Until We Meet Again by Jordan Critz | ReverbNation
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There are so many people to thank today that have influenced my life and my career. Those of you that know me, this is gonna be difficult. I have a tendency to elaborate at times, so I am gonna try to do my best. Just bear with me. I would be remiss if I did not say a few words in French. So here it goes. J'aimerais remercier tous les participants, les Expos, Mets, Giants et Dodgers. Mes amis, merci beaucoup. I would also like to congratulate Hal McCoy for his great journalism through the years.
All the pleasant times coming into the clubhouse. And to Bob Uecker, for all the fantastic years of broadcasting.
I am so humbled to stand before you all and be in the presence of all these great Hall of Famers. This has been a terrific weekend and I would like to thank all the people involved with the Hall of Fame.
Willie Stargell Quotes
I had a dream as a young boy like all of these Hall of Famers up here, to be a professional athlete. I was blessed with a gift and I thank the Lord above for the wonderful, wonderful opportunity to have played this great game of baseball.
I played all the sports as a young boy, but it was always baseball that I loved the most. I collected baseball cards as a hobby, and one day dreamed of what it would be like to have my picture on one of those cards. You see, I always have been a fan of the game first and a ballplayer second. My dream became a reality in when the Montreal Expos drafted me in the third round. In high school my main sport was football as an All-American quarterback.
Most of my scholarship offers from colleges were for football, not for baseball. So I had to think and pray hard and long to help make my decision. My decision was altered after a serious knee injury which resulted in sitting out my entire senior football season.
After surgery and rehab I played the basketball season, but I was looking so forward to playing my passion, baseball. It is funny because my primary positions in high school were as a pitcher and an infielder.
During I only caught five or six game my senior year of high school. But during those five or six games a scout by the name of Bob Zuk, who is here with us today, believed I could become a big league catcher some day. He held true to his word, and on the night of the draft, at 18 years of age, I signed a contract with the Expos and started making plans to head off to Jamestown, New York.
Bob, thanks for believing in me. So off I went to New York for a two-week tryout camp to determine where I was going to play that year. And it was there that Bill McKenzie, my first catching coach, who taught me all the fundamentals and techniques about catching. He was the one who taught me how to catch. Thanks, Bill, for your motivation and discipline.
And it was there in Jamestown, New York, where the journey began. I would like to thank all the coaches and managers I played for. However, there is one manager who has left such an impact on my life and in my career and that was Karl Kuehl, who is with us today. I remember he would throw tennis balls to me, worked on my hitting, and to get out of the way of pitches.
And he would even charge me 25 cents for every ball that I would drop when I was catching in a game. This, of course, helped me to concentrate better and helped me focus. And truly, I dropped a lot of balls when I was playing in the minor leagues, so this really did help. I would also like to thank all of my teammates, some of them that are in the audience today.
Thank you for inspiring me, making the game more fun and enjoyable. A lot of great memories that I will never forget. After two-and-a-half years in the minor leagues being groomed as a catcher, I began my rookie season in the major leagues in The Expos started me in the outfield.
Well, that was when I could run pretty good and had some pretty decent knees.
We need you!
Well, there it was Johnny Bench who befriended me and kind of took me under his wing. By then Johnny had established himself as one of, if not, the greatest of all time.
He had already won two MVP awards and had developed the one-handed style of catching. And also as one of the best defensive catchers there ever was.
Maybe, just maybe, he saw a little of him in me. We had a picture taken together and later I asked him if he would sign it for me. And there is something special, I truly feel, about being a catcher, that only another catcher can understand. So, Yogi, Pudge, J. It is an honor to enjoy being a part of this great fraternity. Well, after two and a half years playing mostly in the outfield, I finally got a chance to play every day behind the plate in Dick Williams was instrumental in making that happen.
From that point on, the rest was history. You see, going to a baseball game, just like you guys are here today, and sitting in the stands is like going to that happy place where you can leave your worries behind. One of my favorite lines comes from a movie, Field of Dreams, and it goes something like this: The feeling you get when you go to a ball game, walking through the aisles to your seats, sitting in your shirt sleeves, on a perfect afternoon.
You find your reserve seat somewhere along the baselines, and acting as if you were a kid again. Yes, the one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, built and erased again, but Baseball has marked the time. A few more people who kept me on track, especially on the business side of baseball, were Dick Moss and Matt Merola.
He represented me in all aspects as an agent and I appreciated the guidance and direction that he gave me. He encouraged me to be accommodating to the press, the fans, and made sure I always looked my best. I also want to extend a very special thank you to my good friend, Mead Chasky. I have known this man for a long time, when he was a huge fan and would hang around the team bus and would get autographs from all the players.
What a godsend you have been. Nothing will ever top that and the memories will last forever. All of you that were there, everybody, will remember the dramatic Game Six and certainly the way we came back in that series. I will be forever grateful to the Expos for beginning my career and winding up my career in The Lord gave me a storybook ending of my career in front of over 40, fans.
My last at-bat was a game-winning double, and after hobbling to second base I left the game to a standing ovation. There is nothing like the roar of the crowd. Even though we only shared one year together with the Dodgers, I always respected your desire and your professionalism. In the midst of a large crowd, Eddie handed that broken bat to a smiling little boy.
That boy happened to be my son, D. He was only six years old at the time and he ran into the clubhouse to show me what he had just gotten. And that, right there, was the start of the Carter-Murray connection.
Okay, this is where it might get a little tough.
I want to take this time to thank the most important people in my life. Above all, I want to thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. A great verse that spoke to me while writing my speech, and kind of explains what it is all about, it comes in Psalms The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior. And my God is my rock in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold.
I will call on the Lord who is worthy of praise. I praise the Lord, my God, my best friend, for giving me the ability, the desire, the love and the guidance that brought me here today. Without you, I would be nothing. I love my parents very, very much. I only had my mother until I was just 12 years of age, but I always felt her presence throughout my career.
He was always there for me. He coached me in Little League, Pony League, and American Legion and also supported me in any other sport I played, constantly encouraging me. He would go early with me to the ballpark and would stay until the end.
Lyrics containing the term: until we meet again by jordan critz
That meant everyone out of the clubhouse, except the team. I have a pretty good hand. I know how happy and proud you guys are today. I am also very blessed to have my other parents, my in-laws, mom and dad, my brother-in-law, Jim, who are with me today.
They have known me since I was 16 years old and have watched me grow up. Thanks for all your love and support throughout the years, and always opening up your home in California for after-game celebrations. Well, as for my big brother, Gordon, who is four years older than me, I thank you for being such an amazing role model for me growing up.
That had a positive influence on my development as a player. The only time he and I were teammates was during a winter semi-pro instructional league in the Bay Area one year. Our team included me; Willie; Leroy Reams, who appeared briefly in the major leagues; and Mike Murphy, who has been the Giants' clubhouse guy since the team moved to San Francisco. Later, we were teammates several times in the All-Star Game. And whenever my team played Pittsburgh, Willie and I would go out.
We always seemed to have a great time together. He was always taking me to dinner. Willie was already a star, and it was the first All-Star Game I ever started. He reinforced all the positives, telling me I probably should have made the the All-Star team before that year. He also told me I should do something special, now that I was there. At the time I didn't think about being the game's MVP, but every time I was at bat or on the field, I thought about what he said to me.
In the 40 years I knew Willie, he never said anything negative. And you couldn't say anything negative around him because he was such a positive person. No matter what, he was always able to turn negatives into positives.
When we played against the Pirates, he might be stuck in an 0-for slump. But Willie would always say, "I'm fine. Only Reggie Jackson struck out more times than Willie in major-league history. But it didn't matter; he felt his next at-bat would be better. And that's the way he lived his life. InWillie united his teammates and led them to a championship.
But he also united an entire city. He made everyone in Pittsburgh feel like they were part of "We Are Family," the theme of their ballclub.
But that was Willie -- a man of inclusion, including everyone he met into part of who he was and what he was about. He was the kind of leader we need to lead our nation. I don't know if we have had a leader like Willie even in the White House. He is the greatest leader I have ever seen or been around. Anyone you talk to would tell you the same thing. When our careers ended, we didn't spend as much time together because he lived in Wilmington and I lived in the Bay Area.
We would talk on the phone and see each other at least twice a year. As a broadcaster, I would see him more often when he was coaching with the Atlanta Braves. Before he passed away, I had not seen him in six months.
I knew he was very ill because I was told he didn't look good when he threw out the last ball at Three Rivers Stadium last year. Anyone who knew Willie has lost a great friend.
I will miss seeing him each summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown. Forty years after our first meeting, it's ironic that the big guy and the little guy from Oakland ended up in the Hall of Fame together. Stargell intimidated pitchers as he set up at the plate with the distinctive pinwheel twirl of his bat that kept time with the pitchers' motion.
Some of the home runs he hit are among the longest in the game, including two shots that cleared Dodger Stadium and balls hit out of the old Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Did you know he did it twice during his career?