Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame Weekend ’

Baseball legends enjoy small ball

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr
 
7-25-09-Carr_Smith.jpgWade Boggs turned to the crowd along Lake Avenue and asked them to cheer.
 
“What a shot!” said Boggs of his foursome teammate, who was playing in Saturday morning Hall of Fame Golf Invitational in Cooperstown. “C’mon, let me hear it!”

Boggs, Hall of Fame Class of 2005, was soaking up his fifth Hall of Fame Weekend while playing with 23 other Hall of Famers at the legendary Leatherstocking Golf Course on a sunny Induction Weekend morning in Cooperstown. After receiving a huge cheer from the fans along Lake Avenue – which parallels the No. 5 fairway – Boggs signed autographs before heading for the No. 6 tee to speak with about 40 assembled media members.

7-25-09-Carr_Rice.jpgClass of 2009 member Jim Rice, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday along with Rickey Henderson and Joe Gordon, played in a group just after Boggs. Sporting a yellow shirt that was almost as bright as the smile he has worn since being elected in January, Rice used his prodigious strength to bash several long drives.

“The guy could break his bat on a check swing, he’s that strong,” said fellow Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers who believed Rice would have the longest drive of the day.

Fingers also remembered how much he enjoyed watching Rice slowly walk back to the dugout after Fingers struck him out.

“It didn’t happen very often, but when it did, I enjoyed watching him the whole way.”

Fingers struck Rice out seven times in 21 plate appearances, but Rice does have a home run and a .368 batting average against him.

Goose Gossage, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008, also remembers Rice’s strength.

“I always said nobody scared me, but Jim came the closest,” he said.

7-25-09-Carr_HendersonGordon.jpgGossage is the one guy that can relate to the nerves Rice and Henderson are feeling – because he went through it all just last year.

“It still doesn’t quite sink in being here,” Gossage said. “I am more relaxed this year, but I don’t know how many years it will take before it sinks in.”

Not everyone can hit the ball as far as Rice, but it didn’t stop them from some good old fashion fooling around among the Hall of Famers.

Lou Brock told onlookers to look away as he drove off the first tee. After hitting his shot, he announced that everyone was OK to look again because they can’t see where the ball went.

Dave Winfield talked about him teammate – and Class of 2009 electee – Rickey Henderson and what a leader he was on the field. When asked about Rickey’s speech, Winfield showed confidence.

“I think he’ll do fine. He is nice and relaxed this weekend and he’ll be fine.”

Of course, all the Hall of Famers gave speech advice to Rice and Henderson and it was all the same advice – keep it short.

The advice of Hall of Famers is always welcome to the newcomers.

“It’s great to be out here with these guys, some of them I played with and know well and some of them I really admire,” said Rice.

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

Bo Duke comes to Cooperstown

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Was that really Bo Duke?

John Schneider, who famously portrayed Bo Duke on the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” from 1979-85, could be found on Cooperstown’s Main Street in front of the KeyBank building signing autographs on Friday.

7-24-09-Francis_Schneiders.jpg“My brother Bob lives in Cooperstown right around the corner, and he teaches people how to paint beautiful landscapes right up here at the top of the bank building,” said Schneider between posing for pictures and signing photos for fans. “I was doing a movie in Florida and Bob said, ‘Hey, you’re on the East Coast. Come through Cooperstown on your way. It’s Induction Weekend.’ I wish my 17-year-old son was here.”

Besides “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Schneider has had starring roles on such series as “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and “Smallville.” He’s even portrayed a few baseball players over the years.

“I played several baseball players, mostly knuckleball players, on television,” Schneider said. “On a show called “Grand Slam” (1990) I played a guy named Dennis Bakelenekoff and another one for Aaron Spelling I played a dead guy who was a knuckleball pitcher called “Heaven Help Us” (1994), and that didn’t last very long either.”

While he played a knuckleball pitcher, he couldn’t master the elusive pitch. But he did get to meet one of the pitch’s masters today.

7-24-09-Francis_DukesCast.jpg“Here’s the thrill of a lifetime. It’s when somebody says, ‘I’d like to shake your hand,’ and I turn and it’s (Hall of Famer) Phil Niekro,” Schneider said. “What a nice man and what an honor to have Phil Niekro want to meet me. He’s a hero. So my weekend was made right there.”

Though he was a baseball fan while growing up in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Schneider has been away from the game for a little while.

“I played Little League as a kid. I was a first baseman and they called me Stretch. But I’ve been so busy I haven’t been following it a lot,” Schneider said. “I grew up a Tom Seaver fan, an Amazing Mets fan. We’re talking about ’69. One of the first Super 8 movies I had on my Kodak projector was called “The Amazing Mets.” In those days Gil Hodges and the gang were my favorites.”

Today, Schneider’s 17-year-old son is a big fan.

“I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame with my son a couple years ago and Chasen read every word on every plaque in that building. It was the greatest thing,” Schneider said. “We use to call him Stats because at 14 he could tell you everything about anybody.”

Schneider can be found outside the KeyBank building in Cooperstown for the rest of Induction Weekend.

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

Hall of Famers, fans get together to PLAY Ball

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Richard Mole and his son Kevin drove more than 300 miles to play ball with the legends on Friday. So there was no way a little rain was going to slow them down.

“This is so great – I’m here listening to Wade Boggs and Ozzie Smith,” said Richard Mole, an Andover, Ohio, resident who participated in the Hall of Fame’s PLAY Ball event on Friday morning at Doubleday Field. “That’s amazing! I can’t believe I’m actually here.”

7-24-09-Muder_Boggs.jpgMole, a participant in the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program, promised his son more than 20 years ago that they would come to Cooperstown when Rickey Henderson was inducted.

Promise made, promise kept.

PLAY Ball, which raises money for the diversity scholarships for the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program, gave participants the chance to interact with host Ozzie Smith and fellow Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Murray. Though the skies were cloudy, smiles were everywhere as fans listened to stories from the Hall of Famers and played ball on Doubleday Field.

And a surprise guest visited, too. Tony Kubek, winner of the 2009 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence, stopped by Doubleday Field and signed autographs for fans. It was a moment that only happens in Cooperstown.

PLAY Ball kicked off Induction Weekend, which features family-friendly events throughout the weekend. For a complete list of events, visit us at www.baseballhall.org.

Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as the Class of 2009 at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.

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

Follow the Weekend on Twitter!

7-22-09-Horn_Doubleday.jpgHorn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

You can follow the entire Hall of Fame Weekend 2009 through Twitter, by following @AbnerDoubleday all weekend along  —  with updates direct from Cooperstown, New York.

I  will keep you posted on all the latest happenings, events and special moments of Induction Weekend 2009.

Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice will be enshrined as the Class of 2009 at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Also, don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook and at baseballhall.org.

Induction Week Memories

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

After this Sunday’s Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. EDT, nine men who have worn the San Diego Padres uniform will have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Of those nine, Lillian Edmondson and Ann Spraker will have seen eight.

7-21-09-Hayes_InductionWeek.jpgThe two women have seen Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Gaylord Perry, Ozzie Smith, Dick Williams and Dave Winfield grace the stage at Clark Sports Center after making the cross-country pilgrimage from San Diego to Cooperstown. Spraker, who is originally from Upstate New York, always made an annual trip, but 20 years ago Edmondson started coming along as well.

“We come to Cooperstown every year because it’s a beautiful place,” Edmondson said on Tuesday. “And the Hall of Fame is great.”

This year the two will see their eighth Padre inducted into the Hall of Fame – they missed the induction of Willie McCovey in 1986 – when Rickey Henderson joins Jim Rice and Joe Gordon as the Induction Class of 2009.

“We had Rickey for a little while and then we traded him, but then he came back and when he came back, he made the game fun, lively and interesting,” Edmondson said. “When Rickey was on base, look out. You never knew what was going to happen.”

Henderson holds a place in Edmondson and Spraker’s hearts, but one man stands above the rest: Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. Now with Tony Gwynn Jr. playing in San Diego, it’s a bit of a trip back in time.

“It’s fun when you look up at the scoreboard and see a Tony Gwynn batting,” Edmondson said. “We had to be here the year Tony went in as well as Cal Ripken – two very high-class individuals.”

That summer they enrolled in the Hall of Fame Membership Program for the first time – something they’ve done every year since. Spraker said they wanted to make sure they weren’t going to miss out on any of the events.

“We wanted to be sure we didn’t miss out on anything,” Spraker said. “It was the most fantastic week. Everyone was wearing clothes of both teams and just being courteous to each other.”

As veterans of several Inductions prior to 2007, they knew Hall of Fame Weekend provides a lot to do, but a few events are exclusive for members. There are still tickets for a few of this year’s the Member events, including:


7-21-09-Hayes_PLAYBall.jpgFriday July 24 -
PLAY Ball! with Ozzie Smith, an opportunity to interact at Doubleday Field with the Wizard and fellow Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Murray. (8:30 a.m.)

The Legends for Youth Skills Clinic gives children (5 to 12) a chance to enhance their baseball skills with former major leaguers on historic Doubleday Field. (1:30 p.m.)

Saturday July 25 -
At Connecting Generations, audience participants will compete with Goose Gossage, Ryne Sandberg and Dick Williams in a trivia contest moderated by former major leaguer and MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds. (3 p.m., Clark Sports Center)

Monday July 27 -
The Legends Series Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice relive the memories from their playing careers. (10:30 a.m., Clark Sports Center)

To become a member click here and to reserve tickets for Member exclusive Induction Weekend events call 607.547.0397.

Trevor Hayes is editorial production manager for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Henderson right at home at Hall of Fame

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

With his back to plaques of some of the most famous players in baseball history, Rickey Henderson sat down and was immediately confronted with microphones, flash bulbs and notepads. But if he had been any more relaxed, you’d have thought he was on his couch at home.

Fitting, since the Man of Steal was always most composed in the midst of utter chaos on the baseball diamond. It was Henderson — and his singular baserunning ability — who always made others nervous

5-8-09-Muder_Rickey.jpgHenderson and his wife Pamela came to Cooperstown on Friday for his orientation tour. With only 11 weeks until his July 26 induction into the Hall of Fame, Henderson had a chance to visit the Museum and learn what to expect during the weekend that will be the crown jewel of his record-setting career.

“It’s great to see all the history here,” Henderson said. “I think you don’t feel it until you get here.”

His tour completed, Henderson held court with the media — recounting stories and reflecting on his accomplishments. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in January on his first appearance on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot — garnering almost 95 percent of the vote.

As the career leader in runs (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406), Henderson’s election was no surprise. But the minute the call came this winter, Henderson’s life changed forever.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks doing what I’ve been doing since January: Preparing for Hall of Fame Weekend,” Henderson said. “It’s only going to happen once, so I’m going to enjoy it.”

Henderson will join Jim Rice and Joe Gordon as the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame. For more details on Hall of Fame Weekend — including the free Induction Ceremony — visit www.baseballhall.org.

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

Love of baseball grows in spring

Idelson_90.jpgBy Jeff Idelson

Just back to Cooperstown after a nine-day road trip to Los Angeles, for the WBC; Phoenix, to meet with a couple of owners; and Florida, for some fundraising initiatives. My trip home from Florida on Sunday was fine, though my string of six straight Southwest flights in seat 11C – exit row aisle – came to an end.  Hey, at least I got an aisle seat.

 The main thrust of my visit to Florida was our annual Hall of Fame Champions Grapefruit League trip. We have a great circle of Champions –  individuals and couples who support the Hall of Fame at $5,000 or more.  In return for supporting our educational mission, Champions receive invitations to events across the country with Hall of Famers, spring training games in Florida and Arizona, exhibit openings, Hall of Fame Weekend and the Hall of Fame Classic, all with exclusive access.

4-3-09-Idelson_Roberts.jpgTwo weeks ago we were in Arizona to see the A’s and Mariners play. A’s General Manager Billy Beane joined us for a while before the game, and we had dinner with Hall of Famer Billy Williams.

For our Grapefruit League endeavor, we headed for Ft. Myers. Hall of Fame Vice President and Chief Curator Ted Spencer, named after Ted Williams, Senior Development Director Ken Meifert, whose heart belongs to the Indians, and I, were joined by Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

We picked up the Hall of Fame right-hander at his home outside Tampa. “The Rays are selling out every game this spring,” beamed the longtime Phillie, about his hometown Tampa Bay Rays.

We headed south to Naples, where I talked to Robin about his career. “Sure I met Cy Young. I asked him how he won all those games and he told me he held the ball way back in his hand. I met Cobb too. He told me, ‘I wish I had a few less hits and a few more friends.'”

In Napes, we met Champion Jay Baker for lunch. Jay is a long-time Yankees fan and history buff, and along with his wife Patty, an ardent supporter of many philanthropic causes, such as the Hall of Fame. 

Over lunch, I asked Robin if he had ever been in a movie. “No, but Ashburn and I met Spencer Tracy when he was filming Judgment at Nuremberg,” he said. “What a nice man.”

Robin then quipped, “I was on television once, on What’s My Line (YouTube clip of Robin). The panel had to try and guess my off-season job, which was with the Neptunalia Seafood Company. I was president of Gold King and we sold frozen shrimp. No one could figure out what I did, but they sure came close.”

“I was on Murphy Brown,” quipped Baker. “If you watch carefully, you can see me. I was so smooth we did it on one take,” he laughed.

We spent the afternoon seeing two impressive private baseball collections – Jay’s and the one of another area Champion, Don Gunther. Both are wonderful examples of how the game means so much to people personally. They are both inspired by their love of the game and its history, akin to what happens to visitors every day in Cooperstown.

Jay and Patty generously hosted a Champions recruiting dinner that evening in Naples. There were 24 dinner guests, including former major leaguer Sterling Hitchcock, and we spent the evening all sharing personal stories about what the game means to each of us. 

Robin reminisced about meeting Grover Cleveland Alexander in grade school in Springfield, Illinois. “We had a two-room school house for 8 grades. Alexander was the special guest one day when I was in the eighth grade. He told us, ‘Baseball is a great game. Don’t drink. Look what it did to me.’ Sad, but true.”  

Hitchcock recounted how he grew up unhappy with George Brett who once refused to sign an autograph for him as a high school student. He told his fiancée (who became his wife) that if he ever made the majors, he would hit Brett with a pitch.

4-3-09-Idelson_Hitchcock.jpgNot too many years later, making his major league debut at Yankee Stadium, Hitchcock hit Brett on the elbow, very much by mistake. The phone rang that night, and Sterling’s mother-in-law, who was watching the game, remembered the story and thought he had done it on purpose. “Of course, I hadn’t, nor would I ever do that” said Hitchcock, laughing.

The dinner conversation was delightful, with everyone sharing childhood memories of how they first fell in love with the game.  

Jim Collias, a retired neurosurgeon from Yale-New Haven Medical Center, recalled growing up in Boston’s South End. “Mr. Yawkey gave a bunch of us jobs working in the clubhouse during the Depression. I have fond memories of being in Fenway Park and Mr. Yawkey was a nice man. We also were sent to the train station to get the players’ bags when the team arrived in town. We all got very excited to welcome the Yankees, though Joe DiMaggio would never let us carry his bag. He would just shake his head, ‘No.'”

Saturday was spent in City of Palms Park, home to the Red Sox, who played the Twins.   Brad Penny and Francisco Liriano pitched, and – aided by some serious wind blowing out to left field –  Rocco Baldelli, Big Papi and Jason Bay all hit home runs in a Red Sox victory.

Thanks to the generosity of the Red Sox, we enjoyed the afternoon from the owners’ suite.  A number of our Champions and recruits enjoyed the beautiful weather and the pristine ballpark while talking baseball all afternoon. 

Cincinnati-based champion Buck Newsome and his wife Robin traveled in for the game with Robin keeping a detailed scorebook. “This book’s only for spring training,” she explained to me “and I like this style scorebook, because it allows me to count pitches.” The Newsomes are my kind of people — ones who adore the game.

Robin (the pitcher, not the scorekeeper) and I were on the field before the game and we spoke with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Things sure have changed in pitching,” said Robin to Ron.  “My pitching coach and mentor, Cy Perkins’, instruction to me was pretty simple.  He said, ‘Kid, you can really pitch, keep it up; stay ahead of the batter, and; don’t get past 2-2 on a hitter.’ That was it.” 

After the game, we headed north to Sarasota to have dinner with Reds’ owner Bob Castellini and his wife, Susie, along with their son Bob, Jr., team general manager Walt Jocketty and Hall of Fame champion Bob Crotty. The dinner was wonderful. We talked to the Castellinis about the Hall of Fame and its programs and shared a lot of laughs.

On the way back to Tampa, I asked Robin about how he developed such an effective curveball. “Sal Maglie,” said Robin. “I pitched against ‘The Barber’ on opening day in 1952 and watched how he really shortened up his delivery with the curveball. So, I copied it, won 28 games that year, and never told him.”

We dropped Robin off at home around 11:30 pm, concluding a great couple of days with a group of friends who truly love the game of baseball.

Jeff Idelson is the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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