Results tagged ‘ John Doherty ’
Under beautiful sunny skies, baseball fans from around the country spent Saturday afternoon at Doubleday Field for the inaugural Classic Fest during Hall of Fame Classic Weekend.
Whether it was competing in a trivia game, being fitted for a balloon animal hat, or learning about baseball card collecting, families were enjoying the day and celebrating Father’s Day Weekend on the legendary diamond.
Seven-year-old friends Victoria Marrero and Samantha Shilling met in the morning at the Legends for Youth Skills Clinic. Marrero hails from Brooklyn and Shilling is from Maryland, but you’d never guess these two weren’t best friends.
“We just met this morning,” said Marrero.
Former major leaguers took the field at 9 a.m. to share their baseball knowledge with youngsters.
“We learned how to pitch and hit,” said Shilling.
By 1 p.m. the girls had ladybug balloon bracelets and tried out their skills at the MLB Network Strike Zone, where fans could test their pitching accuracy. Fans got to meet Pappy, the mascot for the Tri-City ValleyCats and even some former major leaguers like Dave Henderson who showed off his 1989 World Series ring.
“Are you fast?” Henderson asked a young fan who replied in the affirmative. “Then I can’t let you try on my ring – because I won’t be able to catch you.”
Henderson joked with fans and posed for pictures along side other players like Steve Grilli, John Doherty and Frank Catalanotto.
A table dedicated to the making of a baseball taught fans that there are 369 yards of string wrapped inside a ball, which would measure almost four football fields. Fans were able to compare a ball from the late 1800s that used lemon peel stitches to a current major league baseball.
“They call is a lemon peel because all the stitches end in a point and you could peel it like a lemon,” said Jennifer Rodger, a member of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the Hall of Fame for the summer.
Near the infield, Bill “Spaceman” Lee was entertaining fans of all ages, preparing for his role tomorrow when he joins six Hall of Famers and 25 former major leaguers in the position of Designated Humorist in the Hall of Fame Classic.
“Hitting and pitching, that’s all I do,” said Lee. “It’s the running part that I don’t want to do – it’s starting to hurt at my age.”
A jokester known for his wacky antics, Lee pitched for 14 seasons in the majors from 1969-82 and is the third-winningest lefty in Red Sox history. At age 63, Lee became the oldest person to pitch in and win a minor league game on September 5, 2010 when he made an appearance for the Brockton Rox. Lee donated his cap from the game to the Hall of Fame.
“I may need that back because they want me to play another year,” said Lee. “Last year I was day-to-day, but this year I told them I am hour-to-hour.”
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
I spent most of my morning chatting with MLB.com’s Marty Noble at the MLBPAA Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field.
As we walked the field, it was filled with smiling faces. The kids were having a wonderful time as they moved from station to station interacting with and learning from Jim Hannan, Jon Warden, John Doherty, Don Demola, Steve Grilli and the other MLB Player Alumni on the field. Many of these MLBPAA alumni had retired even before these kids were born, but for the kids, each of the players was a star.
Several former All-Stars were also instructors. Rick Wise and Bill “Spaceman” Lee were working on pitching mechanics in the right field corner. Dave Henderson – wearing his large gold World Series ring from 1989 – was talking hitting in shallow center.
“Always remember that Dave Henderson taught you to kiss each shoulder,” he’d say, showing the proper follow through of a swing. Before long though, his station always became baseball chatter. It was a chance for him to talk with the younger generation about the game, moving from Derek Jeter’s chance at 3,000 to dealing with making an out (“You’re going to make them, because the game has to end sometime.”) to showing off his ring – to the delight of many of the youngsters who’d never seen one.
One young ballplayer in Grilli’s base running station may have summed up the atmosphere best. Grilli said, “We’re in Cooperstown, but what is Cooperstown?” One youngster quickly shouted out “It’s baseball!”
Truly baseball was alive at Doubleday this morning and it’s as vibrant as the pop of all the mitts in Doherty’s catch station – where players worked the basics of throwing and catching a ball. “We’re working on playing catch instead of playing fetch,” he’d say before each of the groups began.
Once the clinic ended, each young ballplayer got one last chance to shake hands with the Major Leaguers before getting a sheet with their autographs. While we watched the kids go through the line, Noble started laughing. I asked him what he was laughing about and he said, “One of the kids just gave you guys a great marketing line. He said, ‘This place is like Disneyland for baseball.’”
That’s what Cooperstown feels like during the summer, especially during our big events like Classic and Induction Weekend. It’s Disneyland for baseball fans.
Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.