"The Phillies have been so good the first few years of this century that it is easy to forget how bad they were at the end of last century," Bill Shaikin, a member of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America's board of directors, said while introducing Hagen. "Philadelphia fans are passionate. They wanted to know why their team was so bad. In Paul, they had the perfect person to tell them why. He broke it down for you before anyone on television ever thought to say, 'Let’s break it down for you.' "
Hagen said he was uncomfortable in the spotlight.
"The first rule in journalism is not to make yourself part of the story," he said. "Uncomfortable as it may be, for a few minutes today, I guess I am part of the story."
Hagen got choked up while thanking his parents — who brought him to the Hall of Fame when he was 10 — and again as he thanked his wife and children.
"It is difficult for your family. Even when you are home, you are not home because there’s usually a game that night," he said. "Thank you for sticking with me during my adventures and misadventures. I literally couldn't have done it without you."
Hagen also saluted his fellow beatwriters, who offer daily coverage in the face of fewer staff members and lower pay at newspapers.
"There’s not a lot of glory being a beatwriter," he said. "Even if you write the best article in the world, you have to go out the next day and do it all over again."
The ceremony also paid tribute to Thomas Tull and Dr. Frank Jobe. Tull produced the Jackie Robinson movie "42" and Jobe is the Dodgers physician who invented ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, better known as Tommy John surgery.