The summer celebration of baseball fans of the Midwest continued on Saturday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, one week after Hall of Fame Weekend welcomed visitors to Cooperstown to celebrate Cincinnati’s Barry Larkin, Chicago’s Ron Santo, and three generations of St. Louis Cardinals managers, honored for their World Series titles.
Saturday’s VIPs gained fame in a different ballpark than baseball’s heroes, but their love for the game was on display as they toured the Museum and soaked in baseball history. And their Midwest ties continued to connect among common themes celebrated by the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who hails from outside of St. Louis, and John Stirratt, a longtime Chicago resident, were in town for a Saturday evening concert in Cooperstown. Making their first visit to the Museum, the duo visited the Library and Museum collections, while stopping by the Photo Archives, to learn more about the important role the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum plays in preserving the game’s history.
Tweedy and Sirratt viewed historical documents in the Library, studied photos from the early 1900s and explored selected artifacts from the collection, include Fergie Jenkins’ glove from his final season of 1983.
“These photos are like an analog recording that sounds so clear and vivid,” remarked Tweedy as he viewed items in the Museum’s Photo Collection.
As they completed their tour and headed back on the road, they left with a lifetime of memories and a deeper appreciation of the role of preservation the Hall of Fame plays in keeping alive the stories of the game.
Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Throughout the school year, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s distance learning program allows students around the country to experience the Museum without ever leaving their classroom.
Even with school out for the summer, the Hall of Fame’s education team is still hard at work bringing baseball history to the locations throughout the United States. This summer, Hall of Fame educators have traveled virtually to locations in Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and California, to discuss a variety of baseball related topics.
Popular summer venues for distance learning programs include libraries, community and senior centers, and schools hosting professional development seminars for educators. This past week, children participating in a summer camp program at the Dallas Children’s Library were treated to a virtual tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame and a lesson on preserving and caring for their own collectibles and treasures. A day later a group of seniors in Beachwood, Ohio, had the opportunity to examine a collection of documents from the Museum’s library, while sharing their memories of baseball in the 1930s and beyond.
Visitors to Cooperstown can also share in the distance learning experience by connecting to some exciting baseball destinations. Weekly programs take Museum visitors to such places as the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and AT&T Park in San Francisco.
“With these programs, our visitors have the unique opportunity to not only experience the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but visit places that are thousands of miles away,” said Steve Light, the Museum’s manager of museum programs. “It allows them to tour that ballpark they never made it to, or get the inside scoop on the process of manufacturing bats. This is our third year offering distance learning programs for public audiences and they have been a huge hit.”
To schedule a distance learning program with the Baseball Hall of Fame for your school, library or community center, please contact the Education department at 607-547-0347 or email Education@Baseballhall.org.
Julie Wilson is the manager of school programming at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
As part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Awards Presentation, which honored Fox Sports broadcaster Tim McCarver with the Ford C. Frick Award and Toronto Sun sportswriter Bob Elliott with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award during a ceremony held at Doubleday Field on Saturday afternoon, three generations of St. Louis Cardinals World Series champions were also saluted.
Recognized as the living Redbirds managers to lead the franchise to Fall Classic glory were Red Schoendienst (1967), Whitey Herzog(1982) and Tony La Russa (2006 and 2011). Afterwards, La Russa, standing near the historic ballpark’s first-base dugout, talked about what it had meant to him to lead the team for the past 16 seasons before retiring only days after capturing last year’s title.
“One of the really, really neat things about that franchise is that those fans have given us great support,” said La Russa, less than two weeks from managing the National League to an 8-0 victory in the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. “They support their stars and without exception the great stars have never disappointed them. They’ve been great people. It’s really overwhelming.
“In 2006, when (Hall of Fame pitcher Bob) Gibson walks by the office and says, ‘Hey, now you’re finally in the club,’ that meant a lot (knowing that La Russa had won the World Series for the first time with the Cardinals that year). It’s just a perfect marriage – the fan support, the players give back, and they all take turns making each other feel good about the commitment they make.”
La Russa was made aware of what was expected of him when he took over the Cardinals’ reins in 1996 and found himself at spring training with franchise legends such as Stan Musial.
“Mostly, it was real clear how much they were invested in,” La Russa said. “It wasn’t like, ‘We had put in our time and now were here to spend a week in Florida.’ They were really in there watching the club, they had opinions about what we needed, who was pitching and when. These guys, they want us to pick the best team and do the best we can. That was true all 16 years.
“I think it’s one of the best things that happens is how much the guys of the past still pay attention and want each club to add to the history. You feel this burden or responsibility but it’s healthy – it motivates you.”
When La Russa retired, he had a career big league managing record of 2,728-2,365 over 33 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s and Cardinals. The four-time Manager of the Year finished with six pennants and three World Series titles.
“After 33 years it was time for somebody else to do it. Everybody passes the baton,” La Russa said. “The game is still great. They’ve got managers all over the place that are doing great. They needed exactly what we needed, which was to be part of an organization that gives you good players. Then you have a chance to win. The game goes on and on. Nobody is too important.”
While La Russa had been to Cooperstown before, skippering the White Sox in the now-defunct Hall of Fame Game in 1980 and ’82, he took a long pause when asked if the next time he comes back could possible involve his own bonze plaque in the famed gallery. La Russa will be eligible for the first time with the Class of 2014.
“I don’t think you take anything for granted,” he said. “I think about it but I also know that Joe (Torre) and Bobby (Cox) retired a year earlier so it looks to me like they’re in line before I am.”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Among the estimated 18,000 fans who attended the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for shortstop Barry Larkin and third baseman Ron Santo on Sunday afternoon were a number of their former big league teammates who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness such a historic occasion for a friend.
Making the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, and soaking up the sun near the induction stage, were second baseman Glenn Beckert and catcher Randy Hundley, who, along with Santo, were parts of some great Chicago Cubs teams of the 1960s.
“I’m so honored that my ex-roommate and one of my greatest friends, Ron Santo, is being inducted. He’s not here with us but he’s probably watching from above,” said Beckert of Santo, who passed away at the age of 70 in 2010. “When I first came to the Cubs in ’65 – he had come up in ’60 – he asked me to room with him. I told my mother and dad, and I thought it was a great honor. But after the third year I found nobody else on the team wanted to room with him.
“He was a great friend, and we teased each other a lot.”
According to Hundley, election to the Hall of Fame was something Santo always wanted.
“He’s very deserving of it, so we’re here to celebrate it today. I feel like he’s still here with us,” Hundley said. “He was the best as far as I’m concerned. He could make any of the plays that needed to be made. He was an excellent fielder and took a lot of pride in it.”
As for Santo’s diabetes, Hundley explained he wasn’t aware of it for a number of years while the two were teammates.
“He kept it a secret because he was afraid baseball wouldn’t allow him to play,” Hundley said. “It’s amazing that he had to deal with it and how well he dealt with it. He did so much for diabetics all over the country.”
When Larkin made his big league debut in 1986 with the Cincinnati Reds, the only team he would play for in his 19-year career, a number of veterans on that team, including outfielders Dave Parker and Eric Davis, would lend their support. Later in his induction speech, Larkin would acknowledge the pair’s positive influence on his life.
“One of my baseball sons, Barry Larkin, has been elected to the Hall of Fame,” Parker said just minutes before the ceremony’s start. “I was with him in the beginning and he had a great 19 years in the majors and he’s getting his just due, and that’s a Hall of Fame induction.
“I just tried to put him under my wing and show him what it takes to be a major league player. And with his ability, he was destined to be a star.”
This past weekend was the first time the longtime friends had a chance to catch up since Larkin’s received the news of his Hall of Fame election in January.
“We saw each other last night for the first time since he was elected to the Hall of Fame and we just gave each other an embrace,” Parker said. “We really didn’t have to say anything. We just gave each other a big hug.”
While Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in his third year of eligibility, Davis felt he should have gone in on the first ballot.
“This is not just for him – this is for everybody. And to be able to play 20 years in one city that you grew up in, having the success that you had, that’s special,” Davis said. “When you saw Barry, you saw specialness. I can’t sit here and say that I knew that he was going to be a Hall of Famer, but you knew that he was going to be a special player.”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
For 196 of the 205 days so far in 2012, Barry Larkin has been a Hall of Famer.
But he didn’t really believe it until he slipped that Hall of Fame ring on his finger this weekend.
The quiet and understated Larkin slipped out of character on Sunday at the Induction Ceremony, celebrating on stage with exuberant shouts – “This is un-stinking believable!” he told the crowd of 18,000 fans at the Induction Site – and tearing up while thanking his family and friends. On Monday, with the festivities wrapping up, Larkin returned to his calm demeanor, swapping stories with Hall of Fame teammates Tony Pérez and Billy Williams at a Voices of the Game event inside the Clark Sports Center.
But before heading onstage, Larkin recounted a moment at Sunday’s Hall of Famer dinner – the moment where Cooperstown went from a concept to reality.
“Frank Robinson told me that now that I have the ring, it’s official,” Larkin said. “Frank said that until I got that ring, they could have taken it all away. He was joking, but I would have believed him. The ring makes it seem real.”
Barry Larkin: Class of 2012. That has a nice ring to it.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
On a picture perfect day in Cooperstown, several hundred Cubs fans gathered for a Cubs Fanfest on the back lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum, overlooking Otsego Lake. Owner Tom Ricketts and the Cubs sponsored the event as a celebration of the life and career of Ron Santo, the team’s newest representative in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The master of ceremonies was Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes, who teamed with Santo to broadcast the Cubs for 15 seasons, 1996 to 2010. Hughes led several panel discussions, telling stories, interviewing panelists, and soliciting questions, recollections and Santo stories from the audience, which was clad in every imaginable item of Cub related clothing.
The first panel featured Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins, whom Hughes introduced as ‘The greatest pitcher in Cubs history.” Ernie Banks told a poignant story of Ron Santo accepting Mrs. Banks’ invitation to Ernie’s birthday party. According to Banks, Santo was the first white teammate who journeyed to the south side of Chicago to join in such a celebration.”
The second panel featured Ron Santo’s three children, Ron Santo Jr., Linda Santo, and Jeff Santo. The third panel featured Santo teammates Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley.
Throughout the event, Hughes repeatedly turned the microphone over to the audience for Santo stories. One young man told of the time he was 13 years old, and approached Santo in a hotel lobby in San Diego hoping for an autograph. Santo spent more than a half hour talking baseball with the boy and his family. The story was greeted by a murmur of recognition from the crowd, used to hearing about Santo’s love for life and baseball and especially, for Cubs fans.
Proceeds from the party’s ten-dollar admission charge were split between the Cubs charities and the Hall of Fame. Attendees received a copy of a book on Santo, and were treated to a fabulous buffet which covered all the bases. But the real treat was seeing so many Cubs stars reminisce about Santo, whose special relationship with Cubs fans pervaded the atmosphere.
Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Standing on the first tee at the Leatherstocking Golf Course at Saturday’s Hall of Fame Golf Tournament, Barry Larkin gazed out over the beautiful Cooperstown landscape and exhaled a great breath.
“I don’t know that it’s sunk in yet,” said Larkin on the eve of his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame. “But it will.”
Larkin’s Saturday started with the annual Hall of Famer golf tournament as he gears up for Sunday’s induction ceremony. The golf outing is always a favorite of the returning Hall of Famers – whether it’s because of the camaraderie or the tranquil setting… or just getting a chance to watch Hall of Fame teammates like Jim Rice crush drives more than 300 yards.
A cloudy morning gave way to sunshine as the tournament progressed, leaving everybody sure that all was right in Cooperstown.
“I really enjoy coming back here,” said Billy Williams, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987 and who is celebrating this year’s election of the late Ron Santo, who played with Williams on the Cubs and joins Larkin as the members of the Class of 2012. “And when the sun came out today, we knew that Ron was looking down on us and smiling.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum