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'Holy Toledo' moment for voices of baseball

Writer Smith, broadcaster King and Robinson honored with awards
MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Their names have been linked to Major League Baseball for decades. Their stories -- the written, the spoken and the legendary -- are weaved into the fabric of the sport.

On Saturday at Doubleday Field, Claire Smith, Bill King and Rachel Robinson officially cemented their places in Hall of Fame history and baseball lore.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Their names have been linked to Major League Baseball for decades. Their stories -- the written, the spoken and the legendary -- are weaved into the fabric of the sport.

On Saturday at Doubleday Field, Claire Smith, Bill King and Rachel Robinson officially cemented their places in Hall of Fame history and baseball lore.

:: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

King's stepdaughter Kathleen Lowenthal said it best, "I think this is a 'Holy Toledo!' moment. It is for me."

Smith received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing" from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and King was posthumously honored as the Ford C. Frick Award winner for excellence in baseball broadcasting.

• Pioneering writer Smith receives Spink Award

Robinson, the widow of Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame second baseman Jackie Robinson and founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, received the Buck O'Neil Award, which honors an individual "whose efforts broadened the game's appeal and whose character, integrity and dignity is comparable to the late O'Neil."

• Robinson honored in Cooperstown

The Hall of Fame Awards presentation also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the release of the film "A League of Their Own."

MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- begins with MLB Tonight today at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, you can watch a rebroadcast of the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on MLB Network.

"Like the pebble in a pond, the honor of being the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner sent out the most beautiful ripples, which are now washing up on the shores of Lake Otsego, and they magically carried my family and me to the most memorable moment in my career," Smith said in the opening of her acceptance speech.

Smith, who is the first female recipient of the Spink Award, was one of the first women to cover a Major League Baseball beat on a full-time basis. During her career, Smith covered the Yankees for the Hartford Courant starting in 1983 for five years and later worked as a baseball columnist for The New York Times from 1991-98 and The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She now works at ESPN as a news editor.

Video: Claire Smith on adversity coming up in sports

Patrick Saunders, president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, introduced Smith to the crowd. She was given a standing ovation when she stepped to the microphone.

One of the Bay Area's iconic voices, King was the first to be honored Saturday. He began his career as a fill-in on Giants broadcasts and later did play-by-play for the Raiders and Warriors. He called the A's games for 25 years starting in 1981. His signature handlebar mustache, and his "Holy Toledo!" catchphrase were legendary. King died in 2005.

Video: Lowenthal discusses King's love of broadcasting

Hall of Famer Joe Morgan shared his memories of King and later introduced Lowenthal, who shared stories of her stepfather.

"Bill never sought out any awards of any kind, but he was only human, and he certainly enjoyed the accolades," Lowenthal said. "But never in a million years did he believe that he would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When people would bring it up, he would brush it aside, and fans, friends and colleagues brought it up all of the time, even I did. Bill loved broadcasting. He just really loved talking to you."

Video: DET@OAK: A's honor Bill King with 'Holy Toledo' sign

The Robinsons' contributions to baseball are immeasurable. The couple created the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation to help build and manage housing for moderate and low-income citizens. She formed the Foundation in Jackie's honor to provide college scholarships and leadership training shortly after his death.

Video: Rachel Robinson looks back on O'Neil Award honor

"I'm honored to receive the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award," Robinson said. "Buck O'Neil was a staunch champion of baseball and worked to promote inclusiveness within the sport. I'm truly gratified to be associated with your recognition of Buck in this way. I'd like to acknowledge and congratulate Bill King and Claire Smith, and congratulate this year's Hall of Fame inductees, especially my longtime friend Bud Selig."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.