Febuary 15, 2004

FEBRUARY 15, 2004

CITRUS HILLS, Fla. -- Monte Irvin is known for his work with a bat and a glove. But 10 years ago, he wore a hard hat and used a shovel to break ground on the Ted Williams' Hitters Hall of Fame Museum. Today he became an inductee.

"I waited a long time to receive this award and I'm delighted," said Irvin, who was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1973. "I moved to this community 20 years ago, and Ted and I became good friends. He was always so happy to teach guys the game because he loved to talk baseball."

Irvin, a former Negro Leagues and New York Giants outfielder in the 1940s and '50s, headlined the 11th class to be enshrined, which included seven-time batting champ Rod Carew. Pitchers Luis Tiant and Smoky Joe Wood earned spots on Williams' Wall of Achievement, while current stars Rocco Baldelli of the Devil Rays and Jason Phillips of the Mets were honored as Rookies of the Year.

Irvin, a resident of nearby Sugarmill Woods, Fla., entertained the crowd of a few hundred by reminiscing about his experiences in baseball. The soon-to-be 85-year-old even faced Tiant's father in the Negro Leagues.

Former president George H.W. Bush was scheduled to attend but couldn't make it.