By Ed Curtis
The little village of Cooperstown always has a busy summer with tourists from around the world streaming in to visit the Farmer’s Museum. Back in Leather Stocking history, the main attraction has always been the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The legends of the national pastime are enshrined here along with memorabilia of their careers and exciting moments. Babe Ruth’s bat, Lou Gehrig’s uniform, baseballs, gloves and many other artifacts.
But without doubt, the top event of the year is the induction of the current class of those elected to the Hall of Fame. Their names are enshrined with heroes of the past and plaques with their faces, names and stats go on permanent display.
This year those enshrined a week ago were: Randy Johnson, the rocket throwing pitcher who split time between Arizona and a brief stint with the Yankees, Craig Biggio, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez of the hated Red Sox. The flame throwing Johnson, whose pitches frequently registered sub-sonic speeds on the radar gun, commented that as a child he practiced throwing against his garage door. When asked how often his father had to replace door panels he responded:
“I broke a lot of them and he wasn’t too happy. He made me do the repairs.”
There were laughs as a Hall representative attempted to put a Hall of Fame cap on the six foot-ten inch Johnson and had to climb on a chair to do so.
The July 26 Induction Ceremony took place on the grounds outside of the Clark Sports Center, which is located on lower Susquehanna Avenue, just one mile south of the Hall of Fame. The Ceremony is held rain or shine, unless severe weather forces the cancellation of the event. The Induction Ceremony historically lasts two-to-three hours. Lawn seating for the event was unlimited and free of charge. A blanket or lawn chair was recommended for comfortable viewing.
Awards Presentation The Hall of Fame Awards Presentation was held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 at Doubleday Field and featured the presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting excellence to Dick Enberg and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing to Tom Gage.
The Hall also honored the legacy of former Reds, Cardinals and Senators outfielder Curt Flood, whose test of the reserve clause via the United States Supreme Court in 1970 laid the groundwork for the advent of free agency several years later as well as major league players who served in the armed forces during World War II.
The Awards Presentation was followed by the Parade of Legends, as Hall of Fame members rode down Main Street in trucks provided by Ford Motor Company at 6 p.m., concluding with a red carpet arrival on the Museum steps as Hall of Fame members made their way to the Museum for a private reception.
PLAY Ball With Ozzie Smith A dream team that could only come together in Cooperstown, with Ozzie Smith and Hall of Famer guests Andre Dawson and Greg Maddux hosted a morning experience in a fundraiser for the Hall of Fame’s educational programs. For the 14th year, PLAY Ball returned as Players, Legends and You with an interactive meet and greet, starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, July 24th during Hall of Fame Weekend 2015.
PLAY Ball featured over two hours of non-stop interaction, including personalized instruction and the chance to turn double plays. Each participant received time on the field with these baseball legends, as well as a personalized photo and special mementos of the occasion. Prior to the on-field activity, participants and Hall of Famers shared a special breakfast in the Hall of Fame’s Plaque Gallery. This event was open to fans of all ages.
Legends Of The Game Roundtable The Hall of Fame’s newest members participated in a Legends of the Game Roundtable event. This event was for museum members only.
Throughout the Weekend, the Hall of Fame hosted a series of educational programs and fan-friendly experiences designed to connect generations of all ages in activities and events featuring baseball luminaries in the timeless and pastoral village of Cooperstown. •