Class of 2011 prepares for Hall of Fame Weekend
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – The time between January and July for Baseball Hall of Fame electees is usually frenetic due to public appearances, seeing family and friends, organizing plans for Hall of Fame Weekend and – maybe most importantly – writing their speech.
The members of the Class of 2011 are putting the finishing touches on the speeches they will deliver just nine days from today at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 24 at 1:30 p.m. at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown as part of Hall of Fame Weekend.
Pat Gillick is in the editing stage, Roberto Alomar plans to speak from the heart in both English and Spanish and Bert Blyleven is still working on his, but remains lighthearted about the process.
"It is going to be a long one," he joked on Friday during a conference call with the media. "I'm thinking of going over an hour."
With a two-hour ceremony planned, Blyleven's speech will be much shorter than 60 minutes. But inductees often work overtime to construct a concise speech that reflects on their careers, their lives and the people who helped them reach this great achievement.
"It is a day of 'thank you' to all the people that mentored me," said a more serious Blyleven. "I can't wait to shake the hands of the fans who come out to see myself or Roberto Alomar or Pat Gillick. And I can't wait to sit my mom in a rocking chair at the Otesaga Hotel and see her reaction."
Alomar will receive support throughout the weekend from his family as he did throughout his career, particularly from his father, Sandy Sr., and brother, Sandy Jr., who both played in the big leagues.
"Playing with my brother Sandy in Cleveland was a memory I will never forget," he said. "My brother has always been my best friend and he was a mentor to me from Little League all the way through the big leagues. My hero growing up was my dad. He taught me a lot about this game."
Both Blyleven and Alomar will be representing their rich heritage when they take the stage on July 24. Blyleven was born in Holland and will be the first Dutch-born player inducted into the Hall of Fame. Alomar was born in Puerto Rico and will be just the third Puerto Rican-born player inducted.
And Pat Gillick, a California native, is also blazing a trail into in the Hall of Fame. He is only the fourth executive elected who spent his career primarily as a general manager, joining Ed Barrow, Branch Rickey and George Weiss.
"I think I kind of represent a lot of guys that are below the radar – the GMs, the scouts the development guys – and I am proud to represent those people," he said.
All three members of the Class of 2011 spoke of being nervous and excited for the big day.
"Nerves are going to take over, but I'm looking forward to that day," said Alomar. "It's going to feel like my first day in San Diego (with the Padres), facing Nolan Ryan. I'll be nervous, but once you get that first hit, you settle down and I think it will be like that."
Now that they have received the call from the Hall of Fame, there is only one thing left to wish for during Hall of Fame Weekend.
"It was cloudy in Seattle today," said Pat Gillick. "I am hoping for good weather in Cooperstown next weekend."
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum