Cooperstown Buzzing with Excitement as Ozzie Smith Opens Hall of Fame Weekend with PLAY Ball

Hall of Fame Teammates Johnny Bench, Bert Blyleven and Mike Schmidt help ‘The Wizard’ Raise Funds for Museum’s Education Program

July 25, 2014
Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt gives Play Ball participants some batting tips. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF)

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – As his 13 Gold Glove Awards and 15 All-Star Game appearances attest, Ozzie Smith was among the most consistent players in baseball history. 

Off the field following his stellar career, The Wizard remains just as devoted to his cause as the Education Ambassador of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum – and the driving force behind the Museum’s annual PLAY Ball event. 

Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 officially got under way on Friday with the 13th edition of Players, Legends and You, which raises funds for diversity scholarships for the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. More than 50 lucky fans had the chance to swap stories with Ozzie and his Hall of Fame teammates Bert Blyleven, Johnny Bench and Mike Schmidt in the Museum’s iconic Plaque Gallery before taking infield practice under a brilliant sunny sky in Cooperstown. 

PLAY Ball raised more than $30,000 for the Museum education program while hosting one of the largest turnouts in event history. Smith has hosted PLAY Ball every year since being elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002. 

“The players who have plaques in the Hall of Fame had one quality more than any other: Consistency,” Smith said. “That’s what gets you to Cooperstown, and we’re very happy to once again support PLAY Ball during Hall of Fame Weekend. What a group this year!” 

Cooperstown welcomed thousands of visitors on Friday as baseball’s best weekend began in earnest. Visitors strolled right down Main Street as the Village closed its main thoroughfare to vehicle traffic in advance of an expected huge turnout. 

Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 runs July 25-28 in Cooperstown. The Class of 2014, featuring Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre, will be enshrined at 1:30 p.m. July 27 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Admission to the Induction Ceremony is free. 

The 2014 Induction Ceremony will be televised live on MLB Network. Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Smoltz and 2004 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Peter Gammons will host MLB Network’s live telecast of the 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Coverage begins at noon on Sunday, July 27. 

The Induction Ceremony will also be available via a webcast at www.baseballhall.org. 

On Saturday, July 26, the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation will be held at Doubleday Field starting at 4:30 p.m. The one-hour program will feature the presentation of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing to Roger Angell of The New Yorker; the honoring of Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award winner Joe Garagiola; and the presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence to longtime Texas Rangers voice Eric Nadel. 

MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger will emcee the Awards Presentation, which is free and open to the public. MLB Network will televise the Awards Presentation at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 27 prior to the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. 

The newest fan favorite during Hall of Fame Weekend, the Parade of Legends, returns to Main Street in Cooperstown at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The parade, now in its fifth year, will originate on Chestnut Street, then proceed down Main Street before concluding at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Fans are encouraged to gather near Pioneer Park at Main and Pioneer streets for optimal viewing opportunities. Live announcements introducing all of the Hall of Fame members and participants will be featured. 

Fans will have a front-row seat to catch a glimpse of the returning Hall of Famers as they parade along the route. The returning Hall of Famers will ride down the parade route in trucks provided by Ford Motor Company. 

The Museum maintains the following Hall of Fame Weekend hours: Saturday, July 26: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 27: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Monday, July 28: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Advance tickets are not necessary but are available by contacting the Hall of Fame at 1-888-425-5633. For Hall of Fame Members, doors open at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. As always, Hall of Fame Members receive free admission. Interested parties may enroll in the Membership Program in advance or at the Museum.