I waited 24 years to hear Bill Mazeroski's acceptance speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
As short as it was, however, it will go down in history as one of the most emotional ever delivered at the home of baseball's all-time greats.
Overcome with emotion, Maz was able to deliver only several paragraphs of a 12-page speech he had prepared. He went down faster than one of those low-inside dusters that he witnessed for so many years.
Lincoln had his Gettysburg address and now Maz had one of his own at Cooperstown. When Maz broke down at the podium, there were others, and Hall of Famers at that, who felt the emotions and the feelings of the one-time Pittsburgh Pirates' second baseman, who could turn a double-play faster than any man alive. There were many others there in Cooperstown that had tears in their eyes, also, including a number of the Hall of Famers.
Mazeroski's speech, or lack of one, will leave a lasting memory in the hearts and memories of past and future baseball greats. He is now immortalized in the Hall where champions walk the grounds. It is their home.
Defensive genius: In Pittsburgh where Maz was one of the greatest second basemen in Buc history, Pirate fans will never forget him or his manner of play. His Gold Glove career spanned 16 years with the Bucs and no one can forget his thunderous home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series that won it all for the Pirates. That four-bagger, by the way, was the only homer to ever end a Game 7.
Maz and everything about him made him a Pirate favorite from the first time he took the field as a Buc. Not only was he a defensive whiz but he played the game hard and he played to win. He was a competitor.
In 1972 Maz decided it was time to hang up his glove. He retired that year with a .260 career batting average. He did think that with a batting average only that high, he would never be a candidate for Cooperstown.
There is however more to baseball than just swinging a bat. And the writers in recent years have become more alert as to the capabilities and prowess of the defensive stars of the game. Maz fell right into that mold. After 24 years of waiting and being eligible, the baseball gods smile on Maz and sent him on a road trip to Cooperstown. It couldn't have happened to a greater guy or a better player. He earned his stripes as one of the better defensive players of the game.
I can only say this: If I happened to be one of these writers making the selections, Maz would have been a happy camper many years ago. He certainly deserved it. Great speech, Maz. You had me crying, too.
Westminster gets grant: Westminster College is one of just three colleges in the nation to receive an Undergraduate Internship Grant for the 2001-2002 academic year from the College Sports Information Directors of America. (Co-SIDA).
The CoSIDA Undergraduate Internship Program is designed to assist member institution sports information offices with funds to support the addition of undergraduate internships. To be eligible for the award, Westminster submitted an application form, a one-page declaration of need outlining the personnel structure of the office, and the number of varsity sports covered. Greensboro (N.C.) College and West Chester (Pa.) University were the other two schools to receive grants for 2001-2002.
The Westminster student receiving the CoSIDA Grant of $2,500 for the 2001-2002 school year will be Todd Lepovsky. Lepovsky has worked as a statistician for football, basketball and volleyball in the Westminster sports information office for the past two years under sports information director Joe Onderko.
A native of Verona, Pa., and a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Lepovsky will work specifically with the volleyball, swimming and baseball programs at Westminster during the upcoming academic year.