They arrived in uniform at Doubleday Field on Friday, holding their dad’s hand with one arm and clutching their ball glove with the other.
Fathers and sons, parents and children. And in the case of the Wygant Family, four generations of baseball fans.
The annual Youth Skills Clinic, presented by the Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, was once again connecting generations through the National Pastime.
“My dad and I were here 50 years ago for the Hall of Fame game, and then my son and I were here 23 years ago,” said Gary Wygant, who traveled from Atlanta – where he is the director of recycling development for Coca-Coca Recycling – for Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. “Now, my grandson Riley is here at the Skills Clinic. We have four generations in this ballpark.”
The Youth Skills Clinic launched the Classic Weekend festivities on Friday as hundreds of children received hands-on baseball lessons from former major leaguers like John Doherty, Dmitri Young and Jesse Barfield – all of whom will play in Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic. Riley, a White Sox fan like his father Rob Wygant, hustled from station to station in the afternoon sun, soaking in the rays and the words of wisdom from the former players.
Meanwhile, Riley’s great-grandfather – Bob Wygant – looked down at Doubleday Field from the right field stands and remembered a rainy day in 1962.
“I haven’t been back since then, but I remember like it was yesterday,” said Bob Wygant, who grew up in nearby Albany, N.Y., and attended the 1962 Hall of Fame Game with his son Gary. “It rained during the game (the contest between the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Braves was eventually canceled), and Gary and I tried to stay dry in a culvert but ended up with water up to our knees.
“I was a teacher during my working days, and to see all these kids out there – along with my grandson, as part of four generations of our family – is very special.”
The connection for families continues today in Cooperstown, with the Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field. It’s a connection that baseball continues to foster – throughout the generations.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum