Heroes welcome

By Craig Muder

The telltale signs were all there on Thursday.

Former major leaguers Paul Blair and Ron Blomberg, signing autographs along Main Street.

SUVs streaming in and out of the village, carrying the likes of Bill Mazeroski, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan as they arrive for their annual July visit to Central New York.

Fans craning their necks on the sidewalks, hoping for a glimpse of greatness.

Hall of Fame Weekend is here. Let the celebration begin.

By night’s end on Thursday, almost all of the 50-plus Hall of Famers scheduled to return to Hall of Fame Weekend will have arrived in Cooperstown. On the hottest day of the year in Otsego County, the “cool” factor was in full force as the game’s greatest stars made their way back to the home of baseball.

On Friday, the action begins in earnest as Ozzie Smith hosts the annual PLAY Ball Museum fundraiser with his Hall of Fame friends Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog. Saturday features the new Hall of Fame Spotlight Series from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Doubleday Field, followed by the new Awards Presentation at 4:30 p.m. The Parade of Legends wraps up a full day of fun at 6 p.m. on Main Street.

Then, the feature attraction: The 2011 Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick – the Class of 2011 – arrived in town midweek to soak in every minute. In just three days, they will have experienced the crowning moment of their professional careers.

It will be over in a heartbeat, baseball’s best weekend. But today, it’s all about anticipation.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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