boy," Jones said. "We decided to name him Cooper in honor of this occasion. Cooper will give us seven boys altogether.

"I love you all. You're my pride and joy. I want you to step away from my shadow and blaze your own trail in whatever you're passionate about.

"Believe in what you do, love whatever you do, and know that I love you unconditionally and will support you in whatever path you choose."

More: Ex-Tigers ace Jack Morris caps 'incredible journey' with Hall of Fame induction

More: Jack Morris' complete Hall of Fame speech

Ozzie nearly a Tiger

Trammell was part Hall-of-Famer, part history teacher during his speech.

Tigers fans probably know the story, but the rest of baseball might not have been aware — that 1976 draft class that included Trammell and Morris also included a third Hall-of-Famer.

The Tigers drafted a shortstop Cal-Poly in the seventh round.

His name: Ozzie Smith.

"Now, Ozzie didn't sign with the Tigers. He went back to school," Trammell said. "But my point is the Tigers had one heck of a draft that year."

Trammell used the anecdote to give current Tigers fans — watching their team go through a deep rebuild — some hope of what might be to come.

"We did it back then by having good drafts and good signings," said Trammell, "and that's our goal now."

Smith, of course, went on to a Hall-of-Fame career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Asked how his career might've been different had Smith signed with the Tigers, Trammell smiled late Sunday and said that's for us to debate.

More: Humble Alan Trammell thanks fans, honors Lou Whitaker, Sparky Anderson in Hall speech

More: Alan Trammell’s complete Hall of Fame speech

Hoffman's arrival in San Diego

How many folks knew Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres Hall-of-Fame closer, first was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds (11th round, 1989), then the Florida Marlins (eighth pick, 1992 expansion draft)?

Interestingly, it was Dave Dombrowski who traded Hoffman from the Marlins to the Padres, whose general manager in 1993 was Randy Smith.

Smith went on to become Tigers general manager in 1996, and was replaced and then fired by Dombrowski in 2002.

"Little did I know then that Padres general manager Randy Smith was putting together a collection of young players with an eye to the future," Hoffman said.

"Wow, 15 years in one spot, and that spot, San Diego. Jackpot."

Thome tames Tigers

Hard to believe Jim Thome would've been a Hall-of-Famer if he never played against the Tigers.

He was the ultimate Tiger killer. Just look at these numbers: 221 games, 66 home runs, 154 RBIs, 38 doubles, 168 walks, with a slash line of .295/.433/.635 for an OPS of 1.068. His career OPS against everybody was .956.

Thome was one of the more popular inductees in Cooperstown this weekend, because he could dip into so many fan bases. He played for six teams.

Interestingly, while he spent 13 years in Cleveland, it was Philadelphia Phillies fans who seemed to outnumber Indians fans. He played just four years in Philadelphia.

"The city welcomed me with open arms from the moment the electricians met us wearing our hard hats," Thome said of the notoriously harsh Philly fans, who once famously booed Santa Claus, and made Lance Parrish's life miserable after he left the Tigers for the Phillies via free agency in 1987. "The fans couldn't have been better."

Around the horn

The Hall-of-Famers were urged to keep their speeches to eight minutes or less. The one who made sure to comply was slugger Vladimir Guerrero, whose came in around three minutes. Amazingly, he hit that number, even though his speech also had to be translated.

Guerrero had two huge fan contingents in attendance — those from Montreal, which is hoping to again land a team someday, and those from the Dominican Republic.

... The 53,000-plus fans in attendance was the second-largest crowd for an induction ceremony. The largest was 82,000 in 2007 for the ceremony for Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn.

... There were 57 Hall-of-Famers in attendance Sunday, including the six newcomers. That's the most ever assembled for an induction ceremony in Cooperstown.