Hall of Famers PLAY Ball in Cooperstown

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – For Ozzie Smith, Hall of Fame Weekend began in the same unforgettable way it has for the last two decades. For Dave Winfield, this year’s trip to Cooperstown started with a memorable tribute to one of the game’s pioneers.

And for thousands of fans in Cooperstown, the start of baseball’s best weekend brought a feeling of celebration 48 hours before the induction of the Class of 2022.

Along with his Hall of Fame friends Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr. and Jim Thome, Smith told stories and reminisced with Museum supporters on Friday at PLAY Ball, the 19th version of his annual Museum fundraiser. Smith, the Museum’s Education Ambassador, hosts the event to help support the Museum’s educational mission. PLAY Ball also raises funds for diversity scholarships for the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development.

With 50 participants this year, PLAY Ball was a sellout and raised nearly $40,000.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and at this point we’ve raised close to $250,000 for the Hall of Fame’s Education Department throughout the years,” Smith said. “I think for fans to have the opportunity to get a chance to meet some of their heroes is special. And for us, it’s special too, because you’re creating a memory.”

Winfield experienced a memorable moment Thursday evening when he visited the gravesite of 2022 Hall of Fame electee Bud Fowler, who was buried in Frankfort, N.Y. – about 30 miles north of Cooperstown. Winfield, who will speak on Fowler’s behalf at Sunday’s Induction Ceremony, paid tribute to one of Black baseball’s pioneers.

“I am honored to be able to speak for you,” Winfield said as he addressed the spirit of Fowler in Frankfort. “I thank you for blazing a trail for all of us.”

Hall of Fame Weekend 2022 runs through Monday in Cooperstown. The Class of 2022, featuring Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Buck O’Neil and David Ortiz, will be inducted at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 24, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Admission to the Induction Ceremony is free.

The 2022 Induction Ceremony will be televised live exclusively on MLB Network. Coverage begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The Induction Ceremony will also be available via a webcast at mlb.com.

The Hall of Fame Awards Presentation will be held as a private event at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, with a live simulcast on the big screen at Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field. Tim Kurkjian will receive the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Career Excellence Award and Jack Graney will be posthumously honored with the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award.

Also on Saturday, July 23, the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends returns to provide fans with more thrills. Hall of Famers will ride down Main Street in trucks en route to a private reception at the Museum during the 6 p.m. event.

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. – 7 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.

For a Hall of Fame Weekend visitors guide, please click here.

Follow all the action during Hall of Fame Weekend with the #HOFWKND hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.