Let’s get it started
Goose Gossage and other Hall of Famers arrived in Cooperstown on Thursday at the start of Hall of Fame Weekend
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Chatting on one side of the big room was Goose, Ryno was making the rounds, and god was just admiring the view. Yes, the arrival of a number of familiar faces signaled the beginning of the 2011 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
Thanks to some early arrivals, the lobby of The Otesaga Hotel was abuzz with activity as such Hall of Fame members as Rich "Goose" Gossage, Ryne Sandberg, Doug Harvey and Lou Brock were able to beat the heat outside and catch up with old friends.
Everyone was in Cooperstown to celebrate the Hall of Fame induction of second baseman Roberto Alomar, pitcher Bert Blylelven and general manager Pat Gillick, as well as honor writer Bill Conlin (J.G. Taylor Spink Award), broadcaster Dave Van Horne (Ford C. Frick Award) and executive Roland Hemond (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award).
Nicknamed "god" for his ability to control a game as an umpire, Harvey was relaxing on a couch in the center of the hotel's lobby a year after his own induction into the National Pastime's most exclusive fraternity.
"Last year it was all rush, rush, rush and all, but this year, as you can see, my wife and I can sit down and have a cup of coffee," said Harvey of his day with his wife Joy. "So this is wonderful.
"The wife and I talked returning when we were here last year and it's already been really outstanding."
When asked what he most remembers from the 2010 Induction Weekend, Harvey said with a big laugh that it was all a blur.
"I think the best memory I have of last year is going out on stage and really realizing that you're part of this, giving the speech, seeing the wife down in the front row, and stopping the rain from coming," he said with a grin. "It all worked out pretty good."
As for this year's electees, Harvey not only was behind the plate for a number of National League games in which Blyleven saw mound duty, but also when Gillick pitched for Stockton of the California League back in 1959.
"Bert Blyleven deserved it (Hall of Fame election) long before this," Harvey said. "When you saw him, you knew that he was going to be professional and he threw the ball and his arguments did not carry throughout the whole ballgame; he might have a gripe over a pitch or two.
"But, boy, did he have a fine curveball. And he wasn't against throwing one just under your chin either. He had a lot of guts and he was a true sportsman."
Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson, whose first day working at the Cooperstown institution was Induction Day 1994, was also checking in with the happenings at the Otesaga.
"Expectations are high for this weekend," he said. "The revamped lineup of events on Saturday – the Spotlight Series all afternoon at Doubleday Field leading into the Awards Presentation leading into the parade – we think is going to be a significant factor in increasing attendance. In terms of Sunday's Induction Ceremony, there's no reason our numbers shouldn't be a bit above where they normally are.
"All of the work and all of the laurels lay on the shoulders of our entire staff," he added. "And I'd put our staff up against anybody in terms of the ability to think, construct and execute an event."
Topping Friday's action is PLAY Ball with Ozzie Smith, an annual fundraiser for the Museum's education programs which will feature four Hall of Fame members – Rod Carew, Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog and Ozzie – and be held beginning at 8 a.m. Signups can still be made by calling 607-547-0397 or by visiting the Museum's Membership Desk.
Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum