Ozzie Smith Opens Hall of Fame Weekend Festivities by Hosting PLAY Ball in Cooperstown

Hall of Fame Teammates Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Paul Molitor help ‘Wizard’ Raise Funds for Museum’s Education Program; Legends Stamp Unveiling Also Part of Friday’s Fun

July 20, 2012
Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith interacting with fan during PLAY Ball, his fundraiser for the education department. (Carter Kegelman/NBHOF Library)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Baseball’s best weekend got under way on Friday with one of the game’s most beloved heroes doing what he does best: Thrilling fans and supporting the cause of education. 

For the 11th straight year, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith hosted PLAY Ball as a prelude to the annual Induction Weekend at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Smith and his Hall of Fame friends Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Paul Molitor shared stories and laughs with Museum supporters in the hallowed Plaque Gallery and on the diamond, then took some ground balls to cap off the Players, Legends and You event. 

PLAY Ball raised more than $10,000 for the diversity scholarships for the Hall of Fame's Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program. 

“It’s all about helping the Hall of Fame’s education department and just trying to continue to raise money to educate young people and keep this great game alive,” Smith said. “I’ve enlisted the help of Johnny and Paul and Carlton. I try and get a different group of people every year. And these guys have been very gracious of their time to come out and help out.” 

While PLAY Ball was in full swing, fans in Cooperstown were treated to another unique event when the United States Postal Service hosted the dedication of the Major League Baseball All-Star stamps during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Hall of Fame’s Grandstand Theater. 

Four of baseball’s most revered Hall of Famers have been immortalized on 45-cent First-Class Forever stamps. Appearing on the Major League Baseball All-Stars sheet of 20 stamps are Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees; Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians; Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates; and Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox.  

PLAY Ball and the stamp unveiling are just part of the July 20-23 Induction Weekend in Cooperstown as Barry Larkin and Ron Santo are enshrined as the Class of 2012 at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Induction Ceremony takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 22 on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, one mile south of the Hall of Fame on Susquehanna Avenue. Admission to the Induction Ceremony is free. 

The 2012 Induction Ceremony will be held rain or shine, unless severe weather forces the event to be canceled. Seating is unlimited. The Ceremony will be televised live on MLB Network, broadcast nationally on Sirius XM MLB Network Radio Channel 209 (Sirius) and 89 (XM) and will be available via a Webcast at www.baseballhall.org

Saturday’s schedule of events in Cooperstown begins with the new Hall of Fame game show Pitch Count, which will feature Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven and Phil Niekro and is modeled after popular past game shows, in which each Hall of Famer will be paired with a contestant to provide the mystery word answer to a baseball-themed category. The game features nine innings of head-to-head competition, with the winning team having a chance to play for a grand prize, a Lifetime Membership to the Hall of Fame for one lucky fan. Pitch Count will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Doubleday Field. 

The Hall of Fame Awards Presentation will follow at 4:30 p.m. at Doubleday Field. The one-hour program will feature the presentation of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun; and the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence to longtime Fox Sports analyst Tim McCarver. The Awards Presentation will also feature a celebration of the three living managers who have led the Cardinals to the World Series title – Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa – as well as an appearance of the 2011 World Series trophy. Admission to the Awards Presentation is free. 

Immediately following the Awards Presentation, Hall of Fame members will participate in Parade of Legends at 6 p.m.  The parade will originate on Chestnut Street in Cooperstown and conclude at the front steps of the Museum on Main Street. Fans can watch their favorite Hall of Famers throughout the entire course of the Main Street parade route, including at Pioneer Park in the heart of Cooperstown, as the stars ride through the village on vehicles provided by Ford Motor Company. The Hall of Fame Parade of Legends is free and open to the public. 

The Museum maintains the following Hall of Fame Weekend hours: Friday, July 20: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Saturday, July 21: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 22: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Monday, July 23: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Advance tickets are not necessary but are available by contacting the Hall of Fame at 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.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Museum observes summer hours of 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend until the day before Labor Day. From Labor Day until Memorial Day Weekend, the Museum observes daily regular hours of 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Ticket prices are $19.50 for adults (13 and over), $12 for seniors (65 and over) and for those holding current memberships in the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and AMVets organizations, and $7 for juniors (ages 7-12). Members are always admitted free of charge and there is no charge for children 6 years of age or younger.  For more information, visit our Web site at baseballhall.org or call 888-HALL-OF-FAME (888-425-5633) or 607-547-7200.