Results tagged ‘ Character and Courage Weekend ’

Unforgettable character

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

The fans were lined up at the ticket booth, waiting to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame on a perfect Saturday morning in Cooperstown.

10-9-10-Muder_DawsonC&C.jpgWithout warning, into the foyer walked Andre Dawson for a photo opportunity.

Exactly 26 seconds later, you could hear the hushed gasp: “That’s Andre Dawson!”

Correction: That’s Andre Dawson, Hall of Famer.

“I can’t go too many places any more without being appreciated, so that’s one of the biggest changes since I was elected to the Hall of Fame,” Dawson said. “It has opened my eyes to the fact that I did something that people really appreciated.”

Appreciation for Dawson’s talent and work ethic were on display Saturday as a near-capacity crowd in the Hall of Fame’s Grandstand Theater welcomed him to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame’s Character and Courage Weekend. Dawson participated in a Voices of the Game program where he recounted his career path and discussed the character that resulted in his stellar 21-season big league career.

10-9-10-Muder_Dawson.jpg“I knew I wasn’t flashy, but I wanted to leave it all on the field,” said Dawson, looking fit and relaxed in his first return to Cooperstown since his July 25 induction. “Once someone said that I was like Roberto Clemente – only with bad knees. That’s a huge compliment.”

Clemente is one of three Hall of Famers – along with Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson – who are represented in the Museum’s Character and Courage exhibit. Made possible by through a gift from Hall of Fame supporter Bob Crotty, the permanent exhibit celebrates character and courage on and off the baseball field. The Hall of Fame celebrates character and courage annually during Columbus Day Weekend.

Dawson, who had 12 knee surgeries during a career that saw him become one of baseball’s leading citizens, drew several thunderous ovations during the program while discussing his legendary career.

“I’m not as old as I pretend to be, but I’m very content where I am right now,” said the 56-year-old former outfielder for the Expos, Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins. “This is a way of life now, and I’m thankful for every opportunity.”

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

Gift of gloves

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

10-1-09-Carr_Jeter.jpgFirst Cal Ripken broke Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig‘s “unbreakable” record of consecutive games played. Now, Derek Jeter has passed him for the lead on the all-time Yankees hit list.

It only seems fitting that Gehrig’s records have been broken by players who are respected for their character almost as much as he was.

Gehrig’s hit record lasted seven decades despite having his career cut short because of a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that would claim his life and later bear his name. Gehrig retired at age 35 in 1939.

“Lou Gehrig, being a former captain and what he stood for, you mention his name to any baseball fan around the country, it means a lot,” Jeter said. “I think passing him makes it stand out that much more.”

Jeter donated his batting gloves from the historic game on Sept. 11 – when he recorded his 2,722nd hit as a Yankee – to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and they are currently being accessioned into the Museum. The Yankees captain has four World Series rings, 10 All-Star Game selections and three Gold Gloves during his 15 seasons in the Bronx.

10-1-09-Carr_JeterHit.jpgHe has six seasons of 200-plus hits and ranks 49th on the all-time hit list. At age 35 and healthy, Jeter has a good chance to add to that number and continue making history. He currently sits No. 1 in franchise history in at-bats (8,593), second in stolen bases (300), third in games played (2,136), fourth in runs scored (1,574) and doubles (438) and fifth in career batting average (.317).

Of the 30 major league teams, over half have Hall of Famers for their all-time hits leader. The list includes players like Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.

Gehrig may no longer top the Yankees list, but his legacy in pinstripes will not soon be forgotten. The Baseball Hall of Fame will honor Gehrig, Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson during Character and Courage Weekend Oct. 10-12 in Cooperstown.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

A tribute to character

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Hall of Fame legend Lou Gehrig delivered his memorable “…I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech on July 4, 1939. Seventy years later, little Gehrig Hopson was delivered.

It was on June 10 that Jeff Hopson, a supporter of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Membership Program since 2007, called the Hall of Fame seeking some insight into the life of Lou Gehrig – explaining that he and his wife were considering naming their soon-to-be-adopted son after the longtime Yankees first baseman. 7-9-09-Francis_Hopson.jpgJeff is a big baseball fan, especially the history of the game, and wanted to know if there was anything he may have missed in the Iron Horse’s past that could change his mind.

There wasn’t. In fact, when the Hall of Fame held its first Character and Courage Weekend on Nov. 1, 2008, it unveiled statues of Gehrig, Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson as symbols of the finest characteristics of the human race.

Gehrig James Hopson was born in Glendale, Ariz., on June 12, 2009, the 70th anniversary of the Hall of Fame’s official dedication. Soon after, the Hopsons, Jeff and wife Amy, brought their new son back to their home in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.

Coming up with a middle name was relatively easy, as both Jeff and Amy’s fathers are named James. But that first name would take a little more consideration.

“I probably came up with the idea after I read the Jonathan Eig book (Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig),” said Jeff Hopson in a recent telephone interview. “I’m adopted myself and I started thinking I’d really like to have a boy, and if I have a boy I wonder what I’d name him.

“When I went to the Hall of Fame for the first time two years ago (a 40th birthday present from his wife), I bought three or four Lou Gehrig things. And then I was like, ‘I really like that name Gehrig. It’s unique and it’s different.’ At first I was wondering if my wife would like it.”

According to Amy Hopson, it didn’t take much convincing.

“When my daughter was born (5-year-old Jaelyn) we wanted to come up with a non-traditional name, so hers is a combination of my middle name and the J from Jeff. So when we were thinking of boys names we wanted a non-traditional name as well,” Amy said. “We talked about Gehrig and some other names, and of course that’s the name he’ll have for the rest of his life, so we wanted to make sure we thought about it.

7-9-09-Francis_Gehrigs.jpg“Ultimately, we just liked Gehrig the best. It was nice to find a name that was unique but also stood for something – his character and who he was and how he was courageous through his life. Not just respected as a player but as a man.”

The Hopsons did not tell anyone of their choice until the big day came.

“The first that we told was the birth mom. We told her why, she really liked it, and that made us feel good,” Amy said. “But now that we’ve shared it with family and friends everybody just thinks it’s the greatest. We’ve had a couple people say, ‘Oh, I wish I’d have thought of that.'”

Recently retired pitcher Curt Schilling, a longtime supporter in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named his first son Gehrig.

“Last night the Gary Cooper movie, The Pride of the Yankees, was on and I was watching it and my daughter came in and she said, ‘Why did she call him Gehrig,?'” Jeff said. “I told her, ‘That’s Lou Gehrig. That’s who we named your brother after.’ And she ended up sitting there and watching the whole thing with me.”

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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