Throughout the past few days in Cooperstown, fans from all over have made the voyage for the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend. While the most prominent fan bases belonged to teams like the Braves, Tigers, Padres, and Angels, there were also several Sox fans who made the trip to see the big man, Jim Thome, get inducted. I was lucky enough to meet up with a few of them to chat about their experience.
If you are active on White Sox Twitter, then you will probably recognize this name. Pete Hand, also known by “Aloha Mr. Hand,” is a proud ambassador for the guys over at From The 108. Pete made the two-hour flight to Cooperstown from Chicago for his fourth Hall of Fame Induction weekend. His first visit came back in 2014 for Frank Thomas and he has made the trip out every year since, with the exception of 2017. Pete has also been up several times during the Memorial Day weekend for the Hall of Fame Classic, where he’s seen guys like Aaron Rowand and A.J. Pierzynski play, with A.J. actually winning the home run derby this past May. When I asked Pete what some of his favorite moments were from Cooperstown, Frank Thomas’ induction was a given. But the one thing that really stood out was his first time walking through the gallery and seeing the plaques of all the baseball legends. When it comes to the coolest things he’s seen in the museum itself, Pete listed items like George Brett’s pine tar bat, the 1917 red pullover White Sox uniform, and Steve Dahl’s helmet from Disco Demolition at Comiskey. One other cool thing that I learned about Pete was that he has a special item of his own inside the museum. After making a donation a while back, he now has his own bench with a small plaque to mark it, located right outside the gift shop. So next time you’re visiting, be sure to look for it because White Sox fans are always welcome.
Favorite Jim Thome Moment: “The Blackout Game, without question. For a regular season game, that is number one by far. Just the electricity, and the crowd, and the distance that ball went.”
Scott is another regular on White Sox Twitter who you might recognize. This was his very first time in Cooperstown and get this, he flew in all the way from Southern California! Luckily, he made a quick pit-stop in Chicago with his wife Amanda and friends. I must say, their flight to New York was loaded with big names like Dave Winfield, Carlton Fisk, and the infamous Pete Hand. The main reason why Scott made the trip out was to see Jim Thome get inducted, but also because his best friend is a diehard Angels fan. Scott promised him that they would fly out whenever Vlad Guerrero went in and it just so happened that Thome was going in with him. Overall, Scott had an awesome experience and his favorite moment came during the legends parade when Ken Griffey Jr. stopped to sign his Mariners jersey. Check out the tweet below:
— scott garcia (@scottgarcia35) July 29, 2018
Favorite Jim Thome Moment: “My best friend is a big Angels fan. We were together at the house in California, barbequing and watching the game when Thome hit his 500th home run. It was against the Angels and I just remember going completely buck wild when he hit that home run. We both went to Chicago together a couple years later when the Sox played against the Angels and Thome hit another walk-off, so he’s a legendary Angel killer.”
A White Sox fan since the days of the 1959 American League champion team, Dale Brigger was another one who made the trip out to Cooperstown. All in all, he spent a day and a half traveling from Milwaukee to upstate New York for the special weekend. This wasn’t his first trip either. The 2018 Induction actually marked the fifth time he was in Cooperstown for the festivities. He was even in attendance for Frank Thomas’ induction back in 2014. When asked which Sox player he’d like to see go in next, Dale hopes it is The Captain, Paul Konerko. I am sure Sox fans everywhere agree wholeheartedly as that would be an awesome sight to see.
Favorite Jim Thome Moment: “His 500th home run to win the game.”
Scott and Judy McCue
Traveling from Chicago, Scott and Judy returned to Cooperstown for a second straight weekend, having been there the weekend prior for The Glimmerglass Festival. Originally from the east coast, the couple moved to the North Side, but found themselves rooting for the Sox. They thoroughly enjoyed the 2005 team and eventually went on to become season ticket holders in 2006 because of all that transpired and Jim Thome’s arrival.
Favorite Jim Thome Moments: “We were there for his 500th and 550th home runs, but the last home run we saw him hit was number 607. He was with the Phillies. He came in and hit a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.” (Judy)
“And I would say, the other great delight was having been to 500 and 550, we were out, I think going out to the symphony on the night of 600. We came home and turned on the television to see what had happened. And there’s Jimmy Thome at the plate. I said to Judy, ‘he must have hit a homer because they’re replaying something.’ It turns out, he did hit a homer and it was live so we saw 600 on television, and that may be one of the high points.” (Scott)
I would like to thank the above fans for being kind enough to stop for a few questions. It was awesome speaking with everyone to hear where they were traveling from and what their experiences were like. I think it’s safe to say this past weekend will be added to the list of great memories as it was another unforgettable induction.