UPI Focus;NEWLN:Gretzky inducted into Hall of Fame

Nov. 22, 1999
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TORONTO, Nov. 22 -- Canadian hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Monday, without having to go through the usual three-year waiting period.

Gretzky retired from professional hockey after his last game in the National Hockey League in April.

He told reporters he missed the game $?'more than the game misses Wayne Gretzky.'

Some 200 journalists from around the world were at hand for ceremonies in which he put on the Hall of Fame blazer and ring.

Gretzky, who first put on skates at the age of 2-1/2, said he hoped his career in hockey would inspire children who are told they cannot reach the heights.

$?'I was told that I was not big enough and maybe not fast enough and not strong enough' for professional hockey, he said, but had gone on to become someone whom$?'kids can look to and say, 'Well, he made it, maybe I can make it.''

Gretzky broke almost every scoring record before ending a 20-year career in professional hockey last spring, at the age of 38. He said he was proud to have played in the NHL.

$?'What I miss the most,' he said,$?'is the interaction with my team mates, going to the locker room and passages and riding on the bus, being together after a big win.'

Gretzky disclosed in September that he suffered from osteoarthritis, despite his young age. He now spends more time with his family and makes a living by appearing in television commercials.

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