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Barry M. Bloom

Class of 2014 basking in glow of big weekend

Once-in-a-lifetime experience leaves new Hall of Famers with great memories

Class of 2014 basking in glow of big weekend play video for Class of 2014 basking in glow of big weekend

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame usually exceeds expectations for the participants, and the events of this past weekend were no exception.

A day after the ceremony and a dinner honoring the new inductees, they were all back on the stage behind the Clark Sports Center on Monday morning, participating in a "Voices of the Game" panel discussion.

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"This is a whole other plateau here," Joe Torre said before heading on stage. "You talk about the top of the mountain, that's what this is. And the interesting part is when you hang with these guys, there's no egos out there. They share stories -- just little intimate details or things they remember that involved you that blew you away. You just figure out who's listening and what impact it made."

Forty-four of the other 59 living Hall of Famers attended the ceremony and annual dinner, which is a ritual for the new inductees, and Greg Maddux reiterated Torre's point.

"There were more egos in a Major League clubhouse than that clubhouse last night," Maddux said. "It was cool."

Maddux and Torre were inducted on Sunday, along with Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, comprising the largest class of living inductees since 1971.

Next year's class should have no shortage of prestigious candidates. Pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz will be on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the first time, with Craig Biggio (74.8 percent of the required vote for election) and Mike Piazza (62.2 percent) returning for the third time.

Earlier this year, Biggio, who spent his entire 20-year-career with the Astros and amassed 3,060 hits, missed the 75-percent threshold by two votes. Johnson finished 22nd on the all-time list with 303 wins and No. 2 with 4,875 strikeouts, the most of any left-hander. Nolan Ryan is the whiff leader with 5,714.

The difference in the overall voting is that the 16-member Golden Era Committee will be considering players, managers, umpires and executives whose careers spanned the post-integration era from 1947-72. The last time that committee met in late 2011, late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was elected. That makes it less likely there will be a living electee from that era to the Class of 2015.

The Golden Era Committee is one of three that cycle every three years. The Expansion Era Committee -- which reviews candidates whose careers began in 1973 -- unanimously elected Torre, La Russa and Cox last year.

Ryan made a rare appearance at this year's ceremony in honor of Maddux and Glavine, who combined for 660 wins. Maddux had 355, the most of anyone since Warren Spahn retired with 363 after the 1965 season. Glavine had 305, two more than Johnson. The former Rangers president was also present for Saturday's Ford C. Frick Award presentation to longtime Texas play-by-play man Eric Nadel.

Cox said he was honored to be around so much baseball royalty, which included the most recent elected living managers -- Tommy Lasorda (1997) and Whitey Herzog (2010).

"This has been unbelievable, those Hall of Famers are so accommodating and nice," said Cox, who managed the Braves for 29 years spread over two stints. "They talk hitting, they talk pitching. I sat there last night talking pitching with Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver -- not just for 20 minutes, but for a long time -- and [talked] hitting with Eddie Murray and Johnny Bench. You can't beat that."

Torre, now Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, sat with Koufax, Gibson, Seaver, Carlton Fisk and Steve Carlton.

"There wasn't a bad table in the house, as they say, not a bad seat in the house," Torre said.

La Russa said he sat during dinner with Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley, a pretty good table.

"We relived the 1983 playoffs," La Russa said.

In that year's best-of-five American League Championship Series, the Orioles defeated La Russa's White Sox, 3-1. It was the White Sox first trip to the postseason since losing the 1959 World Series to the Dodgers. Baltimore went on to win it all, the last time it has done so, and the only time it won the Fall Classic in Ripken's 21-year career. The shortstop snared the last out to beat the Phillies.

La Russa told Torre about pitchers on both teams throwing at hitters in Games 2 and 3 of the ALCS, leading to a fracas in Game 3 at Chicago's old Comiskey Park after Ripken and Murray were both clipped.

"I told Cal it was the heat of the moment, he hit you in the butt," said La Russa, who is now the D-backs' chief baseball officer. "But it was stupid, and I was stupid for retaliating.

"Rice was talking about hitting at Fenway. He's very bright. Brooks had wonderful recall. It was great, a wonderful table."

These are magical moments behind the scenes shared by some of baseball's most honored people.

"We were like kids," Torre said. "And then you go around asking for autographs, and I was one of them."

"It was good," said Glavine, who sat with Ryan, Dave Winfield and Andre Dawson. "I don't know if you know what to expect, but there wasn't too much ribbing and hazing from the rest of the guys. It was a very good table, a lot of men there much bigger than me. I knew it was going to be a great weekend, a lot of things were going to be unbelievable, and that certainly was the case.

"I guess I would probably say it exceeded my expectations. I say probably, because I knew it was going to be great. I just didn't know how great, but it was great."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["hall_of_fame" ] }
{"event":["hall_of_fame" ] }