Baseball fans delight in meeting Hall of Famers at Cooperstown
Editor’s note: Orleans Hub sportswriter Mike Wertman and his wife Cheryl, a Hub sports photographer, have been at Cooperstown since Friday for the Hall of Fame Induction weekend.
COOPERSTOWN – The crowds ballooned at the Hall of Fame, along Main Street and at the golf course Saturday during our second and final day at the 75th annual Baseball Hall of Fame weekend.
With a good vantage point just off the ninth tee, Cheryl and I spent the morning watching the annual Hall of Famers golf tournament at the Leatherstocking Country Club.
It was a treat to see several of the new inductees including former Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas and former Cardinals’, A’s and White Sox Manager Tony LaRussa as well as some Hall of Fame favorites including Phil Niekro, George Brett and Lou Brock.
However, the biggest entertainment of the tourney was in watching the antics and reaction of the scores of “autograph hounds” who lined the stone wall every time a Hall of Famer would come by.
And boy if one of the players stopped to sign a few autographs, look out, you might get trampled. It was a feeding frenzy like sharks going after blood in the water as the over enthusiastic fans surged to try and get a precious autograph.
And while most of the players ignored the calls and pleas for them to sign and just concentrated on their golf game things at times did get interesting when a player stopped. One such instance happened when Maddux halted his golf cart to sign before crossing the road to get to the next hole. It took only seconds and the cart was surrounded and engulfed by swarming autograph seeking fans who raced to the scene at full speed.
We enjoyed watching these scenes from a safe distance satisfied to just take photos. However, our patience did pay off once as Hall of Famer Jim Rice stopped for a water break near where we were standing with about a half dozen other fans. When one of the fans asked if he would sign, Rice gladly responded and we all were able to get a signature of the Red Sox great without any stampede.
From the golf course we walked to downtown and along the way enjoyed checking out the many interesting buildings at the Farmers Museum.
While downtown we took a bit of a break from baseball and checked out some of the village’s rich heritage including the local Indian sites of Council Rock and the burial mound, a marker to the Clinton and Sullivan Revolutionary War campaign as well as the James Fenimore Cooper Park and statue.
By early afternoon the crowds trying to get into the Hall of Fame were more than a block long stretching around the corner and fans had already placed chairs along Main Street to reserve spots to watch this evening’s parade of Hall of Famers.
And not surprisingly with such a large crowd there were lines for everything from ice cream to the trolley.
And what a parade it was.
With thousands of fans lining the route, as much as eight to 10 deep at many places, over 50 Hall of Famers paraded riding in pickup trucks up the length of Main Street to the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Famers paraded by their year of induction leaving the biggest part of the evening for the end – the arrival of his year’s class of inductees.
That was especially true for the huge number of Atlanta Braves in attendance. With three of their own set to be formally inducted on Sunday the Braves contingent greeted Cox, Glavine and Maddux with the famous Tomahawk Chop and the Braves war chant which echoed throughout the downtown area.
We enjoyed our two-day stay at Induction Weekend which will conclude this afternoon with the formal induction of the six new Hall of Famers at the Clark Complex on the edge of Cooperstown. A crowd of over 40,000 is expected.