The Wizard Combines His Passion for Baseball and Education at the 11th Edition of Hall of Fame Weekend Favorite PLAY Ball

Ozzie Smith and Special Guests Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Paul Molitor to Share the Field with Fans at the Museum’s Annual Education Fundraiser, July 20

July 12, 2012
The ever-popular PLAY Ball with Ozzie Smith gives fans a chance to play catch and even turn a double play with the Wizard. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Ozzie Smith spent 19 big league seasons revolutionizing the way shortstops played defense. 

But since his Hall of Fame induction in 2002, The Wizard has become a champion of another cause close to his heart: Education. 

For Smith, it all comes together on Hall of Fame Weekend during his annual PLAY Ball event in Cooperstown. 

Smith, the Education Ambassador for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, will host PLAY Ball with Ozzie Smith on Friday, July 20 from 8 a.m. until noon in Cooperstown. Ozzie will welcome fellow Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Paul Molitor as his guests during a fun-filled morning that gives fans a unique chance to experience on-field moments and stories with Hall of Famers. 

PLAY Ball is a Museum fundraiser that supports the Hall of Fame’s educational programs and internship scholarships. Participants in PLAY Ball each receive on-field round-robin interaction with the Hall of Famers along with special mementos to commemorate their experience. The event will begin at 8 a.m. July 20 with an exclusive morning reception in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery with Ozzie and his Hall of Fame friends. Following photos, stories and interaction with their Hall of Fame guides, PLAY Ball participants will hit the field at a Cooperstown-area diamond, where they will receive two hours of instruction along with non-stop interaction from some of the greatest players the game has known. 

Since hosting the event annually beginning in 2002, Ozzie Smith has helped raise more than $110,000 for the Museum’s educational outreach programs and the Ozzie Smith Diversity Scholarships, presented annually to members of the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. Smith, a 13-time Gold Glove Award winner, will lead the PLAY Ball event for the 11th consecutive year. 

Bench, a 14-time National League All-Star as a catcher and two-time NL MVP, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1989. Fisk was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000 following a 24-year big league career that featured 11 All-Star Game appearances. Molitor, a Class of 2004 member at the Hall of Fame, recorded 3,319 hits in his 21-year big league career. 

PLAY Ball is part of the July 20-23 Hall of Fame Weekend activities that will be highlighted by the July 22 Induction Ceremony when Barry Larkin and Ron Santo will be enshrined as the Class of 2012.

A limited number of spaces for PLAY Ball remain, and a reservation is required. Event pricing is $600 for Members, $800 for non-Members. Members may reserve spots now by calling 607-547-0397. For more information on Membership, please visit www.baseballhall.org

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.