COOPERSTOWN _ Tony Kubek did his Ford C. Frick Award speech the same way a good broadcaster calls a game.
Without a script.
Kubek went off the cuff Sunday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown, sharing stories of his playing days and broadcasting career without the help of cue cards or a written speech in front of the estimated 21,000 fans at the Clark Sports Center.
His nearly 15-minute speech, the longest of the day, covered tales from his playing days. He also thanked family members and colleagues from his broadcast days.
"This place is magical," Kubek said. "Somebody set (the Hall of Fame) in this area with a purpose that has sustained what it means and for baseball people, especially you fans here watching, it's got to feel like a slice of heaven.
"I've tried to figure out why people are so passionate about this game," he continued. "Because even these great Hall of Famers got beaten down by the game. But they still set the standard. It's like you're in a box with a lock on it. You want to get out. But you can't. You don't want to get out. You want to stay part of it. And I'm glad I'm a little part of it right now."
Kubek may have found the answer after all, though.
"As I walk the streets in Cooperstown, I figured out why there is such passion for this game," he said. "I saw the smiles on people's faces. We've got terrible economic times, wars going on. Seems like the world is chaotic. And yet, people can come here or go to a ballgame and they can smile just a little bit. It's an amazing game."
Mainly a shortstop for his nine-year playing career with the New York Yankees, Kubek won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1957 and was a three-time All-Star.