Results tagged ‘ Harmon Killebrew ’
By Craig Muder
The gold ring on his pinkie finger sparkled in the morning sun as Paul Blair signed one autograph after another.
Some remembered Blair as the Gold Glove centerfielder of the 1960s and 70s Baltimore Orioles. Others recalled him as the super-sub on the New York Yankees’ title teams of 1977 and 1978.
But all the fans who lined up to purchase tickets for the Hall of Fame Classic on Saturday enjoyed listening to Blair’s stories – and eagerly anticipated his appearance in the Father’s Day legends game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Blair, who will join Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith at the June 20 Classic, posed for pictures and signed balls and caps for fans waiting to purchase tickets at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The four-time World Series champion was easily identifiable with his 1978 World Series ring, but admitted that the 1966 title he won as a member of the Orioles is his favorite baseball memory.
“We beat the Dodgers, not by scoring a bunch of runs but by playing winning baseball,” said Blair, an eight-time Gold Glove centerfielder. “We shut them out for the final 33 innings of that World Series because our pitchers had two goals when they went to the mound: Don’t walk anyone, and keep the ball in the ballpark. They knew if they did that, we’d make the plays behind them.”
Blair’s fifth-inning home run in Game 3 of the 1966 World Series provided the only run in a 1-0 Orioles’ win, putting Baltimore up 3-games-to-0 and effectively clinching the Series. He would finish his 17-year big league career with two All-Star Game appearances and more than 1,500 hits. Only seven players have ever won more Gold Gloves for their outfield play.
This summer, however, Blair expects to man the infield at the Hall of Fame Classic on Father’s Day.
“I started as an infielder, and that’s where I’m playing now,” said the 66-year-old Blair, who today carries a six handicap on the golf course. “I’m looking forward to coming back in June.”
Participants the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program can purchase tickets for the June 20 Hall of Fame Classic exclusively through March 28 by calling 1-866-849-7770 or visiting www.baseballhall.org. For more information about becoming a Member, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org.
Any tickets remaining on March 29 will be made available to the general public.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Craig Muder
For 22 big league seasons, Goose Gossage scared big league batters like no other pitcher.
But put Gossage on a golf course, and the fearsome reliever turned into a terrified rookie.
“I never golfed – or rarely golfed – when I was a player,” Gossage said. “I didn’t want to be on a golf course all day and then come to the park and screw up a game. But I remember the first golf tournament I ever played in was a day off in Chicago with White Sox. I duck-hooked a ball – I used to swing from my butt – and I hit a ball right over Whitey Ford’s head in the other fairway. I was petrified. If it had hit him, I’d have killed him.”
Ford, a Hall of Famer like Gossage, survived his brush with fate. And this summer, a few lucky fans will share their moment with a legend when Gossage and six other Hall of Famers play in the Cooperstown Golf Classic June 19 at the Leatherstocking Golf Course.
The Cooperstown Golf Classic, a fundraiser for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, is part of Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. The Classic, to be held on Father’s Day at historic Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, will feature seven Hall of Famers along with more than 20 recently retired major leaguers in a legends game.
The Cooperstown Golf Classic will be held the day before on June 19 and will feature Gary Carter, Rollie Fingers, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith and Gossage. Limited to just 28 golfers, participants will have a chance to team with a Hall of Famer and share in the camaraderie with golfers of all skill level in a scramble format.
“I really didn’t start golfing until I left baseball in 1994, but now I’m out there all the time,” said Gossage, a Spring Training instructor with the Yankees who has spent time on the golf course recently with players like Andy Pettitte. “At this stage of my life, golf is one of the only things left to challenge you. It’s going to be a lot of fun to golf in Cooperstown. I can’t wait to get out there with the guys.”
For information and to reserve your spot for the Cooperstown Golf Classic, call 607-547-0310 or visit us online.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Lenny DiFranza
I spent the last weekend of January representing the Baseball Hall of Fame at TwinsFest in the Metrodome, one of baseball’s largest fan fests. It’s great to celebrate the National Pastime in the dead of winter as the baseball world turns its attention from hot stove planning to spring training.
TwinsFest, a fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund begun in 1989, has raised millions of dollars for local organizations. Many fans stopped by our spot in right field to see the artifacts we brought and to say hello, weigh Bert Blyleven’s chances for election to the Hall next year, talk about trips to Cooperstown and sign up for our membership program.
Many Twins fans, young and old, enjoyed over 50 artifacts from the Hall’s collection, like Ty Cobb’s small glove, Lou Gehrig’s jersey from his final season in pinstripes and a tunic from a 1940s Michigan team in the women’s pro league, the AAGPBL. But the most popular items were from Twins history, including the ball Dave Kingman hit into the Dome’s roof in 1984, the ball Gene Larkin knocked into left-center to win the 1991 World Series, hometown hero Joe Mauer’s bats from each of the three seasons he won the AL batting crown and the Hall of Fame plaque of Harmon Killebrew.
Many current Twins were on hand such as Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan and new Twin Jim Thome, as well as former greats Blyleven, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Jack Morris and Tony Oliva. Bob Feller had Frank Howard and Denny McLain at his booth, while Fergie Jenkins led Rollie Fingers and other players raising money for Haitian relief.
Though the Twins have hosted the Hall at TwinsFest for many years, it was my first trip to the Twin Cities. I was impressed by the friendly folks and fantastic food. I only got lost a few times in the downtown skyways and enjoyed a tour of the Twins new outdoor home, Target Field, which looks like a great place to see a game.
After a thrilling season last year and a new ballpark in 2010, I sensed a lot of excitement from the Twins and their fans. It turned out to be one of the biggest TwinsFests they’ve ever had.
Our thanks to Jackie Hoff and the team from the Science Museum of Minnesota, who installed the exhibit and showed me the ropes. The Twins’ staff was great, especially Heidi Sammon, Glo Westerdahl, and their new curator, Clyde Doepner. I hope the Twins and their fans have a great 2010.
Lenny DiFranza is the assistant curator for new media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By Trevor Hayes
For some baseball fans, stats can be the lifeblood of the season, but we can’t forget that the individuals in this game and the moments they create make it worth watching.
Remembering the Mantles: The Hall of Fame’s condolences go out to the Mantle family. On Monday, Mickey Mantle‘s wife, Merlyn passed away at the age of 77. Merlyn, who married Mickey after his rookie season in 1951, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. She passed just three days before the 14th anniversary of Mickey’s death on Thursday. The three-time MVP and Yankee legend died in 1995 of liver cancer at the age of 63. They were married 43 years and will be buried next to each other at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park in Dallas.
Ninth = Second: Alex Rodriguez passed Harmon Killebrew earlier this week with his 574th home run, moving into sole possession of ninth on the all-time list. Rodriguez’s total is the second highest among active players (behind Ken Griffey Jr.) and by passing the Killer, he is behind Babe Ruth‘s 708 bombs in American League history.
Joining a select club: On Monday, Vladimir Guerrero smashed his 399th and 400th career homers, becoming the 45th player in baseball history to reach the mark. More impressively however, Guerrero currently sports a .322 career batting average. Only five players hit 400 home runs and finished their careers with a .320 average or better. They are Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial. Not bad company to keep.
Throwback weekend: The Mets will honor their city’s National League heritage when the Giants come to town this weekend. Throughout the series, the Mets will don white jerseys featuring a blue “NY,” hearkening back to the days of the New York Giants, who wore similar uniforms in 1904, 1907 and 1917-1918. The Giants moved to San Francisco after 1957, but won five World Championships and 14 pennants in New York. During their 75 years in Manhattan, the Giants/Gothams fielded 46 Hall of Famers including 10 who bear the team’s logo on their plaque like Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Christy Mathewson and John McGraw.
On Sunday, the Athletics franchise will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its 1929 World Championship. Oakland will exchange their trademark green and gold for Philly A’s blue and white to mark the occasion. Four Hall of Famers played for the 1929 champs including Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove. They were run by longtime manager Connie Mack, who steered them to a 104-46 record and a victory of the Cubs in the Series. Relatives of Foxx and Mack will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
To see the uniforms being used as a basis for this weekend’s throwbacks, check-out the online Hall’s uniform exhibit: Dressed to the Nines.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Steve Light, the Hall of Fame’s manager of museum programs, ran a live blog from the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown. Readers of his live banter had the ability to comment or ask questions.
11:00 a.m. Good morning everyone, and welcome to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s official live blog for the 2009 Induction Ceremony as we get ready to induct the Hall of Fame’s newest members, Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson, and Jim Rice. My name is Steve Light, and I am the manager of museum programs here at the Hall of Fame. Right now I’m sitting on “Radio Row” here at the Induction Site – The Clark Sports Center. I’ll be bringing you live updates on the ceremony all afternoon, so stay tuned and send me your questions and comments.
The Induction Ceremony is just about two and a half hours away. Right now Hall of Fame staff and volunteers are busy wrapping up all the final preparations. Wondering about the forecast? Right now it’s mostly cloudy and 75 degrees. We do have a threat of isolated thunderstorms this afternoon, but hopefully we’ll stay dry for the ceremony.
11:10 a.m. The crowd has already started to build here. In fact, some fans set up chairs to stake out their spots yesterday morning. If you are in or near Cooperstown, don’t forget that the ceremony is free and open to the public! If you can’t get here, you can catch live coverage on the MLB Network beginning at 12:30. We will also stream the ceremony live on our website, www.baseballhall.org
11:16 a.m. Red Sox Nation has turned out in full force this weekend to celebrate Jim Rice. Catering to the crowd, the big screen next to the stage is playing highlights from the 2004 Red Sox season.
11:35 a.m. 51 Hall of Famers have turned out to welcome their three newest members this weekend. Of course, today is not just about Jim, Joe, and Rickey. We will also honor J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Nick Peters, and Ford C. Frick Award winner Tony Kubek. Peters covered the San Francisco Giants for 47 years, 1961 – 2007. Kubek has worked as an analyst for NBC’s Game of the Week, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the New York Yankees for 30 years. He is also the first exclusively television analyst to win the Frick Award.
11:36 a.m. [Comment From Kevin Brazee]
Do you know who will speak first Henderson or Rice?
11:36 a.m. Great question Kevin! The final order has not been decided yet, but Jim Rice will likely speak first.
11:53 a.m. We’ve had a great weekend here in Cooperstown already. On Friday our annual PLAY Ball! with Ozzie Smith event raised $10,000 for the Hall of Fame’s Educational programs and gave some fans the opportunity of a lifetime to interact with Ozzie, Wade Boggs, Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Murray on Doubleday Field. Yesterday at the Clark Sports Center a crowd of over 750 people watched four families’ compete against Dick Williams, Goose Gossage and Ryne Sandberg in our annual Connecting Generations, a Family Feud-like game show. Harold Reynolds served as the host.
11:56 p.m. The gates have opened in the seated sections and fans begin to stream to their seats as the excitement begins to build. Just about an hour and a half away.
12:04 p.m. Red Sox Nation isn’t alone here in Cooperstown this weekend. The section 3 seats directly behind me are filled with Oakland Athletics’ gear. Feel free to send any questions you might have about today’s Induction Ceremony, and be sure to include where you are from!
12:17 p.m. Let’s talk some stats now, starting with Rickey. Henderson is the 44th player elected on the first ballot. He received 94.8% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Henderson played in 10 All-Star games, won three silver sluggers, and was named the 1990 AL MVP. During his 25 year career he set career records for runs, stolen bases, and walks. The records for runs and stolen bases still stand. Rickey also holds the single season steals record, and led the league in steals a record 12 times.
12:22 p.m. Jim Rice was elected on his 15th year on the Baseball Writers ballot, receiving 76.4% of the vote. He joins two other famous Hall of Fame Red Sox leftfielders, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. In his 16-year major league career Rice was one of the most feared sluggers in the American League. He was an 8-time All-Star, led the league in home runs 3 times and won an AL MVP in 1978.
12:25 p.m. [Comment From C Itle]
I can’t find the stream link. Could you please post it here?
12:26 p.m. The live stream will be posted on the Hall’s website at 12:30 eastern time. Just visit www.baseballhall.org.
12:30 p.m. Nine-time All-Star Joe Gordon was elected on the pre-1943 Veterans Committee ballot. He received 10 of the 12 committee votes. Gordon was a member of five World Series winning teams, and won the 1942 Most Valuable Player Award. During his first six seasons, Gordon and the New York Yankees won five pennants and four World Series titles. He was traded to Cleveland in 1946, and helped lead the Indians to their World Series title in 1948, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 120 runs.
12:33 p.m. A lot of people are asking who is representing Joe Gordon here today. It will be Joe’s daughter, Judy Gordon.
12:35 p.m. A note for all you fans out there who might be attending a major league game today: save your tickets! The Hall will grant free admission to all fans who present a ticket stub from a major league game bearing the date July 26, 2009. This opportunity is good right up until next year’s Induction.
12:47 p.m. I’m getting some more questions about where to find the televised broadcast, so for those joining our live blog late, you can catch live coverage on the MLB Network (their broadcast has already started!) or you can stream them onto your computer via our website, www.baseballhall.org.
Casey is on stage warming up for his annual presentation of “Casey at the Bat”. That surely means the start of the ceremony is getting closer.
12:55 p.m. With Joe Gordon, Rickey Henderson, and Tony Kubek all being honored today, it’s no surprise that Yankees GM Brian Cashman has arrived and is in the audience for today’s ceremony. Another notable name spotted in the audience: Keith Olberman.
Right now on the big screen, 2009 Steele Intern Daniel Sampson interviews MLB Network commentator and former major leaguer Harold Reynolds.
1:00 p.m. [Comment From Fitz – Boston]
Have you seen Freddie Lynn in the crowd? Any other Rice teammates?
1:00 p.m. Haven’t seen Fred Lynn, Fitz. But Dwight Evans is in town.
1:05 p.m. Other former teammates expected today: Dave Henderson and Bob Montgomery for Rice and Dave Stewart for Henderson.
Casey is at the bat on the Induction Stage right now, 25 minutes to go!
1:11 p.m. Can’t make it to Cooperstown today? How about tomorrow morning? We conclude our Hall of Fame Weekend festivities with our annual Legends Series event right here at the Clark Sports Center. Rickey and Jim will sit down for an interview to reflect on their experiences this weekend, which must have been a whirlwind for them. Tickets ($10) are still available by contacting the Hall of Fame’s membership department.
1:17 p.m. Well if Brian Cashman is here for the Yankee Inductees, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Red Sox’s John Henry and Larry Lucchino are here to support Jim Rice (and of course Rickey Henderson, who played for the Red Sox as well).
1:24 p.m. Five minutes to go! Who do you think will get the biggest cheers as the Hall of Famers are announced?
1:30 p.m. The Hall of Famers are on the stage, we’re just about ready to go.
1:30 p.m. And Rickey and Jim have just arrived on stage, to a great ovation from the crowd.
1:37 p.m. President Jeff Idelson and Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark offer welcoming remarks. As Ms. Clark points out, 51 of the 65 living Hall of Famers are on stage today. Where else can you get such a collection of greats in one place at one time?
Now the MC of today’s ceremony is introduced, George Grande. George begins the player introductions.
1:40 p.m. George did a great job having fun with fans and introducing the Hall of Famers during the Red Carpet Arrivals event at the Museum last night as they arrived for a private reception. If you are ever in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend that is definitely an event to check out.
1:47 p.m. [Comment From Shawn Anderson, Illinois]
Which Hall of Famer elicits the biggest hush when he enters the room? Meaning…who makes everyone stop what they are doing?
1:47 p.m. Great question Shawn! I can’t speak for everyone, but for me I am in awe any time I see Willie Mays.
1:48 p.m. Biggest ovation yet? Yaz get’s a prolonged standing O.
1:52 p.m. Juan Marichal is introduced. Juan was at the Hall of Fame earlier this year as we opened a brand new exhibit on baseball in the Caribbean called °Viva Baseball! If you haven’t seen it make sure you come on out to Cooperstown!
Speaking of new exhibits, the Hall also has a brand new exhibit this year entitled Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. Hank is introduced, and the fans deliver another loud ovation.
1:58 p.m. And now this year’s Inductees are introduced, along with Judy Gordon on behalf of her father.
The Red Sox fans make their presence known as Jim Rice is introduced, while shouts of “Rickey” echo through the crowd as George Grande introduces “the greatest leadoff hitter of all time.”
2:12 p.m. A bit of rain has moved in but it hasn’t dampened any spirits. The ceremony is going to be moved along a bit however due to storms expected later this afternoon. After the invocation and national anthems, it’s Joe Gordon’s turn! Bud Selig reads the inscription on the plaque as Hall President Jeff Idelson presents it to the crowd.
2:12 p.m. Judy Gordon takes the podium.
2:16 p.m. Judy talks about how her father reached out to Larry Doby in his first ever day in the major leagues as he desegregated the American League. “This was not an isolated incident. This was how my dad lived his entire life.” She then notes that today marks the 11th anniversary of Doby’s Induction into the Hall of Fame.
2:19 p.m. Here’s an interesting story about the 1948 season with the Cleveland Indians, in which Gordon hit 32 home runs. According to Judy, he received a case of Wheaties and a case of gum for every home run he hit. Judy Gordon: “As I remember, even the dog got more athletic eating the Wheaties.”
2:24 p.m. A very touching moment and a loud standing ovation here as Judy Gordon concludes by indicating that her family considers Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as her father’s final resting place where he will be remembered forever.
Next up: Jim Rice.
2:25 p.m. Anyone have any special memories about watching Rice play? Send them along!
2:28 p.m. Jane Forbes Clark welcomes Jim to the Hall of Fame family, and Bud Selig reads the inscription on his plaque as it is presented to the crowd. Later tonight, that plaque will join Gordon’s and Henderson’s as the Hall of Fame’s curatorial staff will hang them with the other 286 in the Hall of Fame Gallery.
2:29 p.m. The crowd breaks out into a chant of “Let’s Go Red Sox!”
2:36 p.m. Where was Jim when he received the call that he had been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Watching The Young and the Restless.
Jim thanks the Boston Red Sox, with whom he spent his entire major league career. Not only did he help lead them to the AL pennant in his rookie season, but from 1977-1979 he became the only player in big league history to record 35 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 200 hits for three consecutive seasons. One of those years, 1978, he hit 46 home runs and drove in 139 on his way to earning the AL MVP.
2:41 p.m. Another standing ovation for Rice as he concludes his speech, stating that he cannot think of a better place to be – with his fans and with the greatest living ballplayers.
Now, it’s time for Rickey. The fans here have been waiting for this since the announcement in December.
2:46 p.m. The cap on Rickey’s plaque? The A’s of course. The inscription on his plaque begins “Faster than a speeding bullet….” As Selig reads off all nine of Rickey’s team, a loud ovation from the crowd as the Red Sox are mentioned. Now: Rickey takes the podium.
2:47 p.m. Any special memories of watching Rickey play? Send them along!
2:51 p.m. Rickey says that he played so long (25 seasons!) because of his love for the game of baseball. Apparently his dream was to play football for the Oakland Raiders, but his mother was afraid he would get hurt and told him to play baseball. As Rickey points out, mothers always know best.
2:54 p.m. Rickey’s nine teams ties him for second place among Hall of Famers with Goose Gossage and Hoyt Wilhelm. Anyone know who’s first?
2:59 p.m. The answer to that previous question: Dan Brouthers.
Rickey’s take on his nine teams – it was a great chance to meet fans all across the country. Henderson: “It is the fan who make the game fun. To the fans: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your support over the years.”
3:01 p.m. Rickey closes his speech by stating how humbling it is to now be considered in a class of the greatest players of all time. He receives a prolonged ovation from the fans.
3:03 p.m. Don’t go anywhere folks – we have plenty of ceremony left, and we haven’t yet heard from Tony Kubek or Nick Peters! Now on the big screen – a video of Stan Musial (who could not be in attendance tonight) playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his harmonica.
3:09 p.m. On the stage now we have George Grande and Billy Williams remembering 1969, as it is the 40th anniversary of that season. An incredible season perhaps best remembered for the Miracle Mets.
Billy Williams is the spokesman for the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program. Billy thanks all Hall of Fame members out there for supporting the Hall and helping to keep baseball’s history and tradition alive here in Cooperstown.
Now Don Sutton takes the podium to introduce this year’s Ford C. Frick Award winner, Tony Kubek. Sutton points out that his first day as a broadcaster was spent sitting alongside Kubek.
3:15 p.m. Tony’s turn. He points out Moose Skowron, his first road roommate, who is sitting just to the right of stage today.
Of course, Kubek played baseball himself, for nine seasons with the New York Yankees, making four All-Star games.
3:24 p.m. Tony speaks about how the game of baseball has pioneered so many of the changes in American culture, drawing particular attention to the racism and bigotry that Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron overcame during their playing careers, breaking down barriers in the process. This draws a loud ovation from the crowd.
As a member of the Hall’s Education department, I’m glad to see Tony mention this. At the Hall we try to teach our visitors about how baseball has been at the forefront of many changes in American culture.
3:29 p.m. Kubek closes and Jane Forbes Clark returns to the podium to present the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, Nick Peters. Peters covered the Giants for 47 years, more years than any sports journalist in history. David O’Brien, President of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, comes to the podium to introduce Peters.
3:32 p.m. Here’s a good Rice memory:
3:32 p.m. [Comment From Scott Downer]
I was at a game in Cleveland in 1979. I saw Rice his a pitch out of old Municipal Stadium that cleared the center field wall, I’m going to say 410. The ball never got over 20 feet off the ground. I’ve never seen a shot lie this one. It must have gotten out in two seconds. Just a blast.
3:37 p.m. Nick Peters talks about listening to Red Sox games on the radio on Sunday drives with the family. His idol? Ted Williams naturally. Peters then recalls how he learned how to do math through computing batting averages and other statistics. Sounds kind of like the Batter Up math unit that the Hall of Fame uses to teach kids across the country using video-conferencing technology
3:42 p.m. Nick Peter’s closes by pointing out that he was able to do something he loved without every having to go too far from home or looking for another job. While he laments that the Giants never won a World Series in his 47 years covering them, he also points out that the A’s won 4 of the 6 they played in during that span.
With that, the ceremony concludes! The rain held off. One last round of applause for the class of 2009.
3:48 p.m. So don’t forget to get the 2009 Hall of Fame Weekend on your calendar now, the last weekend in July as always!
It’s never too early to start thinking ahead to next year. On this year’s ballot, Andre Dawson received 67% of the vote, with Bert Blyleven receiving 62.7%, and Roberto Alomar will be on the ballot for the first time.
3:50 p.m. The weekend isn’t over yet, as Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson will be back here tomorrow for a special Legends Series interview on the Induction Stage.
I think it’s about time for me to sign off. But before I do I’d like to thank you all for joining me this afternoon, and hope you enjoyed the coverage! Don’t forget to log onto www.baseballhall.org for more coverage of Hall of Fame Weekend 2009!
Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
By 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.”
Mole, 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.
By 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.
The 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:
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.