Womack: 50 years ago, the greatest Hall of Fame speech ever

From SABR member Graham Womack at Dugout Legends on July 24, 2016:

Today, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Each gave polite, well-received speeches to mark the occasion. Griffey even put on his trademark backwards hat near the end of his speech.

Nice as Griffey and Piazza’s speeches were, though, they don’t hold a candle to the greatest speech in Hall of Fame history. Perhaps no speech ever will.

On July 25, 1966, 50 years ago as of tomorrow, Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams gave a relatively brief, 562-word speech. While his address is worth reading in its entirety, one line in particular sticks out. Williams said, just before closing his speech:

I hope that some day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro Players who are not here only because they weren’t given the chance.

As Paul Dickson noted in a fine article for The National Pastime Museum this week, some context is in order. It’s a little unfathomable looking back, but in 1966, no Negro League players had been inducted in the Hall of Fame. Writers like Shirley Povich of the Washington Post had been advocating for years to get them in. And Bob Feller had put in a plug for Paige in a 1962 Saturday Evening Post article.

Read the full article here: http://www.dugoutlegends.com/50-years-since-the-greatest-hall-of-fame-speech/

Originally published: July 24, 2016. Last Updated: July 24, 2016.