Legends, SIMPSONS Team Up for Memorable Hall of Classic
Wizards defeat Knucksies 5-1 at Doubleday Field
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – America’s favorite animated family met the National Pastime on Saturday in Cooperstown.
The result will go down in baseball history as an instant Classic.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum hosted the ninth annual Hall of Fame Classic, with the Wizards defeating the Knucksies 5-1 in front of 5,218 fans at Doubleday Field – including newly “inducted” Hall of Famer Homer Simpson. The Museum honored 25th anniversary of THE SIMPSONS’ episode “Homer at the Bat” with a morning program featuring a roundtable with executives from THE SIMPSONS, Homer’s induction speech and the unveiling of a new exhibit honoring the long-running television show.
With intermittent sun and clouds on a perfect 66-degree afternoon, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro made a surprise start on the mound for the Knucksies – with the 78-year-old knuckleballer retiring the game’s first batter, Juan Pierre, on a groundout to start the action. Pierre later scored the game’s first run after singling, stealing second and crossing home plate on Craig Monroe’s third-inning RBI double. Aaron Rowand followed with another double to score Monroe and give the Wizards a 2-0 lead.
Willie Bloomquist cut the deficit to 2-1 with a long home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning. But in the fifth, the Wizards made it 5-1 on an RBI fielder’s choice by Michael Cuddyer, a Rowand RBI single and Todd Zeile’s RBI double.
Rowand was named the winner of the Bob Feller Player of the Game Award, matching his performance at the 2015 Classic. Rowand was 3-for-3 with a double, a run scored and two RBI.
The victory marked the first Hall of Fame Classic win for The Wizards in six tries against the Knucksies.
“It’s something special,” said pitcher Aaron Harang, who picked up the win for the Wizards. “To be able to come to the Hall of Fame and reminisce with some of the guys I played against has been a lot of fun.”
The Hall of Fame Classic, presented by Ford Motor Company, featured Hall of Fame managers/coaches Wade Boggs, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Juan Marichal, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith along with players Mike Adams (Rangers), Heath Bell (Padres), Willie Bloomquist (Diamondbacks), John Buck (Royals), Michael Cuddyer (Twins), Lenny DiNardo (Red Sox), Pedro Feliz (Phillies), Jonny Gomes (Athletics), Aaron Harang (Reds), Mike Jackson (Indians), Wally Joyner (Angels), Sean Marshall (Cubs), Craig Monroe (Tigers), John Parrish (Orioles), Juan Pierre (Marlins), Tim Redding (Nationals), Kerry Robinson (Cardinals), Cody Ross (Giants), Aaron Rowand (White Sox), Ryan Rowland-Smith (Mariners), Chris Sampson (Astros), Steve Sax (Dodgers), Luis Sojo (Yankees), Andy Sonnanstine (Rays), Cory Sullivan (Rockies), Jack Wilson (Pirates), Steve Woodard (Brewers) and Todd Zeile (Mets).
A moment of silence for Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, who passed away late Friday night, was held during the game…Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Phil Niekro made a special appearance during the Home Run Derby. Boggs hit a homer off Niekro, who offered more than two dozen perfect batting practices pitches to the 58-year-old Boggs…Aaron Rowand won the Home Run Derby…Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers helped present the 2016 George W. Rulon American League Baseball Player of the Year award to Will Smith of American Legion Post 58 of Texarkana, Texas…Fingers accepted the 1964 American Legion Player of the Year Award 53 years ago on Doubleday Field…Four soldiers from nearby Fort Drum were honored during the game and also participated: Captain Nathan Curran, Major Jesse Branson, Sergeant First Class Joshua Bone and Specialist Matthew Carnes…The National Colors and the US Army Colors were presented by the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division Artillery, Fort Drum, led by Sergeant First Class Matthew Randazzo…The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jim Reardon, Jeff Martin and Bonnie Pietila…Joelle Lechance of Cooperstown performed The Star-Spangled Banner…U.S. Marine Sergeant Lashawn Jasper performed God Bless America…Ball boys and ball girls from included Ian Quinn, Andrew Hage and Jason Furnari…The umpires for the game were: Bob Moore (home plate), Jim Dutcher (first base), Bill Fort (second base) and Dale Schuck (third base).