Returning Hall of Famers took turns reading the text of those players' plaques in their honor. Former Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr., who eclipsed Gehrig's longstanding record for consecutive games, was chosen to read the inscription on the Iron Horse's plaque, while former Cincinnati second baseman Joe Morgan read Hornsby's.
Ruppert, O'Day and White — the Class of 2013 — made the festivities something out of the ordinary. For only the second time in 42 years, baseball writers failed to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame, sending a firm signal that stars of the Steroids Era — including Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, who didn't even come close in their first year of eligibility — will be judged in a different light.
Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, has watched his vote totals decrease. He received 24 percent in 2010 — a vote before he acknowledged using steroids and human growth hormone — and received 17 percent this year on his seventh try.
Six years ago, a record crowd of over 70,000 descended on this one-stoplight village for the induction ceremony honoring Ripken and Tony Gwynn. Sunday's inclement weather — the start of the ceremony was delayed by rain — figured to affect the turnout, and it was sparse— only 32 Hall of Famers returned.
Still, Tisch Farley and husband John drove up from the Philadelphia area and were in the front row of spectators behind a snow fence to the right of the stage.
"We can say we've been at the most-crowded induction and the least crowded," Tisch Farley said with a pained smile.
It was John's 20th straight year and the 12th for Keith Pittman of Terre Haute, Ind., but they played second fiddle to their annual Hall of Fame buddy, Jim Mishk.
"I come to this every year," said the 58-year-old Mishk, who is from Fishkill, just north of New York City, and has a streak of 32 straight induction ceremonies. "This is part of my normal vacation. I love baseball."
Mishk was asked about the small turnout.
"The Bonds, the Sosas, the McGwires, they're the reason this crowd is like this," Mishk said. "The people in town are the ones suffering, not the ballplayers. This is a once-a-year thing (financially) for the town, and their selfishness ruined this. This is sad."