I would like to thank the Hall of Fame and their staff for an unbelievable weekend here in Cooperstown. I would also like to thank Commissioner Manfred and his leadership in baseball.
I would also like to thank Jane Clark and her staff.
I also like to thank the writers for writing, for — for this prestigious honor.
I would also like to thank the families and friends and the thousands — I got a couple of these somewhere. I probably got them.
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Thousands of baseball fans who traveled all over the country and who are also watching this on MLB Network. I would like to point out one fan, Rob, who traveled 6,000 miles to get here. I just wanted to say thank you.
I stand up here humbled and overwhelmed. The last couple months have been a blur.
From the call from the Hall of Fame to the calls from all the Hall of Famers that are sitting here behind me. I can’t describe how that feels, but I can tell you that I was more nervous talking to them than I am now.
There are a lot of people out here who made me the person I am today. Now I can’t name them all and I apologize for that, but I will talk about my high school baseball coach Mike Cameron and Schmidtty.
When I decided to play baseball, high school baseball instead of going to spring training, I went in the batting cage and I swung and missed seven or eight times. And I still remember the look on that coach’s face and Cameron’s face saying, “And he’s supposed to be good?”
I told them, I said, just wait until we get outside. A couple weeks later we were able to go outside and I hit the first couple balls in the trees and I can remember Schmidtty going, “Wow, I think we have got something here.”
I want to thank them for being true coaches, for being honest and fair. Thank you.
But it’s really ironic that I get drafted by a team that plays all their games indoors.
We have Papa Joe Haden, coach of the Midland Redskins. Papa Joe treated everybody fair. He taught us more about life lessons than baseball. He was more concerned about us being good players, I mean good people than players and winning a championship.
He brought together kids of all colors, backgrounds, and financial status.
Papa Joe is no longer here. He’s up there in baseball heaven, coaching third, and smoking a cigar.
And he also wears shorts.
To my dad, who taught me how to play this game, but more importantly he taught me how to be a man. How to work hard, how to look at yourself in the mirror each and every day, and not to worry about what other people are doing.
See, baseball didn’t come easy for him. He was the 29th round pick and had to choose between football and baseball. And where he’s from in Donora, Pennsylvania, football is king. But I was born five months after his senior year and he made a decision to play baseball to provide for his family, because that’s what men do. And I love you for that.
To my mom, the strongest woman I know. Raising two boys, having to be mom and dad. Splitting time to go to one another’s games, me and my brother. She was our biggest fan and our biggest critic.
She sat up and did homework with us, stayed up all night when we were sick, and I tell people that I’m more scared of my mom than my dad. Just because she didn’t play. And if you don’t — if you don’t believe me, there are a couple of my friends here who can attest to that.
She’s the only woman I know that lives in one house, but runs five others. I don’t know how you do it, to be able to put your hopes and dreams just to raise two boys and never complain about it. I love you, mom.
To my brother Craig, my biggest competitor, day and night we had these epic battles, whether it was football, basketball or baseball. But no matter what, you never gave up, never gave in. I just have one problem with you: How come when you won all my friends knew about it? And we didn’t even have cell phones back then.
You’re one of the people who pushed me the most and I will always love you for that. Thank you.
Brian Goldberg. You have been there since day one. We have had a great journey, even though there was some ups and downs. But I can’t think of a better friend/agent that I would want by my side other than you. Thank you.
We have also have Lynn Merritt. I can remember the first thing you said to me is that I can’t do nothing for you now, but in a few years, if you keep doing what you’re doing, I’ll keep in touch. That was February of 1991, and look at us now. You’ve been a big brother, uncle, and on some rare occasions, the voice of reason.
A lot of people don’t know Lynn.
Trey, Taryn and Tevin, words can’t describe how much I love you and would do anything for you.
Trey, you’re my little man, my partner in crime. And one day, sitting there on the couch, you took a bat and hit the TV. And your mom got mad at you and then got mad at me and asked me why I was not mad and I said, “Girl, you can’t teach that swing.”
So I got up and bought a new TV.
There’s a song by Will Smith that’s “Just The Two Of Us.” There’s a part in the song where it talks about driving home after you were born, in the car, and all these cars were passing us up, and he talks about how mad he was. I felt like that on the way home.
Taryn. Daddy’s little girl. From the first time you were born I knew that I had to go into protect mode. I didn’t even like my teammates who had boys. You taught me how to share and I think I’ve eaten more french fries over the years than you. So no matter if I went 4-4 or 0-4 to hear those words when I came home, “Daddy”, made my best days better and my bad days not so bad. Even to this day, when you call me on the phone, my day’s a little brighter.
Tevin, seeing you for the first time made my life complete. All my friends called you a mini Denzel. Because you didn’t cry or make a sound. You have a great sense of humor, you’re caring and thoughtful. Watching you grow up has been nothing but a pleasure and never a dull moment around you. I know your brother and sisters are at school, but you don’t have to keep us that busy like they’re still at home. So let’s make a deal, only two sports at a time, not three and four. People always say that you’re the lucky one, but, no, me and your mom are the lucky ones.
Melissa, my wife, my best friend, you wear so many hats at our home. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and all the things that you’ve done, and continue to do, for this family. You are the glue that holds this family together and the light when it’s dark. People say that you’re lucky, well that’s not true, I’m the lucky one.
From the first time I saw you I knew you were going to be my wife. Now, it took you a little longer to realize that I was going to be your husband, but I’m okay with that now. I love you.
I would now like (to) thank the Seattle Mariners organization for taking a chance on a 17-year-old kid and allowing him to continue to play this great game of baseball.
See, in the winter of ’86, I remember being in my garage and Bobby Tolan saying to me, “Hey, the Seattle Mariners have the first pick and they’re looking at you.” I walk in my house and look at my dad and say, “Hey dad, where’s Seattle?”
See, at that time they were a young franchise and I really only cared about where my dad was at. So, if he was with the Yankees, I was a Yankee fan. If he went to Atlanta, I was an Atlanta fan. The only person I knew on that team was Bobby Brown, not the singer and not the American League president. And the only reason I knew him was because he played with my dad on the Yankees.
In 1989, I made the team out of spring training, not sure of what kind of player I would be. But at 19, all I wanted to do was survive. Even though I had been around baseball all my life doesn’t mean that I have arrived.
Some of the men who helped me are here today. Ricky Henderson. Ricky, I’m still looking for that rematch. See, he beat me in a game of horse when I was 14 years old, made a jump shot, drove off in his car, and never gave me that rematch.
Well, Ricky, I know where you’re going to be July 2017, and I’m bringing my shorts.
Ozzie Smith, the wizard.
Dave Winfield. As my dad referred to him as Big Blood.
Eddie Murray. I met Eddie when I was 12. And it was in a back field in Fort Lauderdale. And my dad introduced me, he goes, this is one of the hardest switch-hitting guys in baseball. And I stuck my hand out and he shook it. And he didn’t smile.
See, Eddie had a beard, a goatee, and a fro. And as we’re walking off, I asked my dad, “Does he smile?”
My dad replied back, “He did smile. He is smiling.”
And I turned around and I looked back at my dad and I go, “I would hate to see him mad.”
Randy Johnson. Now every lefty wanted to take a day off when he pitched. Even we did. But you guys think it was bad, we had to face him when he had no control in spring training.
Today — I got more friends — Alvin Davis, Harold Reynolds, Dave Valle, Jeffrey Leonard, Mickey Brantley, Darnell Coles, Chili Davis, Kirby Puckett. These guys were like my big brothers. They took me out to lunch and dinner, made me share rides with them in the cab and drilled me on life problems. The only problem is, you tell me what 19-year-old in the big leagues has life problems?
Then we have Jay Buhner. As we referred to each other as brothers from a different mother. He was the greatest teammate I ever had. A guy that gave you everything on the field and a guy that spoke the truth, even though you didn’t want to hear it. And I love you for that.
Looking back, I got to do and say things that have never been said. I got a chance to play with my dad. I got to yell at him and tell him to get a hit. And in baseball there’s certain things of, you can call somebody a fossil, gray beard, grandpa, dad, pops, but I got a chance to say it and mean it.
We hit back to back home runs. We’re the first father and son to win MVPs in All-Star Games.
Hitting the warehouse in Baltimore.
Winning a Home Run Derby in Pittsburgh in my home state.
The ’95 series.
Randy Johnson’s no hitter.
Jay Buhner hitting for the cycle.
And Edgar Martinez winning his first batting title. And, yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame.
And there’s Barry Larkin. I was in the clubhouse when he hit his first grand slam. ... getting hot chocolate.
But I’ve known his family since I was 12, his younger brother Byron took care of me as a freshman. And then I had to take care of his younger brother, Steven. I want to thank them for opening up their homes and making me who I am today.
I got to play this game for 22 years, and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. I spent eight years with the Reds. I got to put on the same uniform as my dad and run around in the same outfield.
I got a front row seat to the greatest team ever assembled, the 1975 and 1976 Reds. As a member of the Reds I was often teased by my teammates saying that my dad played for the Big Red Machine and you’re the engineer to the little red caboose.
Chicago White Sox. I had a chance to play meaningful games day in and day out. What else can you ask for as a player. Thank you.
Thirteen years with the Seattle Mariners.
From the day I got drafted until my first at-bat in the Kingdome, to the ’95 playoffs, to my first trip back to Seattle as a member of the Reds and my return to Seattle in 2009, to my retirement in 2010, Seattle, Washington, has been a big part of my life.
There are so many great things that I could talk about, but we would be here all day. So I am going to leave you with one thing:
Out of my 22 years, I’ve learned that only one team will treat you the best, and that’s your first team. I’m damn proud to be a Seattle Mariner.
The two misconceptions of me are I didn’t work hard, and that everything I made it look easy. Just because I made it look easy doesn’t mean that it was and you don’t become a Hall of Famer without working day in and day out.
I want to thank my family and friends, the fans, the Reds, the White Sox and Mariners for making this kid’s dream come true. Thank you.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677