Heroes’ welcome

By Craig Muder

The appropriate fanfare was missing: No grand entrances, no trumpets to herald the moment.

Instead, the gathering of baseball immortals this weekend in Dallas just seemed to materialize – as if pre-ordained.

Which, of course, it was. But knowing that Hall of Famers will congregate for the Golden Era Committee election is much different that actually watching it happen. And watching it happen on Saturday night was truly special.

Juan Marichal was first, appearing in the hotel lobby moments before dinnertime. At 74, he still brightens the room with a smile – an expression that comes easily for him when discussing a just-completed cruise he took with more than 30 family members.

In a corner of the room, Ralph Kiner chats with 2011 Buck O’Neil Award winner Roland Hemond. Then Brooks Robinson makes his way into the group.

These men – the National Pastime’s ultimate heroes – gathered at Baseball’s Winter Meetings to work. Their charge: Consider the 10 candidates on the Golden Era Committee Hall of Fame ballot. Sixteen experts, including eight Hall of Famers, five executives and three veteran media members.

Within 48 hours of their arrival, their work was complete, as the Hall of Fame announced Monday that Ron Santo would be the newest legend to join their ranks in Cooperstown. And yet they seemed to savor every minute, enjoying the rare chance to see old friends and share new memories.

And just like that, they were gone. But the magic they created lingered on for all who saw them.

No fanfare necessary… Not when true heroes are in your midst.

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

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