Cooperstown's Class of 2015 reflects diversity in game

Wed Jan 7, 2015 7:26pm EST
 
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From tallest to shortest, from a hybrid starter/reliever to a versatile regular who went from catcher to infield to outfield, the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 embodies the diversity that is part of baseball's appeal.

Pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, and Houston Astros stalwart Craig Biggio showed how players of different shapes could take different paths to Cooperstown.

A shared sensation was how humbled they felt to be joining the sport's greatest players with their July 26 induction.

"I'm very grateful, honored and humbled that I would be here at this dais," Johnson told a news conference on Wednesday, "and to be going in July to grace the stage with the greatest players who have ever played the game.

"And I'm really excited to meet Babe Ruth."

Johnson, who entered Major League Baseball as its tallest player ever at 6-foot-10, will stand alongside Dominican Martinez, who at 5-foot-11 will be the first pitcher shy of 6-foot to be inducted since the Yankees' Whitey Ford in 1974.

Smoltz will take his place after a schizophrenic career in which he sparkled as a starter, then dazzled as a closer before returning to the rotation in becoming the only player to amass more than 200 wins and 150 saves.

"This is just a humbling experience for me," said Smoltz. "I'm like a chameleon of finding a way to get it done in my career."   Continued...

 
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez slaps hands with fans before MLB's 2010 season opener between the reigning World Series Champions New York Yankees and the Red Sox in their American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts April 4, 2010. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl