Hall of Famers savor their Cooperstown rituals
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For the last 37 years, Al Kaline has called one room home at the Otesaga. “Louise and I have stayed in the same hotel room since the year after my induction,” recounted “Mr. Tiger.” “It’s a little off the beaten path, it’s quieter, and it used to have easy access to a nice porch. We love coming back to Cooperstown. It’s such a special place.”
Every Friday morning of Hall of Fame Weekend, Wade Boggs, an avid fisherman, is on Otsego Lake reeling in small and large mouth bass, trout and landlocked salmon. And when Pat Gillick arrives in town, he and his wife Doris walk the entire village. Andre Dawson wanders from the hotel in search of pumpkin bread at Schneider’s Bakery. This has been his laser focus every year since 2010. For Bruce Sutter, a Saturday evening cigar on the side porch of the hotel is his ritual.
Ozzie Smith and Eddie Murray grew up together in Los Angeles. For them, it’s dinner at one of the local restaurants, where they catch up on being 1973 teammates at Locke High School in Los Angeles.
Tom Seaver’s been a Hall of Famer since 1992. “On Saturday night, I always visit the plaques of Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson,” said the 311-game winner. “Good to see you boys,” he says, as he rubs their hats.
Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and Tony Pérez, and their families, can be found in the hotel lobby, late on Saturday night, reminiscing about being among a very small group of Latinos playing in the 1960s and 70s, paving the way for today’s Caribbean stars.
And once the Induction Ceremony is over, and the “team photo” has been completed, the Hall of Fame members laugh and chat while waiting for their annual Hall of Famers Dinner to begin, where the rookies receive their Hall of Fame rings.
Jeff Idelson is the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum