The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum welcomed six new faces in late July.
For most people history stays in the past as a distance memory, or a story handed down from generations. For a small hidden town called Cooperstown in upstate New York, history comes alive once a year for Hall of Fame weekend. Baseball greats are immortalized in this town that is as much a part of baseball as hotdogs and cracker jacks. A year removed from a Hall of Fame weekend that didn’t see a single person inducted, six baseball greats came to Cooperstown to take their rightful place in history.
Pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux joined managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, along with Frank Thomas for this year’s hall of fame class. The excitement around Cooperstown was palpable during the days leading up to the induction ceremony. 50,000 baseball fans from around the world, Hall of Famers, and ghosts of the past were all present to partake in the weekend’s activities.
The weekend festivities started on Friday morning for Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith’s annual charity clinic event. Smith, along with fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Brett Blyleven, spoke with the media to convey the sentimental nature of the weekend.
“We want to make an effort to be here,” Bench explained “The thing that makes this year so special is that there are so many different teams represented, and all these guys have had a connection in our lives.”
It was apparent that many Hall of Famers shared Bench’s enthusiasm for the weekend’s events as this year saw over fifty of them return to Cooperstown.
The day before the induction ceremony, the legendary Doubleday Field hosted the Hall of Fame awards ceremony. The Ford Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, the Spink Award for excellence in sports writing, and Buck O’Neil Award were handed out in front of a full capacity crowd.
The final day of the weekend saw the induction ceremony, and thousands gathered to watch the newest members of the Hall of Fame give their speeches. Many Braves fans made the journey to watch their trio of greats make their way into the history books and on several occasions the Braves rallying cry was heard rattling through the crowd. The Yankees fans in attendance definitely got their money’s worth as they watched Joe Torre speak for nearly a half-hour recounting his fondest memories and greatest triumphs. It was Frank Thomas who took the cake for the most emotional speech as he struggled several times to fight back tears.
This Hall of Fame class illustrated what the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about. In an age tainted by the dark cloud of steroids, these guys represent integrity and greatness done the right way.