Jones wins Player of the Game honors as Team Ozzie takes Hall of Fame Classic
(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – A Memorial Day Weekend tradition returned to Doubleday Field on Saturday as fans welcomed the Hall of Fame Classic back to Cooperstown.
With a big assist from partly sunny skies that overpowered the forecasted showers, the 12th edition of the Hall of Fame Classic legends game featured seven Hall of Famers and more than two dozen former Major League Baseball stalwarts. Garrett Jones, who was named the Bob Feller Player of the Game, had two homers and six RBI to lead Team Ozzie past team Fergie 10-7.
“I guess it was just muscle memory,” said Jones, who hit 122 home runs over eight seasons with the Twins, Pirates, Marlins and Yankees in a career that lasted from 2007-15. “The first one, I knew was gone. The second one, I was a little off balance. But this is just the best place in the world, so I guess it was meant to be.”
With the game-time temperature a comfortable 67 degrees and in front of 4,179 fans, Team Ozzie broke on top in the bottom of the first off Team Fergie starter José Contreras on a single by Matt Wieters that scored Carlos González. Jones followed two a two-run homer deep over the right field wall to give Team Ozzie a 3-0 lead.
Team Fergie responded in the second inning off of Team Ozzie starter Bruce Chen with a double by Alex Avila and RBI single by Steve Buechele to cut the deficit to 3-1. Bobby Abreu then made the score 3-2 in the third inning with home run into the bleachers down the right field line. Justin Maxwell followed with an RBI single that scored Carlos Peña, tying the game at 3.
Team Ozzie retook the lead on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning that scored Craig Grebeck. But Team Fergie came right back in the top of the fifth off reliever Tim Stauffer on Abreu’s second home run of the game to tie the game at 4.
It was sweet redemption for Abreu, the owner of 288 big league homers who failed to hit one out in his 10 swings in the pregame Home Run Derby.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jones’ single off reliever Keith Foulke plated González as Team Ozzie took a 5-4 lead which became a 6-4 advantage when Wieters scored on an RBI groundout. Jones then scored on a long single by Grebeck to make the score 7-4.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jones’ three-run homer off Ryan Rowland-Smith gave Team Ozzie a 10-4 lead before Team Fergie scored three runs in the top of the seventh to close the scoring.
Stauffer picked up the victory, while Foulke was charged with the loss.
González, representing the Rockies, and Maxwell, representing the Nationals, shared the pregame Home Run Derby title.
“This is such a special place, and I’m so excited to be here,” said Gonzalez, who hit 234 home runs in 12 big league seasons. “It’s my first time in Cooperstown, and to be able to hit a few out is pretty cool.”
Maxwell, who played seven big league seasons, played at Doubleday Field as a minor leaguer in the Nationals’ system.
“I knew the park from playing here before,” Maxwell said. “But I never homered here.”
The Hall of Fame Classic, presented by Boeing, featured Hall of Fame managers/coaches Wade Boggs, Fergie Jenkins, Tim Raines, Ted Simmons, Lee Smith, Ozzie Smith and Alan Trammell along with players Bobby Abreu (Phillies), Willie Aikens (Royals), Alex Avila (Tigers), Carlos Baerga (Guardians), Pat Borders (Blue Jays), Steve Buechele (Rangers), Bruce Chen (Braves), José Contreras (White Sox), Keith Foulke (Red Sox), David Freese (Cardinals), Carlos González (Rockies), Craig Grebeck (Angels), Garrett Jones (Pirates), Terrence Long (Athletics), Justin Maxwell (Nationals), Corky Miller (Reds), Carlos Peña (Rays), Ryan Rowland-Smith (Mariners), Steve Sax (Dodgers), Tim Stauffer (Padres), Nick Swisher (Yankees), Steve Swisher (Cubs), Matt Wieters (Orioles), Chris Young (Diamondbacks) and Todd Zeile (Mets).
“This is a sacred place,” said Trammell, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018. “Any chance I have to be here, I’m coming back.”
CLASSIC NOTEBOOK: Hall of Famer Lee Smith helped present the 2021 George W. Rulon American League Baseball Player of the Year award to Nate Rose of American Legion Post 56 of Idaho Falls, Idaho…The National Colors and the US Army Colors were presented by the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division Artillery of nearby Fort Drum, led by Staff Sergeant Jesse LaRose…The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by Mike Corrigan, Senior Director of State and Local Government Relations, Eastern Region for Boeing, and his son Michael…Jim Doepke of Estero, Fla., played the Star-Spangled Banner…Cooperstown’s Emily DeSantis-Tabor performed God Bless America…The umpires for the game were: Joe Kovaluskie (home plate), Shawn Beckerink (first base), Jim Dutcher (second base) and Bob Moore (third base).
Hall of Fame Weekend 2022 will take place July 22-25 in Cooperstown, with the Induction Ceremony on Sunday, July 24. Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Buck O’Neil and David Ortiz will be inducted as the Class of 2022 on the grounds of Cooperstown’s Clark Sports Center.