Some quick memories:
Tony and Cal made Hall of Fame today. Gossage and Rice deserve to be in too, but they just fell short. I hope the writers will wake up and vote them in. Rice was the most feared hitter in the AL for years and Gossage was the most intimidating closer of his generation.
I had a chance to talk with Tony for about an hour a few years ago when he was calling games for ESPN on Wednesday Night Baseball. Gary Miller is a friend of mine and I helped out with the stats a couple of times in Anaheim. I got there five hours before the game started to get set up and Tony was in the booth at his usual time just waiting for the first pitch.
I asked him about playing in Yankee stadium in the 1998 World Series. He said it was one of the greatest experiences of his life. He loved the NY fans and thought the stadium was everything everybody said it was. The intensity emanating from the right field stands fueled him just as much as it did the Yankee players. He told me how the ground shook when Tino hit the grand slam, but like the true superstar he is, he hit a HR in the first game and went 8-16 and batted an incredible .500 during the Yankees four game sweep. He was very frustrated by the Padres loss, but felt blessed that he had a chance to play in a World Series at all.
I couldn't help myself and sheepishly asked him for an autograph which he immediately signed and afterwards he talked about how much he couldn't wait to coach baseball in SDSU. He got so much enjoyment out of working with young players. He loved to teach as much as anything he had ever done.
Tony didn't have to spend any time with me at all. I was just a staffer, but he just loved to talk about the game of baseball. He's a class act all around and a true Hall of Famer.