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Ortiz is among 7 players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

In Cooperstown, N.Y., yesterday, seven players were inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: No. 34, David Ortiz.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Ortiz is taking on the look of a superhero

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #3: David Ortiz with another chance to win it.

MARTINEZ: To Red Sox fans, Ortiz will always be known as Big Papi. He's a three-time World Series champion, and he earned the distinction of being the only designated hitter to enter the Hall in his first year of eligibility.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Ortiz grew up in the Dominican Republic, and he was signed to play in the big leagues at just 17 years old. Here's how he summed up his success to NBC's Bob Costas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVID ORTIZ: Easier way to explain is, I got nothing to lose (laughter). I guess I realized, at one point, I was doing something that I know was going to put my family in a better situation, better lifestyle. I was all in.

MARTINEZ: Ortiz was joined by fellow inductees Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges, Bud Fowler and Buck O'Neil. Buck was a champion of the Negro Leagues, a three-time All-Star, the first Black coach in Major League Baseball history, and one of the game's great storytellers.

FADEL: In an interview from 1998 with David Letterman, O'Neil talked about the quality of play in the Negro Leagues.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

BUCK O'NEIL: The Major League All-Stars were actually just making the payday, but we had to prove - we were trying to prove to the world that they weren't superior because they were white...

DAVID LETTERMAN: Right.

O'NEIL: ...And we weren't inferior because we were Black.

LETTERMAN: Yeah.

O'NEIL: We had a point to prove. So we would stretch that single into a double, that double into a triple, that triple into a home run.

(APPLAUSE)

MARTINEZ: Buck O'Neil was inducted into the Hall of Fame postuous (ph) yesterday. He died in 2006 at the age of 94. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.