“Ever since I was elected in December, people have asked, ‘What’s it feel like to be a Hall of Famer?’” Herzog said. “Now I can tell you what it feels like. It feels like going to heaven before you die.”
As he has so often in the past, Herzog credited Casey Stengel, the Hall of Fame manager of the New York Yankees and Mets, with much of his success.
“Casey told me so many things that became valuable,” Herzog said. “For some reason, he knew that I was going to be a big league manager. When I met Stengel, it was like an enlightening thing because I would go to bed at night, and instead of thinking about girls I would be thinking about what he talked about all day. He had is own language and it took me hours sometimes to figure him out.”
The 80-year-old Harvey, who worked in the National League from 1962 to 1992, called 4,673 regular-season games during his major-league career and also umpired five World Series, six All-Star Games and nine National League Championship Series.
Nicknamed “God” during his heyday because of his authoritative, no-nonsense demeanor on the field, Harvey lived up to the moniker on his special day.
Suffering from throat cancer, Harvey recorded his 20-minute acceptance speech in the spring. It began raining while the video was playing, but by the time he addressed the crowd the sun was shining.
“I want you to notice that I stopped the rain,” he deadpanned in closing.
Harvey, the ninth umpire to be inducted and the first living umpire inducted since Al Barlick in 1989, joked afterward that “I had less rainouts than anyone else in the world.”
“My only ambition has been to improve the profession,” said Harvey, who learned from his father and didn’t attend umpiring school because he couldn’t afford it. “I’ve tried to mentor, teaching them everything I know about the game.”
Harvey clearly was touched by the honor and cried while the recording of his speech was played.
“If you’re a true baseball fan, you need to visit Cooperstown,” he said. “This is home, and you need to touch home. I’ll be watching to make sure you do.”