I picked up my first taste of Hall of Fame Weekend early Wednesday evening, when I noticed the party tents that had been placed in Cooper Park, followed shortly by a sighting of longtime baseball writer Hal Bodley on Pioneer Street. Slowly but certainly, the baseball celebrities are beginning to trickle in, with Hall of Fame Weekend scheduled to begin in full force on Friday.
In recent years, more than 50 Hall of Famers have routinely attended the annual induction ceremony. At last word, the official count this year was at 47 Hall of Famers, reduced slightly by the las- minute withdrawal of Yogi Berra. Still recovering from a bad fall near his Montclair, N.J., home last weekend, Berra has wisely decided to take the weekend off from his usual rounds in Cooperstown.
At press time, these Hall of Famers were scheduled to attend the weekend festivities, while also planning to participate in formal autograph signings at a variety of Cooperstown establishments: Sparky Anderson, Luis Aparicio, Johnny Bench, Wade Boggs, Lou Brock, Jim Bunning, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Orlando Cepeda, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage, Tony Gwynn, Reggie Jackson, Ferguson Jenkins, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Juan Marichal, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Earl Weaver, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount.
The following Hall of Famers will also attend the weekend celebration, but are not currently listed at any of the area signings (though that is subject to change): Hank Aaron, George Brett, Rickey Henderson, Al Kaline, Tommy Lasorda, Willie Mays, Bill Mazeroski, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton and Billy Williams.
A number of non-Hall of Famers will also make their presence known in Cooperstown this weekend. The list includes multiple Gold Glover Paul Blair, former Brooklyn Dodger Ralph Branca, inaugural DH Ron Blomberg, noted character Tito Fuentes, 1986 New York Met, Dwight Gooden, former Yankee left-handers Ron Guidry and Fritz Peterson, four-time batting champion Bill Madlock and 1969 Met Art Shamsky. All are scheduled to appear at the various autograph sessions, which will take place at CVS and T.J’s Place on Main Street, and the Tunnicliff Inn on Pioneer Street.
A new event will take place on Saturday night. It’s the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Chestnut and Main streets before concluding on the front steps of the Hall of Fame. Many of the Hall of Famers in attendance will ride trolleys and antique cars to the Hall of Fame and Museum, where they will partake in the annual Saturday night VIP reception.
The weekend activities will culminate with Sunday’s induction ceremony, honoring the new class of Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey. The ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Clark Sports Centeron Susquehanna Avenue.