By Bill Francis
It was appropriate that an event entitled Connecting Generations attracted such a wide range of audience members.
Father and sons, mothers and daughters, grandfather and grandsons – the whole gamut of family members – were in view as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum held its popular annual event again this year at the Clark Sports Center. The gymnasium floor was filled with approximately 750 baseball fans to witness the game “Hall of Fame Feud”, based on the television show “Family Feud,” on Saturday afternoon.
The game pitted a trio of Hall of Famers – manager Dick Williams, second baseman Ryne Sandberg and relief pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage – against four four-person family groups that followed one another.
With Harold Reynolds, the 12-year big league second baseman and current MLB Network studio analyst, serving as the host, the hour-long game began.
“They’re not that mean,” Reynolds said to the first family, referring to the Hall of Famers. “Try us,” joked Williams.
The Hall of Fame had conducted a number of recent polls asking 100 fans a various questions. The top five responses were used in the game. The questions included such things as, “Who is your favorite Hall of Famer,?” “Who is your favorite Hall of Fame manager?” and “Which team do fans love to hate?”
It was one of the day’s final questions that brought the greatest response from the audience.
“Which team’s fans suffer the most?” asked Reynolds, and it was as if everybody in the audience was thinking the same thing, laughing and shouting out one answer. Reynolds let former Cub Sandberg, with a big grin on his face, give the top response. “I guess we should fittingly start with Ryne Sandberg for this one,” Reynolds said. Sandberg’s response, with percent comic timing: “Let me think…”
Reynolds committed the game’s only error when he forgot to ask one family for their final answer to possibly steal the points from the Hall of Famers. To rectify the matter, he volunteered a Gossage autograph for the thrilled Yankee fans.
Besides the game, there was banter throughout among the former big leaguers. After a discussion with former manager Williams and current minor league manager Sandberg about the frustration of pitchers not throwing strikes, Gossage told the crowd, “I want to tell you kids out there that you have no chance to win if you don’t throw strikes. Zero. And that’s what’s so frustrating about it. That’s it. Bottom line.”
The game came to end soon after, with the three Hall of Famers defeating the fans by a final score of 50-36. But this day audience members and Hall of Famers alike went home winners with smiles on their faces.
Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.