For Mariano Rivera, it was the culmination of a storied career, dreams of being the next Pelé long since forgotten. For Brandy Halladay, the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony was a tearful moment to reflect on the accomplishments of her late husband, and she handled a difficult task admirably.
Part of a core with shortstop Derek Jeter, left-hander Andy Pettitte and catcher Jorge Posada, all of whom were in the audience, Rivera helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles from 1996-2009. He posted 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA over 16 postseasons, including 11 saves in the World Series.
Rivera was the first player unanimously voted into the Hall by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He and fellow closer Lee Smith, starters Mike Mussina and Roy Halladay, and designated hitters Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines were feted on a sun-splashed afternoon in Cooperstown. A crowd estimated at 55,000, the second-largest for an induction ceremony, attended.
Brandy Halladay fought back tears as she spoke for her late husband, who had two sons: "I know how honored Roy would be to be sitting here with such accomplished men. Thank you for being such a good example to him and to supporting him in his career. This is not my speech to give."
A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Halladay amassed a 203-105 record in a 16-year career with Toronto and Philadelphia. He became just the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in the postseason, opening the 2010 NL Division Series with one against the Cincinnati Reds in the first playoff start of his career. He also pitched a perfect game that season. Halladay was elected in his first year on the ballot.
Mussina, who pitched for 18 major league seasons, posted a record of 270-153 and was a seven-time Gold Glove winner. He spent his entire career in the high-scoring AL East with the Orioles and Yankees.
Smith pitched 18 seasons for the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds and Expos and retired as MLB's career saves leader with 478, a title he held for 13 seasons. That total now ranks third all-time, as do his 802 games finished.
Martinez was a seven-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner for Seattle, where he spent his entire 18-year career. He won two AL batting titles, led the league in on-base percentage three times, and was named the outstanding designated hitter five times, an award that now bears his name.
The soft-spoken Baines, a Maryland native who still lives there, never displayed much emotion in his 22-year career, but his voice cracked throughout his speech.
"Somehow I acquired a reputation for not saying much. I'm not sure why," he deadpanned at the start. "From teachers to coaches who showed me kindness and discipline, I thank you all for what you've done for me. If I can leave you with one message, it's to give back to your community. I stand here very humbled. It has taken time to sink in."
The late Frank Robinson and Willie McCovey were honored with a moment of silence before Mussina was introduced to start the ceremony. The two Hall of Famers died since last year's induction ceremony.