Curtain Rises on Hall of Fame Weekend as Ozzie Smith and Friends Return to PLAY Ball
The Wizard and Hall of Fame Teammates Andre Dawson, Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux help Support Museum’s Education Program
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Three-hundred and sixty-two days ago, Greg Maddux stood on the Clark Sports Center stage and thanked 48,000 friends and family for getting him to Cooperstown.
On Friday, Maddux came back to the Induction Site – this time as a returning Hall of Famer. And on an amateur diamond about 100 yards from where he experienced the pinnacle of his baseball career, Maddux again thrilled fans – this time at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s PLAY Ball event.
“It’s a lot different this year – I can play a lot more golf,” laughed Maddux, who had already been out on Cooperstown’s Leatherstocking Golf Course earlier in the weekend. “It’s great to be able to relax and talk to the people at this event. It’s what this weekend is about.”
Hall of Fame Weekend 2015 officially got under way on Friday with the 14th edition of Ozzie Smith’s 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. A sellout crowd of 60 lucky fans had the chance to swap stories with The Wizard of Oz and his Hall of Fame teammates Andre Dawson, Ferguson Jenkins and Maddux in the Museum’s iconic Plaque Gallery before taking infield practice on the diamond at the Induction Site during a perfectly sunny morning in Cooperstown.
“I think it’s important for us to be able to give something back, it’s an easy way to be able to connect with fans,” said Smith, the Hall of Fame’s Education Ambassador who has hosted the annual PLAY Ball since being elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002. “I think they get a chance to see the players in a totally different light, up close and personal.”
PLAY Ball raised nearly $40,000 for the Museum education program during the second sellout in program history, the first since 2007.
“(The Museum’s Education Program is) a very vital part of what makes this place so special,” Smith said. “We’re in the business of creating memories, and PLAY Ball reminds them of all of those great times that they’ve been able to spend with their father, their mother, the family. So it’s a very special event.”
Hall of Fame Weekend 2015 runs July 24-27 in Cooperstown. The Class of 2015, featuring Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and John Smoltz, will be enshrined at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 26 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Admission to the Induction Ceremony is free.
The 2015 Induction Ceremony will be televised live on MLB Network. Greg Amsinger, Peter Gammons, Brian Kenny, Kevin Millar and Harold Reynolds will host MLB Network’s live telecast of the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Coverage begins at noon ET on Sunday.
The Induction Ceremony will also be available via a webcast at www.baseballhall.org.
The Hall of Fame Awards Presentation will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 at Doubleday Field and will feature the presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters to Dick Enberg; and the presentation of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers to Tom Gage. The Awards Presentation will also feature a tribute to the legacy and contributions of former Reds, Cardinals and Senators outfielder Curt Flood, whose test of the reserve clause via the United States Supreme Court in the early 1970s laid the groundwork for the advent of free agency several years later. Tony Clark, the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, will speak on behalf of Flood. The Museum will also recognize all the ballplayers who served in World War II, with United States Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaking on behalf of all military branches.
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 26 prior to the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Also on Saturday, July 25, the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends returns for a sixth year to provide fans with more thrills. Hall of Famers will ride down Main Street in trucks provided by Ford Motor Company en route to a private reception at the Museum during the 6 p.m. parade, with the staging for this year’s Parade to take place at Doubleday Field, immediately following the Awards Presentation.
The Museum maintains the following Hall of Fame Weekend hours: Saturday, July 25: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 26: 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Monday, July 27: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. For Hall of Fame Members, doors open at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and at 8 a.m. on Monday. As always, Hall of Fame Members receive free admission. Interested parties may enroll in the Membership Program in advance or at the Museum.
Follow all the action during Hall of Fame Weekend with the #HOFWKND hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+. Stay tuned to @MLB and @BaseballHall on Twitter as Hall of Famers visit the Social Media Lounge for Twitter takeovers. And follow @baseballhall on Periscope for live behind-the-scenes looks all weekend long.