Hall of Fame East-West Classic Thrills Players, Fans in Cooperstown

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – A perfect day for baseball, a sellout crowd at Doubleday Field, 14 Hall of Famers and two dozen legendary players combined to produce an instant classic in Cooperstown.

Bob Feller Player of the Game Ryan Howard went 2-for-3 with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to lead Team East past Team West 5-4 on Saturday in front of 5,740 fans at the Hall of Fame East-West Classic. Presented by Boeing and fueled by assistance from Major League Baseball, the Classic paid tribute to the legends of Black baseball – many of whom played on the same historic field throughout the years.

The Hall of Fame officially opened The Souls of the Game exhibit on Friday, with more than a dozen Hall of Famers and hundreds of distinguished visitors returning to Cooperstown for the event.

“It’s a great way to cap off the entire weekend, and it was a lot of fun,” said Howard, who hit 382 home runs during his 13-year career with the Phillies. “I’m just glad I’m standing here. I was trying to put the fat part of bat on the ball, I got something down and in and I was able to turn on it.”

Saturday’s legends game was called after five-and-a-half innings to follow the prescribed two-hour time limit, and the fans saw one of the game’s best plays at the very end as Adam Jones – playing shortstop for Team East – made a nifty stop and threw out Ian Desmond with two on and two out as Tony Sipp recorded the save.

Team West took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second on a towering home run to right field by Curtis Granderson before Tony Gwynn Jr. cut the deficit to 2-1 with a home run for Team East in the bottom of the third. Desmond singled home Team West captain CC Sabathia in the top of the fifth to make the score 3-1, and Justin Upton’s single later in the inning scored Dexter Fowler to increase Team West’s advantage to 4-1.

But Team East scored a run on an RBI groundout by David Price in the bottom of the fifth and Howard later followed with his home run for the game’s final runs.

Jones, who hit 282 home runs over 14 seasons with the Mariners, Orioles and Diamondbacks, won the pregame Home Run Derby, defeating Prince Fielder in the finals. Jones, who retired as an active player after the 2019 season, was making his first trip to Cooperstown.

“I don’t know how to really describe it,” Jones said. “To be here with all the Hall of Famers, and then we got the tour of the Museum this morning – it’s hard to put into words. This is a special, special, special place.”

The Hall of Fame East-West Classic: A Tribute to the Negro Leagues All-Star Game featured Hall of Famer coaches Harold BainesRollie FingersPat GillickKen Griffey Jr.Fergie JenkinsJim KaatFred McGriffEddie MurrayJim RiceRyne SandbergLee SmithOzzie SmithJoe Torre and Dave Winfield.

The East-West Classic rosters consisted of team captains CC Sabathia and Chris Young along with former major league players Josh BarfieldJosé ContrerasIan DesmondPrince FielderDexter FowlerDoug GlanvilleCurtis GrandersonTony Gwynn Jr.Jerry HairstonScott HairstonLaTroy HawkinsRyan HowardEdwin JacksonJeremy JeffressAdam JonesRussell MartinDarrell MillerMelvin MoraDavid PriceTyson RossTony SippB.J. Upton and Justin Upton.

Little League World Series hero Mo’ne Davis also played in the East-West Classic, and two-time All-Star Harold Reynolds of MLB Network and Mets World Series hero Mookie Wilson were honorary team members. Former Negro Leagues stars Sam Allen and Pedro Sierra also attended the Hall of Fame East-West Classic.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum partnered with Ebbets Field Flannels to outfit Hall of Famers and former MLB stars participating in the Hall of Fame East-West Classic. The personalized replica wool jersey tops represented nine iconic Negro Leagues teams: American Giants, Baltimore Elite Giants, Birmingham Barons, Detroit Stars, Homestead Grays, Indianapolis Clowns, Kansas City Monarchs, Newark Eagles and Pittsburgh Crawfords. The Hall of Fame East-West Classic uniforms included a sleeve patch with the game logo.

Game-worn jerseys from Hall of Famers and participating players at the Hall of Fame East-West Classic will be auctioned off by MLB, with the net proceeds being donated to the Hall of Fame to support the institution’s mission. The auction is now live at www.mlb.com/hof and runs through 8 p.m. ET on June 2.

Located on the Museum’s second floor in the Yawkey Gallery, The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball covers stories of early Black baseball, the Negro Leagues era, the complexities of reintegration, Jackie Robinson, post-reintegration progress and retrogress, and calls for change in today’s game while celebrating the newest superstars of the era. Meaningful stories from Black baseball are also being added to other exhibits throughout the Museum.

On Thursday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum paid tribute to Hank Aaron’s singular legacy with the unveiling of a statue that will stand for all time at the home of baseball. With Aaron’s widow Billye on hand for the festivities along with more than a dozen Hall of Famers and scores of former big leaguers, Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark officially welcomed the statue to its home on the Museum’s first floor. Located at the base of the Grand Staircase, the bronze likeness of Aaron – entitled Keep Swinging – will welcome thousands of guests to the Museum each year.

CLASSIC NOTEBOOK: Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Lee Smith helped honor the 2023 George W. Rulon American League Baseball Player of the Year: Jacob Cyr of Post 554 in League City, Texas…Nikko Smith, son of Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and A Top 10 finalist on Season Four of American Idol, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.…The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by Billye Aaron, widow of Hank Aaron, who was escorted to the mound by Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. before tossing the ball to CC Sabathia…During the game, the Players Alliance – which provided free Hall of Fame admission for all fans on Saturday – announced a donation to the Youth Enrichment Outreach Program of Syracuse, N.Y., which will help Y.E.O.P. assist youth in redefining their goals, build self-esteem and empower them to improve through youth sports and educational programming.

Hall of Fame Weekend 2024 will take place July 19-22 in Cooperstown, with the Induction Ceremony on Sunday, July 21. Adrian Beltré, Todd Helton, Jim Leyland and Joe Mauer will be inducted as the Class of 2024 on the grounds of Cooperstown’s Clark Sports Center. For more information on Hall of Fame Weekend, please visit baseballhall.org/hofw.