A Classic family

Goose Gossage will bring memories to Cooperstown for the Father’s Day Hall of Fame Classic

May 13, 2010
Hall of Famer will be in Cooperstown on Father's Day for the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Goose Gossage’s focus on the field was legendary during his 22-year Hall of Fame career.

But when Gossage steps onto Doubleday Field on Father’s Day for the Hall of Fame Classic, fans will forgive him if he’s a little distracted.

“I’m going to be thinking about my dad, Jake, who always told me I was going to make it to the big leagues even when I didn’t believe it,” said Gossage, whose father passed away before Goose graduated from high school. “And I’m going to be thinking about my three boys: Jeff, Keith and Todd. They still talk about how much fun they had hanging out in the clubhouse at the end of my big league career.

“What better way to spend Father’s Day than to be at the ballpark with your dad. He’ll be with me, and I’ll be with them.”

Gossage is one of seven Hall of Famers who will suit up for the 2010 Classic in Cooperstown. The legends game, which debuted in 2009, will also feature Gary Carter, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Harmon Killebrew, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith along with about 20 recently retired players.

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.

For Gossage, the Hall of Fame Classic is more than a return to the diamond. It’s a chance to watch families bond through baseball.

“Being a Spring Training instructor with the Yankees, I see the bond every day,” said Gossage, who pitched for nine teams – including the Yankees – before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. “The generations of fans will never forget – and they never do – that first time when their dads would take them to the ballpark. And it’s not just fathers and sons, but fathers and daughters and mothers and their kids. Not only my father, but my mom (Susanne) was a huge baseball fan. When baseball season was over, a part of her was gone. That’s how I feel.”

“These kids and parents and people identity with some generation of baseball, and that keeps the game going.”

For the 58-year-old Gossage, the chance to play baseball in Cooperstown on Father’s Day will rank as one of his post-career highlights.

“I was brought up with a respect for the history of this game, both as a kid – when my favorite player was Mickey Mantle – and as a young big league player,” Gossage said. “I can’t wait to come to Cooperstown and play in this game.”

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, Bert Campaneris, John Doherty, Don DeMola, Jay Johnstone, Jeff Kent, Tim Leary, Bill Madlock, Mike Pagliarulo, Dennis Rasmussen, Lee Smith, Rich Surhoff and Mike Timlin. Additional participants will 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.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum