A Classic Day for Doubleday: Heroes of the Game Thrill Fans in Cooperstown at Saturday’s Hall of Fame Classic

Legends Game Ends in Tie at the Home of Baseball

May 24, 2014
Hometown favorite, Hideki Matsui, homered in the fourth inning giving The Knucksies the lead. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF)

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – The clouds parted for the sun for most of the afternoon, and the legends sparkled in Cooperstown as the Hall of Fame Classic brought back memories and created countless new ones on Saturday at historic Doubleday Field.

“It’s beautiful to be here,” said three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, who pitched a scoreless inning as one of the game’s starting pitchers. “A great opportunity to be part of this and interact with many players that you faced and played with.

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“It’s just great to have fun… and see how many gray hairs these guys are developing.”

On a 65-degree afternoon in front of 6,063 fans, six Hall of Fame legends and 30 former Major League Baseball players laced up their spikes and dusted off their uniforms for another bow on the diamond. The sixth annual Hall of Fame Classic was organized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and fueled by assistance of Major League Baseball. For the sixth straight year, Ford Motor Company was the Presenting Sponsor of the Hall of Fame Classic.

And gray hairs or not, the talent on the field was obvious from the first pitch. The teams were divided into American League and National League squads, with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro managing The Knucksies of the American League and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith managing The Wizards of the National League.

[2014 Hall of Fame Classic Boxscore]

Martinez, representing the Red Sox and pitching for The Knucksies, and The Wizards’ starting pitcher, Kirk Rueter who represented the Giants, looked sharp and helped keep the game scoreless until the top of the fourth inning. But with Steve Avery of the Braves on the mound for The Wizards, Hideki Matsui brought the crowd to life with a towering home run over the 312-foot sign in right field. Matsui, representing the Yankees, received a huge ovation from the many New York fans in attendance. 

In the top of the fifth, Aaron Rowand of the White Sox doubled, took third on a fly ball and scored on a bloop single by Mike Sweeney of the Royals, giving The Knucksies a 2-0 lead. 

But The Wizards roared right back in the bottom of the fifth when Reggie Sanders of the Reds doubled and scored on a home run by Luis Gonzalez of the Diamondbacks. Later in the inning, Jack Wilson of the Pirates blasted a two-run homer to score Marlon Anderson of the Phillies, giving The Wizards a 4-2 lead. 

The Knucksies, however, tied the game at 4 in the top of the sixth with a two-run home run by Ivan Rodriguez of the Rangers, scoring the Orioles’ Brady Anderson. Then, just as the bottom of the sixth inning was ready to begin, a spring shower brought an end to the game with the score tied at 4. 

The sixth annual Hall of Fame Classic Weekend was presented by Ford Motor Company, and the game featured Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith, along with 30 former big leaguers representing each of the major league teams, including: Edgardo Alfonzo, Brady Anderson, Marlon Anderson, Steve Avery, Vinny Castilla, Brady Clark, Jeff Conine, David Eckstein, Adam Everett, Steve Garvey, Alex Gonzalez, Luis Gonzalez, Eddie Guardado, Scott Hatteberg, Todd Hollandsworth, Todd Jones, Mark Kotsay, Pedro Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Carl Pavano, Kerry Robinson, Ivan Rodriguez, Aaron Rowand, Kirk Rueter, Reggie Sanders, Mike Sweeney, Jim Thome, Gary Thurman, Dan Wheeler and Jack Wilson. 

The day got under way with the Cooperstown Game Day Parade featuring the Hall of Famers and former major leaguers. Fans lined the Main Street route five-deep to see their heroes in America’s Most Perfect Village. 

The players arrived at Doubleday Field following the parade and then participated in the Home Run Derby, which was won by Alex Gonzalez, who hit 137 home runs for six teams in his 13-year big league career. For winning the Home Run Derby, Gonzalez received a Tiffany watch courtesy of Tiffany & Co. 

“I thought Jim Thome was going to be the favorite. (Either) him (or) Mike Sweeney,” Gonzalez said. “They just have the natural home run swing, where they get in a groove you just can’t beat them. 

“It’s just great that the Hall of Fame is able to put this kind of function together.” 

CLASSIC NOTEBOOK: Jim Thome and his son Landon presented the ball Thome hit for his 600th career home run to the Museum. The ball Thome hit for his 500th career home run is already a part of the Museum collection…Hall of Fame senior vice president of finance and administration Jeff Jones presented the 2014 George W. Rulon American League Baseball Player of the Year award to Anthony Harrold Jr. of American Legion Post 72 of Brooklawn N.J. Harrold is a junior at Gloucester Catholic High School…Five soldiers from nearby Fort Drum were honored during the game: Zachary Hall, Matthew Jones, Junior Ramirez, Christopher Scott and Austin West…The Fort Drum Color Guard presented the colors prior to the game…Assisting in the game were Joey DiPiazza, Brian DiPiazza, Brady Farkas and David Adams of Hudson Valley Community College…Taylor Bayes, a 2014 Cooperstown High School graduate, performed The Star-Spangled Banner…American Idol contestant Kaitlyn Jackson of Norwich, N.Y., performed God Bless America…Isaac Brock, lead singer of the group Modest Mouse, performed Take Me Out to the Ballgame…The umpires for the game were: Mike Chase (home plate), Jim Johnson (first base), Jim Dutcher (second base) and Dale Shuck (third base).