But on the crowning day of their professional baseball lives, in front of more than 53,000 people, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were key cogs on the Detroit Tigers' last World Series championship team in 1984, showed authenticity in front of the second-largest crowd ever to attend a Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
On a sun-splashed but seasonably comfortable Sunday afternoon in the middle of the New York countryside, Trammell delivered a speech high on efficiency and simplicity, a speech which began by ad-libbing, "I hear you," as a throng of Tiger fans chanted, "Let's go Tigers!"
Morris heard those same cheers and let out a long, drawn out, "Hello, Cooperstown!" to begin his. Once again proving his doubters wrong _ one of whom guaranteed Morris would break down in tears at some point during the speech _ his voice cracked when talking about his family, but his composure was kept intact.
For players who were accustomed to performing in front of thousands of people, many times on the biggest stage, their induction speeches _ which had hung over their heads for the better part of eight months _ provided another opportunity for a Hall of Fame performance.
"Looking out there, it's just a wave of people as far as your nerves and anxiety," Trammell said. "It's almost. ... Well, it is like you're playing. To give you a little comparison, when you're young and you get into the big leagues, you're kind of looking star struck and all that, but you realize, when you're real players, that it's just kind of a mirage.
"You know there's people there but you're focusing on what you have to do. ... We wanted, as athletes, even though we're not playing anymore, we wanted to do a good job."
Standing before Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980, Trammell spoke of how proud he was to have played all 20 of his seasons in Detroit.
He talked extensively of partner Lou Whitaker _ together, they turned more double plays than any combination in major league history _ and said, "My hope is you'll be up here someday as well."
He thanked former manager Sparky Anderson, who before this day was the only representative of that 1984 Tigers team in the Hall of Fame, saying, "I know Sparky is smiling down on us all today."
Trammell spoke second in the order of six inductees, which also included Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman and Cleveland Indians first baseman Jim Thome: The placement was fitting, as Trammell hit second during much of his time with the Tigers.
Alan Trammell was the last to leave the stage in Cooperstown, N.Y. He stuck around to shake the hands of Tigers fans who made it to the front, including Clayton Bolgos, 65 of Ann Arbor.
Morris was the fifth player to take the podium, after his plaque was unveiled for the first time.
"Intense competitor with a spirited drive and determination," the plaque reads.
Morris' unfruitful 15 years on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot was agonizing. He knew _ as the winningest pitcher of the 1980s, with four World Series rings _ he was deserving of the honor, victimized by new-age statistics which often do not evaluate players on the singular number Morris wanted to be evaluated by: Wins.
"I believe in the human heart and human spirit, and no analytics can define them," he said. "There is no telling what you can accomplish if you have the will and desire to try."
He spoke of the honor of being voted in by his peers on the Modern Era Committee, many of whom played against him. He thanked baseball writers for their votes, too.
During his playing days, Morris wore his emotions on his sleeve. Such was expected of his induction speech, which he had long dreamt of delivering, and yet the precision he had Sunday was akin to the way he played in big games in his career.
"I knew the two parts of the speech I was going to get a little emotional," he said. "The whole family thing was going to be a little bit more. Roger Craig, who's getting up there in years, Sparky, all those guys meant so much to me, and I knew those guys were going to be the key parts to get through.
"When I took a deep breath and just walked up there with a smile on my face, I knew I was going to be fine. And quite honestly, the first two words that I said, which might have been the corniest thing anyone's ever said here _ "Hello, Cooperstown," and the way I said it _ was to give me a breather. Whether I had a reaction or not, it was for me, so I could breathe. So yeah, I'm going to collect a lot of money from a lot of people who had odds against me on whether I was going to be, emotionally, a mess."
The entire weekend had a strong Tigers flavor to it, a presence that was unmistakable from Friday afternoon on. The ovations for Trammell and Morris were louder than the others. It did not surprise the Trammell, who received a preview of things to come a day earlier, when Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Costas mentioned the legendary Ernie Harwell in his speech.
"You remember the applause," Trammell said. "Later on, I thought to myself, 'I shouldn't be surprised.' Tiger followers, Tiger nation, Tiger fans, it's always been that way. Wherever we went, we had a very big support cast. We felt it and obviously, it felt good."
In his speech, which lasted a timely 12 minutes and 23 seconds, Trammell evoked Harwell's name in summing up a spectacular weekend for Tigers fans.
"Today is as much about you as it is for me," he said. "Your support over all these years has been a great deal to me and today, all Tigers fans can celebrate.
"Like Ernie Harwell used to say when the Tigers turned a double play, you get two for the price of one with Jack and I going into the Hall of Fame together."
And what a memorable one it was.