Rookies of the Year
By Craig Muder
Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice are rookies all over again.
Henderson and Rice, members of the Class of 2009 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, met the media on Saturday afternoon for the last time before Sunday’s Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown. Neither seemed nervous about their induction speeches, and both have enjoyed every minute of their time in the limelight.
Even — it seems — when their soon-to-be fellow Hall of Famers are reminding them of their non-veteran status in Cooperstown.
“They told us we were going to have to sing Sunday night at dinner,” Henderson said. “I can’t sing. Are you singing, Jim?”
Rice, accustomed to vocal exhibitions in his announcing job with NESN, wanted no part of a sing-along.
“We’re not doing that,” said Rice while exchanging a solidarity handshake with his fellow Class of 2009 electee. “If that’s the tradition, then we’re starting a new one.”
However, the returning Hall of Famers — including Bob Feller, who has been an enshrined Hall of Famer for more than half of his 90 years — can be very persuasive.
“The big thing everyone told us about Sunday is not to go long,” Rice said of his Hall of Fame speech. “I think we’ll both be keeping it short.”
However, everyone wanted to hear what Rice and Henderson had to say on Saturday — as national media ranging from the New York Times to ESPN came to Cooperstown. Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. Induction Ceremony — carried live by MLB Network, simulcast at www.baseballhall.org and open to the public for free at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown — also promises to be a must-see.
“Being in front of all those Hall of Famers on that stage — with your family and friends in the audience — that’s even more pressure than coming to the plate with a runner on second with two outs,” Rice said. “But everything here has been great all weekend. There’s no reason to expect it will change tomorrow.”
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.