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

Hall of Fame Teammates Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry help ‘The Wizard’ Raise Funds for Museum’s Education Program; Coin Design Unveiling Also Part of Friday’s Fun

July 26, 2013
PLAY Ball participants get the opportunity to take the diamond with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. (Milo Stewart, Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame)

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – With 13 Gold Glove Awards and 15 All-Star Game appearances on his resume, Ozzie Smith is always one of Cooperstown’s most beloved visitors. 

But during Hall of Fame Weekend, the Wizard adds the role of host to his duties at the annual PLAY Ball event launching baseball’s greatest showcase. And the fans come away with memories of a visit of a lifetime. 

Hall of Fame Weekend 2013 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 12th straight year, the Hall of Fame shortstop 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 Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry 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 $5,000 for the diversity scholarships for the Hall of Fame's Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program. 

“We’re here for the Hall of Fame’s education department because the Hall of Fame is about educating people,” said Smith, who serves as the Museum’s Education Ambassador. “And what better way to educate people than to give them the chance to spend some time with us and get to know us a little bit more on a personal level.”  

Following PLAY Ball, fans got a sneak peek at 2014 in the Museum with the unveiling of the coin designs for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin. The common reverse (tails side) design for the United States Mint’s 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins debuted on Friday in the Museum’s Class of 2013 exhibit adjacent to the Plaque Gallery – as did the 16 finalists for the obverse (heads side) of the coin. The final design for the obverse side will be selected this fall. 

The July 26-28 Induction Weekend in Cooperstown features the enshrinement of Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert and Deacon White as the Class of 2013 at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Induction Ceremony takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 28 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 2013 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. 

On Saturday, July 27, 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 Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Longtime Blue Jays voice Tom Cheek will be honored posthumously with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence, with Cheek’s widow Shirley accepting the award. Also as part of the Awards Presentation, the Museum will salute Thomas Tull, who produced the Jackie Robinson biopic “42”; and Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered the groundbreaking ligament replacement procedure now known as “Tommy John Surgery.” John, who won 288 games in the big leagues, will also be on hand. The returning Hall of Famers will watch the Awards Presentation from seats on the Doubleday Field stage. 

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 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 28 prior to the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. 

The Saturday, July 27 events at historic Doubleday Field will begin as the Museum honors the 75th anniversary of Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First? and the 125th anniversary of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem Casey at the Bat at a special 3:30 p.m. pre-show program. A live performance of Who’s On First? by Gil “Bud” Palmer and Lou Sciara, noted for their portrayal of the classic comedy duo, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, will be staged for all fans in attendance. Joining Palmer and Sciara will be the Hall of Fame’s Director of Research Tim Wiles, who will portray The Mighty Casey in Casey At The Bat. Gates will open for the performances at 3 p.m., and it event is free and open to the public. 

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 fourth 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 27: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 28: 8 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.