Festival of Baseball Fun
Under beautiful sunny skies, baseball fans from around the country spent Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field for the inaugural Classic Fest during Hall of Fame Classic Weekend.
Whether it was competing in a trivia game, being fitted for a balloon animal hat, or learning about baseball card collecting, families were enjoying the day and celebrating Father’s Day Weekend on the legendary diamond.
Seven-year-old friends Victoria Marrero and Samantha Shilling met in the morning at the Legends for Youth Skills Clinic. Marrero hails from Brooklyn and Shilling is from Maryland, but you’d never guess these two weren’t best friends.
“We just met this morning,” said Marrero.
Former major leaguers took the field at 9 a.m. to share their baseball knowledge with youngsters.
“We learned how to pitch and hit,” said Shilling.
By 1 p.m. the girls had ladybug balloon bracelets and tried out their skills at the MLB Network Strike Zone, where fans could test their pitching accuracy. Fans got to meet Pappy, the mascot for the Tri-City ValleyCats and even some former major leaguers like Dave Henderson who showed off his 1989 World Series ring.
“Are you fast?” Henderson asked a young fan who replied in the affirmative. “Then I can’t let you try on my ring – because I won’t be able to catch you.”
Henderson joked with fans and posed for pictures along side other players like Steve Grilli, John Doherty and Frank Catalanotto.
A table dedicated to the making of a baseball taught fans that there are 369 yards of string wrapped inside a ball, which would measure almost four football fields. Fans were able to compare a ball from the late 1800s that used lemon peel stitches to a current major league baseball.
“They call is a lemon peel because all the stitches end in a point and you could peel it like a lemon,” said Jennifer Rodger, a member of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame for the summer.
Near the infield, Bill “Spaceman” Lee was entertaining fans of all ages, preparing for his role tomorrow when he joins six Hall of Famers and 25 former major leaguers in the position of Designated Humorist in the Hall of Fame Classic.
“Hitting and pitching, that’s all I do,” said Lee. “It’s the running part that I don’t want to do – it’s starting to hurt at my age.”
A jokester known for his wacky antics, Lee pitched for 14 seasons in the majors from 1969-82 and is the third-winningest lefty in Red Sox history. At age 63, Lee became the oldest person to pitch in and win a minor league game on September 5, 2010 when he made an appearance for the Brockton Rox. Lee donated his cap from the game to the Hall of Fame.
“I may need that back because they want me to play another year,” said Lee. “Last year I was day-to-day, but this year I told them I am hour-to-hour.”
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.