Returning to Cooperstown, Lee Smith reflects on a memorable summer
On Sept. 3, Smith served as the celebrity host for the Pathfinder Village-Baseball Hall of Fame Golf Invitational. Held at the Leatherstocking Golf Course, located on the shores of Otsego Lake, the event supports Pathfinder Village scholarships and the education programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
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The Museum in Cooperstown features more than 50,000 square feet of exhibits devoted to the National Pastime.
“I couldn’t wait to come back. This is awesome. Now I can relax,” said Smith with a laugh. “It was a little stressful the last time I was in town. But I’m enjoying being back here.”
Just prior to visiting Cooperstown, on Sept. 1, Smith’s summer of highlights included “Lee Smith Day” at Wrigley Field exactly 39 years after he made his major-league debut. Smith’s Hall of Fame plaque was also at the ballpark, as were former Cubs teammates Jody Davis, Leon Durham, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Gary Matthews, Steve Trout, Bob Dernier, Tim Stoddard and Dickie Noles.
“That day at Wrigley was probably in the top three of anything that has ever happened to me,” Smith said. “To back there and get to see Leon and Jody and Shawon and Sarge, all those guys, it was great. That let me know how I rank, taking the time out from their busy schedules to come out.
“And I was able to thank all the fans because there’s nothing but love between us since the day I arrived in Chicago. I didn’t know what to expect when coming to a big city like Chicago, but they’ve really embraced me from the start.”
Looking back on 2019, Smith paused, shook his head, and said:
“It’s been crazy but good. That main thing is that everything has been so positive. The baseball community is really like a family.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum