A day to remember

Whitey Herzog tours Hall of Fame in preparation for his July 25 induction

April 26, 2010
Whitey Herzog toured the Hall of Fame on Monday in preparation for his July Induction. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

View a video clip of the Hall of Fame's Erik Strohl giving a tour to Whitey Herzog

View a photo gallery of Whitey Herzog's visit

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Whitey Herzog believes that Oct. 27, 1985 was the worst day of his life. Of course, that was the day his Cardinals lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Kansas City Royals.

But coming in July, Herzog may have a new best day.

“Being here is like putting the icing on the cake,” Herzog said during his Orientation Tour on Monday at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. “It’s the highest honor you can receive in baseball.”

Wearing a World Series ring on each hand – one from 1969 when he was a Mets’ executive and one from 1982 when the Cardinals won the Fall Classic – Herzog toured the Museum with his wife Mary Lou and took a trip back in time. The visit was in preparation for his July 25 Hall of Fame Induction as a member of the Class of 2010.

“I used to skip school and hitchhike to the bus stop, take a bus to St. Louis for 10 cents then a street car to the stadium for another 10 cents and get into the game for a dollar twenty-five,” Herzog said. “I’d sneak up to the upper deck, collect six foul balls and sell three of them. Get a Coke for a dime and a hot dog for 15 cents and go home with two dollars and fifty-five cents in my pocket.”

His school principal never punished him for skipping class, but used to call him up to his office to ask how the game was.

Herzog was able to see artifacts at the Hall of Fame from his idol Stan Musial, whose No. 6 Herzog wore as a player for the Baltimore Orioles from 1961-62. While visiting the ¡Viva Baseball! exhibit, Herzog took a long look at a scouting card on Roberto Clemente where all of his skills were evaluated.

“I didn’t get that many As in high school,” said Herzog of Clemente’s near-perfect letter grade assessment.

Herzog saw some familiar items in exhibit cases in the timeline, including his cap from his 1,000th career victory. Although he has been to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum 12 times before, this was the first time he got to see photos and newspaper articles about him from the Library archives.

“Yeah, you’ve got some stuff,” he said about the collection. “Now I can tell the kids: If you ever want to see Grandpa, come up here and you can see him.”

Herzog will always have a home in Cooperstown once his bronze plaque is hung during Induction Weekend, July 23-26.

“We’ve got a million people who tell me they are coming up here for Induction from St. Louis,” said Herzog. “I tell them it’s a beautiful place and if you haven’t been there, you better spend a few days because you could spend a week here and not see everything.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum