A grateful Rolen tips cap to family in Hall of Fame speech

July 23rd, 2023

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – His voice breaking at the first mention of his family, gracefully accepted his membership in baseball's most exclusive club. Rolen delivered a heartfelt speech honoring his family and his hometown on Sunday as he was formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Centering on both the family that raised him and the one he has raised over the past two decades, Rolen took attendees at the Clark Sports Center back to his home in Jasper, Ind., as well as through his 17-year big league career.

“I dreamed of being a Major League baseball player,” he said, “but I was not raised to be a Major League baseball player. I was raised to be honest, to work hard, to be accountable for my words and actions, and to treat people with kindness and respect.”

Parental bonds were threaded throughout Rolen’s speech. He honored his mother Linda and his father Ed, his wife Niki, and his daughter Raine and son Finn, all of whom anchored him over the years. He paid tribute to his Jasper Wildcats high school team, as well as Finn’s Indiana Bulls youth baseball team, which he coaches.

“I became a man, a husband, a father, and I damn near traveled with Charley all over this great country,” he said. “Baseball was my career, but it is not my story. My story begins and ends with the people sitting in front of me. My role models lived in the same house as me.”

He particularly singled out the advice his dad gave him at age 18 when his amateur basketball career seemed to be hitting a dead end. Rolen recalled telling his father all the things he couldn’t do, and his father instead asking him what he could do.

The young man ticked off a series of ways he could give effort to make a difference, and his dad had four simple words.

“Well, do that, then.”

It stuck.

“It turns out ‘Well, do that then,’ carried me into the Minor Leagues and gave me a simple mindset that I would never allow myself to be unprepared or outworked,” Rolen said. “‘Well, do that, then,’ put me on this stage today.”

It matched a message he consistently delivered during his playing career. Even when he slumped, even when the game grew frustrating or became especially difficult, Rolen always vowed that if nothing else, he could outwork and out-prepare everyone else.

Rolen also demonstrated his trademark self-effacement on Sunday, acknowledging the enormity of the experience of standing before 48 living Hall of Famers.

“I want to thank the baseball writers for having faith and sticking with me throughout my career and the voting process,” he said. “I am grateful for this grand gesture. At no point in my lifetime did it ever occur to me that I would be standing on this stage, but I’m glad it occurred to you because this is unbelievably special.”

He singled out each of the four organizations with which he played, noting the benefits he experienced in each place, and quipped that he’d have to explain the experience of multiple career landing spots to one-team stars Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones.

But mostly he focused on his parents, his wife, and his children, remembering his 1996 debut in Philadelphia as the highlight of his career.

“The greatest moment of my career happened that day. Seeing Mom and Dad walk to their seats from my position at third base was a feeling never topped again in my 17 years.”

His parents, then Niki, and later Raine and Finn, remained by his side throughout his career. In the speech’s most poignant moment, Rolen shared a connection that tied all three generations.

He explained that his mother had a tradition of waving at him at the beginning of every home game, and that Rolen acknowledged her with a subtle tapping of his cap. As Raine grew older, she began wearing a cap to games to tip to her dad. He thanked his mother for that before coming to a conclusion.

Scott Rolen concludes his induction speech with a tip of his Hall of Fame cap to all those who helped him in his career. (Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos)

“In baseball, I am a Jasper Wildcat,” he said. “I am an Indiana Bull. I am a Philadelphia Phillie, I am a St. Louis Cardinal, I am a Toronto Blue Jay, I am a Cincinnati Red. And today because of all your support, I am a National Baseball Hall of Famer. In my life, I am a friend, I am a brother, I am a son, I am a husband, and I am the greatest gift, a father.”

Rolen took out a Hall of Fame cap, tipped it towards his assembled loved ones and finished:

“So, Nik, Raine, Finn, Todd, Sis, Dad, and Mom. Thank you. I love you.”