Perfect weather provided an ideal backdrop to the first day of Hall of Fame Weekend. Temperatures in the mid-70s and low humidity greeted the first batch of Hall of Famers who registered throughout the day at the Otesaga Hotel. Among the first to arrive were Ozzie Smith, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, all of whom were scheduled to take part in Ozzie’s “Play Ball” event at Doubleday Field on Friday morning. (Play Ball gives paying participants a chance to interact with the Hall of Famers on the field, with all the proceeds benefiting the Hall’s educational programs.)
As the Hall of Famers began settling in, what appeared to be fairly substantial crowds made their way up and down Main Street. Despite concerns over a lack of attendance and a lack of living Hall of Famers, it turned out to be a busy day at the Hall of Fame and throughout the village. It was not particularly easy to find parking, always a good sign for business in Cooperstown.
In Hall of Famer news that had nothing to do with the weekend, retired Royals great George Brett announced that he has stepped aside as Kansas City’s batting coach and will return to his previous position as a Royals vice president. Named the Royals interim hitting coach in late May, Brett lasted less than two months on the job. Unfortunately, the Royals’ offense has shown little improvement over that time, so now it’s back to the front office for Brett.
A total of 34 Hall of Famers, down from the initial expectation of 40, are primed to make it to Cooperstown for this year’s induction. Four men have canceled their visits within the last four days: Luis Aparicio, Doug Harvey, Willie Mays and Tom Seaver. For an updated list of which Hall of Famers will be in town (and the list can change from day to day), visit the Hall’s website at http://www.baseballhall.org.
In addition to the signings we highlighted in Thursday’s preview, here are some other signings scheduled to take place over the weekend. Frank Robinson, Juan Marichal, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage will all appear at the Stables Inn, located on Main Street. The baseball memorabilia store, Seventh Inning Stretch, will feature Ozzie Smith as its sole signer. In contrast to recent years, the Cooperstown Bat Company and the Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum will have no signings this weekend.
While it’s important to track the Hall of Famers in town, I find it just as interesting to keep tabs on the non-Hall of Fame “celebrities” making the trek to central New York. This group typically includes former major league players, managers, and owners, along with famous members of the media, and occasionally actors. (Remember that Charlie Sheen made it to town last year) As of Thursday night, here is a list of the big names expected to arrive in Cooperstown.
Greg Amsinger (MLB Network broadcaster)
Bob Costas (NBC and MLB Network voice)
Jennie Finch (women’s softball player and broadcaster)
Peter Gammons (award-winning writer and broadcaster)
Buck Martinez (current broadcaster and former catcher)
Peter O’Malley (former Dodgers owner)
Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox owner)
Billy Sample (former broadcaster and player turned actor)
As other notables make their way into town, we’ll let you know. And keep an eye out for our retrospective look at Jerry Koosman, who will be signing on Main Street this weekend.