Hall Of Famer Pedro Martinez Coaches David (Big Papi) Ortiz On Induction Sunday Hall Of Fame Talk

Fans of the Minnesota Twins haven’t had so much to cheer about since the 1991 World Series.

Not only are Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat going into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday but also David (Big Papi) Ortiz, who played for the Twins before embarking on a long career as the star designated hitter of the Boston Red Sox.

Among those watching the induction of the Class of 2022 will be Rod Carew, who started his career with Minnesota, and Pedro Martinez, like Ortiz a Dominican native who turned humble beginnings into a brilliant career.

“Me and Pedro go way back,” Ortiz told reporters at the Clark Sports Center Saturday. “We have so many memories.

“He gave me a speech telling me what to do – not to forget where I came from but also to have fun.”

Ortiz and Oliva are intertwined. “We have so many Minnesota connections,” said the man nicknamed Big Papi after his larger-than-life personality. “It’s going to be tough enough and it’s going to be emotional.

“Boston is my second home. I think about it every day.”

Ortiz said he is honored to enter the Hall of Fame with Oliva. “Tony was always there. He always wanted the best for us,” he said of his former Twins teammate. “It’s an honor to go into the Hall on the same day.

“I saw so many Minnesota people I dealt with when I first got to the big leagues.” Ortiz revealed he and Martinez talked about the late Kirby Puckett, another Minnesota star who wound up in Cooperstown.

Outgoing and playful in front of a packed press conference, Ortiz wore sunglasses indoors and joked that he didn’t want a particular reporter to ask a question.

“Not him,” the former slugger said when moderator Craig Muder selected a journalist with a raised hand.

Earlier, Ortiz credited his Twins teammates for helping him become a star. “I always wanted to make sure my teammates felt comfortable around me,” said the oversized Dominican.

“Without my teammates, I don’t think I could have done anything.”

According to Ortiz, ballplayers have a strong fraternity.

“Going back to my Minnesota days, all the way through Boston, it’s a fraternity, the same as it is in Cooperstown,” he said. “We built it up during our careers.”

Oliva, the only man to win batting titles in both of his first two seasons, credited the late Minnie Minoso for paving his path.

“He played in the Cuban Winter League and was really like Jackie Robinson here in America,” said Oliva of the former outfielder, who will also be inducted this weekend.

“When Minoso played, it was a little bit tougher. We stayed in different hotels and ate in different restaurants. But I don’t believe it was a sacrifice. Baseball was a job.”

Oliva and Carew were teammates for 10 years with the Twins.

“We had a great time,” he said. “I remember back in ‘61 we played in the Instructional League together.”

An upbeat attitude helped Oliva overcome an early good-hit, no-field reputation. “I gave 100 per cent,” he said. “My goal was to play ball in Cuba, in the Winter Baseball League in Havana.

“But I got lucky. You have to be lucky if they give you the opportunity to play. “You have to have a chance to improve and let the scouts see you and sign you. My family and my job were also the most important things to me.”

Oliva revealed that his brother got permission from the current Cuban government to attend his Hall of Fame induction. “He never had the chance to see me play (in the majors),” Oliva noted.

For Jim Kaat, the third living inductee in the Class of 2022, sharing the ceremony with Oliva makes it more memorable.

“I know Tony’s back-story, how he was released during spring training in 1961 but came back to be Rookie of the Year in 1964 and a perennial All-Star.

“His role in the big leagues was much more difficult than mine.”

Kaat said he reported to the Instructional League wearing a Washington Senators jersey only to have the franchise shift to the Twin Cities on the very same day. “I’m so glad the Twins didn’t lose their franchise so I can go in as a Twin,” he said of his former team, which was almost a victim of contraction.

Kaat said he narrowed his Induction Day speaking time to 11½ minutes, just a hair longer than recommended. He mentioned that his invitation list included 91-year-old McKeon, his minor-league manager in 1958.

“Jim Thome was my first call,” he said of his election, “but then I got a nice call from Sandy Koufax. That meant a lot to me. “The day after I got elected, I got a call from Willa Allen, Dick’s widow. If the (Eras) committee could have voted for five of us, I think Dick would have gotten in.”

Kaat, who won 16 straight Gold Gloves as a pitcher, said he copied his fielding prowess from Bobby Shantz, formerly of the Philadelphia Athletics. Kaat’s dad rooted for that team.

The late Ted Williams also had links to Kaat, who spoke at the 1997 dedication of the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston. Kaat said he got Williams out once.

An accomplished broadcaster since his playing days ended, Kaat covered the 1991 World Champion Twins as a local sportscaster before becoming a network sideline reporter.

An announcer for the 1998 Yankees, Kaat said that team might be the best team he’s seen in the past 35 years. When he joined that team, manager Bob Lemon said, “Are you ready to pitch?”

Kaat always seemed ready, even trying to extend his career at age 45 at the spring training camp of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of his pending induction, Kaat had only one parting comment:

“I’m more humbled by it than excited by it.”

Also to be inducted Sunday, on a posthumous basis, are Negro League pioneers Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler; former Brooklyn first baseman Gil Hodges; and Minoso, an outfielder who played mainly for the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschlossberg/2022/07/24/hall-of-famer-pedro-martinez-coaches-david-big-papi-ortiz-on-induction-sunday-hall-of-fame-talk/