Mussina reflects as he’s inducted into Hall of Fame

National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Mike Mussina, Baltimore Oriles and New York Yankees pitcher speaks during an induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday, July 21, 2019, in Cooperstown, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – A lifetime of baseball was whittled to a 12-minute speech for Mike Mussina on Sunday afternoon in a sleepy village in upstate New York.

The Montoursville resident was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday along with former players Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, Lee Smith and Harold Baines.

The professional career of the most accomplished athlete to ever come out of Lycoming County concluded yesterday with the presentation of a plaque with Mussina’s likeness and name which will forever hang from the oak walls in the Plaque Gallery of the Hall of Fame.

But even for Mussina it seemed a little unbelievable as he delivered his 12-minutes speech to an estimated crowd of about 50,000. How could someone whose baseball career began with games of Wiffle Ball with his brother Mark in the backyard have ever reached a point where he’s among the 1 percent of players to be selected for baseball’s most exclusive club?

“My baseball journey began in Montoursville, Pennsylvania,” Mussina said in his speech. “Montoursville is just outside of Williamsport, the home of Little League Baseball. And both are connected to Cooperstown by about a 200-mile stretch of the Susquehanna River.”

How Mussina’s career began and how he got to Cooperstown didn’t so much matter on this day. All that mattered was Mussina and his 270 career victories, his five All-Star Game appearances, and his seven Gold Glove Awards are now a permanent fixture in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Mussina took opportunities Sunday to thank those who made the journey possible, from his parents, Malcolm and Ellie, to high school coach Carter Giles, to Mark Marquess at Stanford, and the hundreds of players who backed him on the fields of Major League stadiums for 18 seasons.

Mussina was grateful on this day for the opportunity the Baltimore Orioles gave him to prove himself as a Major League pitcher and to the New York Yankees for allowing him to continue his career.

“Thank you to baseball for an awesome ride,” Mussina said in closing. “And thank you to all the fans for supporting this great game.”