Hall of Fame Induction Weekend in Cooperstown, New York. It’s a three-day stretch that every baseball lover dreams about. This year, I was fortunate enough to experience it myself for the very first time. While words will likely not be able to do it justice, I’ll try my best to convey everything that happened for you in this article. Here’s my day-by-day recap:
Friday, July 27, 2018
The first day of the trip. Once the credentials were secured, it was time to tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. Fans from all over, including some White Sox fans and plenty of Braves fans, made their way inside to check out the plaques and many artifacts.
First, here are a few pictures of some notable members of the White Sox…
And now, some of the cool Sox artifacts that can be seen in the various exhibits…
After touring the museum, it was time to check out the town. Several Hall of Famers were already making some appearances, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. One of them was Daryl Strawberry:
— Rich Behan (@RBehan12) July 27, 2018
Others who were out and about included Rollie Fingers (who was really enjoying a few slices of pizza), Juan Marichal, Goose Gossage, and Joe Morgan, who can be seen in the video below.
Saturday, July 28, 2018
There were plenty of things happening on Saturday around Cooperstown. In the morning, several Hall of Famers took part in a golf outing. Then, the Class of 2018 inductees met with the media. Spink Award winner Sheldon Ocker and Frick Award winner Bob Costas were the first to speak ahead of their Awards Presentation at Doubleday Field.
Ocker spent some time reflecting on his career covering Jim Thome and the Indians. He preached about how Thome was “one of the nicest guys you’re ever going to find in baseball” and called it an “honor” to be inducted with someone who he covered so extensively for years. Costas also reflected on his career and recalled a special phone call he received from Vin Scully in which the iconic broadcaster told him, “Welcome to the club” once word of his election to the hall was made public. For more on this portion of the press conference, check out Rich Behan’s article here.
Following this presser, there was a short break before the Class of 2018 strolled out onto the stage.
After a quick photo op, the six players went to their designated stations where they were flocked by media. Former White Sox Jim Thome was joined by his son, Landon, to answer some questions. Thome talked about his time growing up in Peoria, how it was a no-brainer to choose the Indians cap for his plaque, and his gratitude for everyone who’s helped him get where he’s at today.
Here’s a clip of Jim Thome describing what it was like to grow up in Peoria, Illinois:
Thome also talked about what it’s like to have his daughter sing the national anthem at the Induction ceremony on Sunday:
Once all of the press conferences concluded, it was time for Costas and Ocker to be honored at Doubleday Field. Thousands of fans packed the stands to witness two media greats give their speeches. Joining them on stage were many Hall of Famers, including Frank Thomas, Carlton Fisk, and Tim Raines.
Finally, the night concluded with one of the coolest events of Hall of Fame weekend, the parade of legends. Every Hall of Famer in attendance made their way down main street in a pick-up truck, driving past fans lined on both sides on both side of town. Here’s some photos and videos from some notable Sox players…
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The biggest day of the weekend: Induction Day. I knew it was going to be packed but since it was my first Induction, I didn’t quite know what to expect. It wasn’t until I actually approached the white tent at the Clarke Sports Center that I saw the thousands and thousands of fans who were actually there. At the post-speech press conference, it was revealed that Sunday’s crowd was estimated to be around 53,000 people, the second largest crowd behind only the 2007 Induction, which hosted 83,000 fans. People packed the lawn in all directions, stretching to the very top of the hill up the road.
The speeches began with Chipper Jones, who was greeted by thousands of Braves fans that chanted and did the infamous chop. He was then followed by Tigers great Alan Trammell and later Vlad Guerrero. Bus loads of fans from the Dominican Republic made the trip for Vladdy and waved their country’s flag proudly throughout his speech. Despite no “Hell’s Bells,” Trevor Time followed as Trevor Hoffman took to the podium. It was a little weird having him enter in a non-save situation but he delivered a great speech just like the others. The second Tigers legend to be honored, Jack Morris, delivered an awesome speech and talked about how great it was to go in with his longtime teammate. Finally, it was Thome time. They saved the best for last because Thome delivered an awesome speech. If you weren’t able to watch it, do yourself a favor and check it out. I was able to get a brief clip of Thome talking about his time with the Sox, which can be viewed below:
Once the speeches were over, the Hall of Famers met the press for a brief Q&A session. The players all talked about that moment when they reached the top of the hill by the Clarke Sports Center by bus and saw the thousands of people upon arrival. You could tell everyone was relieved to have their speeches over with, while enjoying every bit of their induction. After the press conference, the players were on their way to a dinner reception.
Later in the evening, a group of fans packed the museum to get a glimpse of the new plaques as they were unveiled and installed. While this is always a special moment, it was even more so as Jim Thome’s father and family were in attendance.
After giving it the Chuck Thome seal of approval, Jim Thome’s father even helped install the plaque onto its backer. This was by far, the coolest moment of the entire weekend.
Here’s how Jim Thome’s plaque and the others looked in their final home.
Unfortunately, this marked the end of an incredible weekend in Cooperstown. It was an unforgettable experience as I got to see many of the players that I grew up watching and others whose baseball cards I have collected and stored in binders throughout my childhood. I definitely cannot wait to head back for future inductions and hopefully, get to see another White Sox go in as well.