After patiently waiting their turn, Don Sutton and Larry Doby finally took their place Sunday in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sutton and Doby were among five individuals enshrined in the sport's hallowed shrine in a 90-minute ceremony at Cooperstown, New York. Long-time baseball executive Lee MacPhail, former Negro League star Joe Rogan and shortstop George Davis, one of the finest hitters from the deadball era, also were inducted.
P>Sutton, the 12th-winningest pitcher of all-time, had been bypassed four times by the baseball writers before finally earning his ticket. The 324-game winner shared the stage with Doby, the second African-American to play in the major leagues but whose recognition has lagged far behind that of the first, Jackie Robinson.
In addition, 94-year-old Sam Lacy was the first African American honored with the Hall's J.G. Taylor Spink Award and the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting was presented to Jaime Jarrin, the 40-year Spanish voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sutton was the only choice of the baseball writers in 1998, again proving that 300 career wins is a benchmark for induction, no matter how long it takes to get there. He had been the only eligible 300-game winner not enshrined and fell a mere nine votes shy of induction in 1997, when 318-game winner Phil Niekro was the writers' only inductee.
"The wait was worthwhile," said Sutton, the last individual to be inducted Sunday. "It was over four years and I wanted to be here all that time."
Sutton owns a 324-256 record with a 3.26 ERA in 23 seasons with Los Angeles, Houston Oakland, Milwaukee and California. He appeared in four All-Star Games and four World Series.
The knock on Sutton was that his victory total had more to do with longevity than dominance. He had just one 20-win season despite playing on successful teams for most of his career. Sutton also led his own staff in wins just four times.
The 53-year-old Sutton began his career with the Dodgers in 1966 and played his first 15 seasons in Los Angeles, winning a career-best 21 games in 1976. One of his finest seasons was 1972, when he was 19-9 with a career-best 2.08 ERA. He had at least 11 wins in all but two seasons and recorded 58 career shutouts.
Sutton, currently a Braves broadcaster, entered the Hall of Fame as a Dodger, joining a list that includes two of his former managers -- Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda -- and former teammates Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax.
For Sutton, the wait for Cooperstown took a back seat to the struggles of his 2-year-old daughter, Jackie, who was born 16 weeks premature. She has battled a series of illnesses but her life no longer is in danger.
"For the last two years, you showed how much more important life is, then the things in life," Sutton said. "You've been an inspiration."
Doby became the first black player in the American League just three months after Robinson broke the color barrier and was the leading candidate elected by the 14-man Veteran's Committee.
Doby debuted with the Cleveland Indians on July 5, 1947, and the following year helped lead the team to its last World Series title. Over a 13-year career, including 10 seasons with the Indians, he hit .283 with 253 home runs and 969 RBI.
"It's a tough thing to look back and think about things that were probably negative," Doby said of his own battle with baseball's color barrier. "I'm happy to be part of the integration of baseball. I'm proud and honered to have shown people that we can live together, work together and play together."
In 1950, Doby batted a career-high .326, and he drove in more than 100 runs on four occasions. He led the league with 32 homers in both 1952 and 1954, finishing second by 20 votes to Yogi Berra in MVP voting in 1954.
Before joining the Indians, Doby was a standout for the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League. In 1946, Doby led the Eagles to the Negro League Championship, batting .397. The next year, he was hitting .414 before signing with the Indians.
Doby also was the second African-American to manage a team, taking over the Chicago White Sox in the middle of the 1978 season. The 73-year-old works as a special assistant to AL President Gene Budig.
MacPhail teams with his father, Larry, as the first father-son combination in the Hall of Fame. Lee MacPhail served as player personnel director of the New York Yankees from 1948-58, building a team that won nine American League pennants and seven World Series championships.
"My father was brillian, colorful, dynamic and an innovator. I was none of these, but I did learn a lot from him," MacPhail said of his dad, an executive for the Dodgers and Yankees.
After his tenure with the Yankees, Lee MacPhail moved to Baltimore, where he served as general manager of the Orioles from 1958-65. Baltimore won the World Series the following season, when MacPhail returned to the Yankees as vice president and general manager.
MacPhail served as American League president from 1974-83 and was one of the key figures in ending the 1981 baseball strike. He headed the Player Relations Committee in 1985, when another long work stoppage was avoided.
The 80-year-old MacPhail, who served as honorary AL captain at this year's All-Star Game, was most proud of being selected in the pioneer's category.
"The players obviously are the ones here, but many of my peers have comparable stats and also should be included," he said.
Rogan honed his baseball skills in the U.S. Army, where he played for the 25th Infantry Wreckers Army team from 1911-19. He joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920 and was part of four Negro League pennant-winning teams.
Rogan played all nine positions, though he was primarily a starting pitcher and outfielder on non-pitching days. His best seasons came in 1923 and 1924, when he led the league in batting and wins. He hit .416 with a 15-5 record in 1923 and followed it up with a .412 average and 14-2 mark in 1924. Rogan became a player-manager in 1926 and guided the Monarchs until 1938. After his retirement, he served as an umpire until 1946.
Nicknamed "The Bullet," Rogan died March 4, 1967 at age 77. He is fifth among Negro League pitchers with 113 wins and is considered the predecessor to the legendary Satchel Paige.
Davis, a switch hitter, played for the New York Giants at the turn of the century. After three subpar years with the Cleveland Spiders from 1890-92, he batted .300 or better in nine straight seasons, including a .355 mark in 1893.
In 1897, he batted .353 with a league-best 134 RBI, four more than Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who holds the modern-day era for RBI by a switch hitter with 130 in 1956.
Over a 20-year career that also featured a six-year stint and seven overall seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Davis batted .295 with 2,667 hits and 1,435 RBI, scoring 1,544 runs. He ended his career with the White Sox in 1909 after playing in 2,376 games. Davis' lone appearance in the World Series came in 1906, when he was 4-for-13 with six RBI in three games.
Davis died in 1940 at age 69. Hall of Fame officials were unable to find any living relatives, so National League President Leonard Coleman accepted the award in his honor.
Lacy is in his 54th year as sports editor of the Baltimore Afro-American and extensively covered Robinson's struggle to break the color barrier.
Sunday's induction ceremonies increased the membership of the Hall of Fame to 237, including 178 layers and 23 pioneers.
A crowd of approximately 14,000 attended the proceedings on a perfect sunny afternoon. The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays will play in the traditional Hall of Fame Game on Monday afternoon.
The first-time eligibles in 1999 will include all-time strikeout king Nolan Ryan, who has a record seven no-hitters and 324 wins, along with George Brett and Robin Yount. Carlton Fisk and Dale Murphy also are among those eligible in 1999.
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