Former Seattle Pilot Ray Peters Visits Hall of Fame

Written by: Ryan Turnquist

A little more than 18,500 players have made the major leagues, and a little more than one percent of those have made it to the Hall of Fame.

Ray Peters, however, is part of what may be an even more exclusive club: Players who can claim to have been a member of the Seattle Pilots organization.

Peters is one of about 60 players who were members of the Seattle Pilots in Spring Training of 1970. Following their debut season in 1969 as an American League expansion team, the Pilots went bankrupt – and were purchased by Bud Selig just before the start of the 1970 season, becoming the Milwaukee Brewers.

Forty-five years later, Peters made his first trip to Cooperstown – all the way from Texas, with his wife Janis – on June 9.

Fittingly wearing a Pilots polo shirt, he marveled at the history before his eyes. Suddenly, a man in his sixties had become a kid again.

“This…this is incredible,” Peters said.

A 6-foot-5 right-hander out of Harvard University, Peters was the first selection by the Pilots during the January draft in 1969. Though he didn’t make the club out of Spring Training in 1970, Peters remembers the uncertainty hanging over the franchise.

“We heard rumors, but nobody really knew what was going on,” Peters said. “After spring training, the team just went north, they didn’t know if they were going to Seattle or Milwaukee.”

Peters was eventually called up by the Brewers in June of that year and made the only two starts of his career.

Throughout the tour with Hall of Fame senior curator Tom Shieber, Peters’ tone was excited with various gasps and inflections of wonder. Throughout their walk through the Museum, Janis snapped pictures of her husband, including one next to Walter Johnson’s locker.

“In our house, we call Ray ‘Big Train,’” she said. “He’s a kid in a candy store right now.”

Together they walked into the Library looking at articles of the past, and eventually they pulled Peters’ player file from the shelf.

More memories came flooding back. Peters talked about how, in true baseball fashion, he and Janis were married on the only off day in the 1970 season, when he played for Milwaukee’s Triple-A club in Portland. He told stories of his college career.

“Harvard was the only place that let me in,” he joked.

Upon looking through his file, Peters recounted a story of facing George Foster and even having a locker next to Lou Piniella.

“He kept me busy,” Peters said.

At the culmination of the tour, Peters was already thinking about his next visit to Cooperstown, or maybe even staying for a little while.

“How do I get an internship here?” Peters asked. “Or at least a camp for seniors!”

Ryan Turnquist is the 2015 public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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