Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hall of Fame Weekend

I went to Cooperstown this weekend to see Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Me, Cal and 75,000 of our closest friends celebrated. It was magic.

I'm a life-long Orioles fan, and so even though it took me a train, two planes, a car and a minivan to get there, I didn't want to miss this. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is one of rare events that takes place outside of time. In time -- during the baseball season -- I follow the Orioles; I complain about things like how lousy their relief pitching is and why firing Sam Perlozzo won't fix their problems; I watch to see if some happiness can be salvaged as they take two out of three from the Yankees; I suffer the indignity of watching them fall farther and farther out of the pennant race. But this Sunday for one shining day all of that was put aside. There was Cal. There was Earl Weaver. There was Jim Palmer. There was Eddie Murray. There was Brooks Robinson. There was Frank Robinson. For this one day, the Orioles were great again. Like I said, magic. And, oh yeah, there were 49 other members of the Hall of Fame there too.

A few other random notes on my trip:
  • I felt sort of bad for Tony Gwynn. You only get inducted into the Hall of Fame once, and Gwynn was fairly overshadowed by all the attention on Cal, not least because of the Hall's proximity to Baltimore.

  • Because of weather, Cal and Tony's induction was moved up to the beginning of the ceremony, ahead of a segment to honor long-time Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, and the presentation of career achievement awards to Kansas City broadcaster Denny Matthews and St. Louis sportswriter Rick Hummel. Perhaps predictably, about two thirds of the crowd walked out after Cal was done giving his acceptance speech. It was quite disgraceful. I felt especially bad for Bobby Doerr, who was speaking while this mass exodus took place. I couldn't hear a word he said.

  • On the way home, I had a layover in Charlotte, NC. The "Simply Books" bookstore at the Charlotte airport has quite a selection of Christian books, but I was more than a little flumoxxed by the fact that both Joel Osteen's Your Best Life Now and Jim Wallis' God's Politics showed up on their "recommended" shelf. I'm all for having a well-rounded perspective, but I can't imagine two books with more diametrically opposed visions of Christianity.

5 comments:

Chris said...

I was there, too (and blogged about it here and here), though more as an outsider than as a loyal fan. I married into a Cal-crazy family. Unfortunately, my wife, girls and I were some of the folks leaving early - the kids were melting down. I felt bad about it, but that's reality. I think the early exodus helped with traffic, however . . .

As I mention in my post, I liked the camaraderie that exists in Cooperstown, and especially among Baltimore fans during this past weekend. It's friendlier than your average church . . . And you O's fans had camaraderie in great numbers this past weekend, with all of your greats on stage and Cal being honored. It was a great day to be an O's fan.

Unfortunately, it's back to reality for you. Sorry that we didn't connect while we were in the same zip code!

Andy said...

I can definitely understand leaving early with young kids (I left mine in Oregon). Kids are enough of a challenge when you can keep them cool an occupied. And the traffic...after a pitstop in Winchester, VA to drop my uncle off, we didn't get back to the home base in Western MD until about 4 AM. So, I can see that.

Kelly Fryer said...

As a Chicagoland native and Chicago sports fan, I was less than excited to visit the new stadium in Baltimore this past spring but my son is an Orioles fan and he begged me to take him. We took the tour that got us into the media booth, into the dug out, and onto the field. The tour guide was a life long baseball and her enthusiasm was contagious. As my son sat on the bench where his hero Cal once sat, his eyes lit up like I'd never seen before. The stadium is as park-like as a big league field can be. Designed by a woman (!), it was clearly built with real live people in mind. There is even a grassy section with picnic tables where you can bring your own food and let your kids play on game day. You can walk right up to the field from the street. You know, like a PARK! I know things have changed a bit for the Orioles since the Ripkins were in town but, I've got to admit, there is something magical about that team and their connection with their fans. Great park. Great tour. Even I got a little choked up watching the Hall of Fame inductions this past week.

Diane said...

all I can say is... the Twins won today (whew).
My husband is trying to teach me about baseball.
like this post...

Thomas Adams said...

I felt sort of bad for Tony Gwynn. You only get inducted into the Hall of Fame once, and Gwynn was fairly overshadowed by all the attention on Cal…

That’s the sorry of Gwynn’s career. Playing on the West Coast, in a town without a long baseball tradition, he never got the attention he deserved from the East Coast media. But his numbers are incredible, in many ways more impressive than Ripken’s: career .338 average (never batting below .309 in a full season) and eight-time batting champ. The most incredible stat, thought, may be that he had only 434 strikeouts in 9,288 career at-bats!

I’ve been to Cooperstown twice, but never during the Hall of Fame weekend. It’s certainly something I want to do before I die.