Ozzie Smith Teams Up with Fellow Hall of Famers to Beat the Heat at PLAY Ball

Rod Carew, Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog help ‘Wizard’ Raise Funds for Museum’s Education Program as Hall of Fame Weekend Officially Gets Under Way

July 22, 2011
Andre Dawson instructs some participants at PLAY Ball on Friday. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Baseball's best weekend has begun – and with more than 50 Hall of Famers in Cooperstown for Induction Weekend, the party is in full swing.

But for National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Education Ambassador Ozzie Smith, part of that party always includes time to assist to the Hall of Fame's mission at his annual PLAY Ball event.

The Wizard and his Hall of Fame friends Rod Carew, Andre Dawson and Whitey Herzog hosted PLAY Ball on Friday in the annual Induction Weekend event, which was held in the Museum's Plaque Gallery and at Cooperstown High School. Participants at PLAY Ball shared stories and laughs with the Hall of Famers before getting a chance to take some ground balls under a brilliant blue sky during the Players, Legends and You event.

PLAY Ball raised funds for the diversity scholarships for the Hall of Fame's Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program.

"It's an event I truly enjoy, because it's a chance to give back and support the Hall of Fame," said Smith, noting that Friday's 80-plus degree temperatures were a vast departure from last year's rainy conditions at PLAY Ball. "And I have the chance to spend some time with (his fellow Hall of Famers). We get to enjoy ourselves."

Induction Weekend 2011 has proven especially sweet for Dawson, who is returning for his first Hall of Fame Weekend following his election in 2010.

"You get a chance to sit back and enjoy it this year," Dawson said. "It's going to go by real quick because it is so exciting. To be amongst these guys is mind-boggling."

PLAY Ball is just part of the July 22-25 Induction Weekend in Cooperstown as Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick are enshrined as the Class of 2011 at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Induction Ceremony takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 24 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 2011 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 Spotlight Series, which will feature Hall of Famers participating in interactive discussions on topics such as Scribes and Mikemen, Talent Evaluation, The Art of Pitching and The Batter's Eye. Hall of Famers scheduled to participate include Orlando Cepeda, Tony Gwynn, Tommy Lasorda, Paul Molitor, Gaylord Perry, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton and Earl Weaver. The Hall of Fame Spotlight Series, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Doubleday Field, is free and open to the public.

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 Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News; the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award to veteran baseball executive Roland Hemond; and the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence to longtime Expos and Marlins announcer Dave Van Horne. Also as part of the Awards Presentation, singer/songwriter Terry Cashman will perform his classic hit "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey and The Duke)" in recognition of the 30-year anniversary of this legendary tune. 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: Saturday, July 23: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 24: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Monday, July 25: 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 and 8 a.m. on Monday. As always, Hall of Fame Members receive free admission. A special Members' only entrance eliminates the need to wait in line. 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.