A Champ in Cooperstown: Former Marlins Pitcher Tony Saunders to Appear at Hall of Fame Classic

Legends Game to be Held June 20 at Doubleday Field

May 19, 2010
Former Major Leaguer Tony Saunders will appear at the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic. (Rich Pilling/National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Tony Saunders only spent one season with the Florida Marlins. But it was one memorable season.

In 1997, Saunders pitched for the World Champion Florida Marlins before being selected first in the next year’s expansion draft by Tampa Bay. Saunders, who finished ninth in the American League in strikeouts with Tampa Bay in 1998, will suit up on Father’s Day at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame Classic. The second-annual Classic Weekend will feature Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith, along with 20 other former major leaguers – like Saunders – in a seven-inning exhibition game, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.

The 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Classic is co-organized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. Ford Motor Company will be the Presenting Sponsor of the Baseball Hall of Fame Classic.

Saunders finished his injury-shortened career with a 13-24 record, 304 strikeouts and a 4.56 ERA. But in the 1997 postseason for the Marlins, Saunders made a key start in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Braves, allowing just two runs in five-and-a-third innings in what became a 5-2 Florida win.

In only this third major league season, Saunders was pitching for Tampa Bay against the Texas Rangers on May 26, 1999 and broke a bone in his arm while throwing a pitch. After missing the remainder of the season, he broke his arm again in 2000 and was forced to retire at age 26.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Classic are available online at baseballhall.org or by calling 1-866-849-7770. Tickets are $12.50 for first and third base seats and $11 for outfield seats. A $3.50 handling charge per ticket applies to phone and online orders. Phone orders will be taken Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT. The online ordering system at www.baseballhall.org is available 24 hours per day.

Classic Weekend will feature a slate of family friendly activities, highlighted by the return of the Hall of Fame Classic. Other activities planned for Classic Weekend include the Cooperstown Golf Classic fundraiser for the Museum, a reprise of the popular “Family Catch,” the Youth Skills Clinic hosted by several former major league players, a special Voices of the Game program, and other special programs throughout the Museum.

Among the 20 other recently retired players already committed to participate in the Classic include former major league stars Kevin Bass, Paul Blair, Brian Boehringer, Fred Cambria, Bert Campaneris, John Doherty, Don DeMola, Frank DePino, Steve Grilli, Jim Hannan, Jay Johnstone, Jeff Kent, Tim Leary, Bill Madlock, Dickie Noles, Mike Pagliarulo, Dennis Rasmussen, Desi Relaford, Lee Smith, Rich Surhoff and Mike Timlin. Additional participants may be announced throughout the spring.

The Hall of Fame Classic will be preceded by the Cooperstown Game Day Parade, presented by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, the village of Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, beginning at noon on Main Street. Game participants will ride in the parade on their way to Doubleday Field. The Legends Hitting Contest will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the Hall of Fame Classic at 2 p.m.

On Saturday, June 19, the Museum will present the return of “Family Catch” at Doubleday Field from 12-2 p.m. Beginning at 3 p.m., the Hall of Fame and the MLBPAA will present the Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field, featuring former major league players as instructors. At 7 p.m., the Museum will host a roundtable discussion with the seven Hall of Fame members. Advance registration is required for all events. Please call 607-547-0397 for more information.

For more information on Hall of Fame Classic Weekend events, call 1-888-Hall-of-Fame.

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum