Hall of Fame Weekend Preview
The Eyes of the Baseball World Turn Again to Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend Highlighted by the Inductions of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo
The eyes of the baseball world will once again be gazing upon Cooperstown, the quaint Upstate New York village nestled between the Adirondack and Catskill mountains, where this weekend the game will be celebrated with a number of special events.
Highlighting the festivities is the 2012 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held at the Clark Sports Center beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Being honored with bronze plaques this year will be former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin and longtime Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who passed away in 2010. Santo’s widow, Vicki, will be accepting on her husband’s behalf.
“It will be exciting. It will be emotional,” said Larkin during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “My daughter is going to be singing the National Anthem. Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson heard my daughter singing and asked if she wanted to sing the national anthem. So I’ll be nervous for her. But it will be exciting. I’m really excited about how many Reds fans are coming, because I’ve heard just about everybody in the world is going to show up. I’m looking forward to seeing how many Reds fans will be up there.”
As for his induction speech, to be delivered on a stage with an expected 45 fellow Hall of Famers seated behind him, Larkin said it’s been done for a month. “I was very transparent as a player. My success is reflective of the support I received. And my speech is reflective of that.”
According to Ron Santo Jr., son of the late enshrinee, the anticipation for the big day is building for the entire family.
“Everybody's asking how we're gearing up for it and what we're looking forward to,” he said in a recent MLB.com story. “Personally, I've never been there, so I'm looking forward to actually going to Cooperstown, and seeing the museum and the town and everything I've heard about. It's just icing on the cake to watch the presentation on Sunday and to see dad's plaque finally go up. He probably would've been floating on air. I was thinking how the season would’ve been - it's such a special year. To have seen him actually get that call would've been priceless.”
As for the speech to be delivered by his mother in front of thousands of fans, Santo Jr. said she’s been practicing it but not in front of her family. “I think she'd probably be more nervous doing that in front of us,” he said, “than in front of the crowd.”
Besides Sunday’s Induction Ceremony, the weekend’s schedule of events promises excitement for all fans of the National Pastime.
“I always love Induction Weekend. I think it is the best weekend of the year and I always look forward to it,” said Jeff Katz, mayor of Cooperstown elected in March of this year. “Ever since we moved here in 2003 I’ve been to every one and all the events surrounding it. It’s going to be a little different for me this year as mayor than in past years but my anticipation level is no different. On some level it makes Cooperstown Cooperstown. It’s what makes Cooperstown known to the world. It’s the key to who we are for the public at large. And it’s something that maybe you don’t recognize you’re missing out on when you don’t do it but if you come once you’ll always want to come back.”
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum