COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – This week 31 years ago, three big league outfielders and one beloved owner all shared baseball's most prestigious honor.
On Aug. 3, 1980, Baseball Writers' Association of America electees Al Kaline and Duke Snider, along with Veterans Committee electees Chuck Klein and Tom Yawkey, were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
As ESPN broadcast the induction live for the first time, the nation got to see former Kaline, the former Detroit Tigers outfielder, overcome with emotion, choking back tears as he accepted what he called, "the biggest honor of my life."
Kaline was selected in his first year of eligibility with 88.3 percent of the BBWAA vote. At age 20, Kaline became the youngest player to win the American League batting title, averaging .340 in 1955. Kaline went on to become the 12th member of baseball's 3,000 hit club. He ended his career in 1974 with an average of .297 and 1,585 runs batted in.
Snider was a career .295 hitter with 407 home runs – hitting 40 or more home runs five years in a row. However, unlike Kaline, Duke Snider waited a decade before receiving enough BBWAA votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Despite the long wait, Snider was thankful for the honor.
"I thank God for including me in his master plan, for being in the Hall of Fame, for being a Brooklyn Dodger, for being a Los Angeles Dodger," Snider said in his induction speech.
Klein spent 13 years of his 17-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, but also spent time with the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. He was National League MVP in 1932, and won the Triple Crown the following year with a .368 average, 28 home runs and 120 runs batted in.
Despite being the only player in the 20th century to collect 200 or more hits in each of his first five seasons, Chuck Klein never received the necessary 75 percent BBWAA vote needed for election. Twenty-two years after his death, the Veterans Committee selected Klein for induction.
Yawkey, the former Boston Red Sox owner, passed away four hears prior to his induction. However, he was represented by his widow Jean and former Boston Red Sox great and Hall of Famer Ted Williams.
Williams, who had not been to the Hall of Fame since his own induction in 1966, spoke on behalf his former team owner, Yawkey.
"He was someone I loved," Williams said. "Above all, he was one of the greatest sportsmen and humanitarians of this era, or any era."
Yawkey owned the Red Sox for 44 years. While his Red Sox never won the World Series, they captured the American League pennant three times. Yawkey was known as a generous and caring owner who was popular amongst his team and other team owners.
Nicole Pappas is the public relations intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program