I'd first like to let everyone know that while the induction ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for many baseball fans, this is my eighth. I grew up in central New York, and while I lived there, I got to go several times to the Hall of Fame and Museum. Also, from 1984 - 2003 and again in 2008, I ushered the Hall of Fame game at Doubleday Field a couple blocks down from the HOF.
I took this trip accompanied by my youngest son, Phillip.
Phil and I first stopped at the Hall of Fame - it is better when you get there really early (9:00 AM), especially on Induction Day. I have been known to go during Thanksgiving week in November when I lived in New York when it is a lot less crazy, allowing you to concentrate on the exhibits more.
The Baseball Hall of Fame
Inside the Hall of Fame gallery. The original five members are in the center under that opening. (I hope that guy in the black shirt in front of them just has his hands in his pockets. It does look like he's doing something else, doesn't it?)
Phillip and the Babe - this is actually carved out of wood. This is located in the Hall of Fame gallery.
Me and the Babe
The locations where the plaques for Joe Gordon, Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson will be hung later that afternoon.
The Hall of Fame from over the spot where the original five are enshrined.
Me in front of Babe Ruth's locker
Phillip always liked Lou Gehrig when playing Little League - here he is in front of his locker. The program had an article on the trophy that is on the left side - it was given to him by his Yankee teammates on Lou Gehrig day when he told everyone that he "was the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
I started following baseball in 1972 when the Oakland A's won the first of three World Series. The next year, Hank Aaron was in the hunt for beating the Babe's career home run record. I remember clearly watching him pass Ruth on NBC's game of the week in April 1974. This is the uniform he wore that day. This was in a new exhibit dedicated to Hank.
At the entrance is a new exhibit of three players in an exhibit called "Character and Courage.". They included Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente.
On Induction Day I don't spend a whole lot of time there.(Too darned busy!!!) As a side trip, if you walk through the park to the left of the HOF offices by the statue of author James Fenimore Cooper to the cemetery across the street from where that park lets out in the back, you can see his grave.
Over my years of going to inductions and Hall of Fame games, I have picked up a collection of autographed balls - a very good share of Hall of Famers. Now with a family, getting the money together is a little harder than usual. However I did find A's shortstop Bert Campaneris and Reds player George Foster each signing for $20 each. (I had brought 3 Major League balls with me for this kind of thing. There were many others signing around town, but either their price was too high for the budget, or I already had them. Guys signing today included Willie Mays (expensive, but already got),
Frank Robinson (got), Pete Rose (got), Gaylord Perry (got), Harmon Killebrew (got), Juan Marichal (got), and Bob Feller (got, got, got and got). However, there was one person I didn't get my wife might have liked - John Schneider, otherwise known as Bo Duke from "The Dukes of Hazard."
Phillip, me and Bert Campaneris
Me and George Foster
John Schneider - I heard him say that in the course of the series, they went through 329 General Lees.
I have learned from many ceremonies one thing - GET THERE EARLY. There is no admission charged to go, and it is held outside the Clark Sports Complex outside of town on Susquehanna Street. Phil and I got there about 11:30 for the 1:30 ceremony. We got our programs from the guy who is my contact for ushering the games (good to see him again!) and found our places. We brought our lunch, read the program and watched people until it began.
Phillip at the induction.
Our view of the induction stage. I grew to hate that umbrella at the bottom of the shot. Fortunately, there is a jumbotron screen to the left of the stage where you could see what was going on.
A couple of the platforms where the MLB TV cameras were situated. We may have been on the coverage video...
This is one of the most unique people I had ever seen at the induction. (Yes, he is wearing a propeller on his hat, and he is wearing a cape with "A's" written on the back) He was picking and singing a take off on the Toni Basil song "Mickey" (Oh, Rickey, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind. Hey Rickey!) Of course, we ALL know that Weird Al's first song on his first album was also called Ricky and was about the TV show "I Love Lucy." He also did something that may have dissed the Red Sox a little, even though Henderson did play a year for Boston.
One place I always like to go to when visiting Cooperstown is Doubleday field. Legend has it that is where Abner Doubleday magically appeared to invent baseball in what was then Elihu Phinney's cow pasture. The Hall of Fame game used to be held there, and I was fortunate enough to be an usher there for 21 years.
The main entrance to the grandstand.
Me at my usual post - section 101 at the stairs. The toughest assignment in the park. I have said that if Bob Uecker ever got real front row seats, they would be in the first row of 101 at Doubleday. You will notice that the walkway is at the same level as the seating. People entering and leaving the stands had a tendency to stop right at the top of the stairs to watch the action on the field, thus blocking the view of those folks "lucky" enough to sit in the first few rows. I usually spent the game walking up and down the rail clearing folks from the rail and reminding them to go back to their seats. This was my section in 1986, 1993 - 2003 and 2008.
Section 101 from the grandstand - section 5 (where the picture was taken) was also the section where they would seat the Hall of Famers. I was fortunate enough to work this section in 1991 - I sat in the same row as Rod Carew and got Ferguson Jenkins who sat the row behind me to autograph my usher hat.
Oh, and if this area looks slightly familiar, this is where a section of the movie "A League of Their Own" was filmed, where Dottie Henson meets up with her old Rockford Peaches teammates. In front of MY stairs!!!!