|We all have to point to our favorite team in|
the standings on the scoreboard just outside
of the Hall of Fame museum before entering
on Saturday morning. Here in 2012, I was
pointing to last place, and will do so again
this time around.
It’s always a weekend in late July. The weather in my hometown of Cherry Hill, New Jersey is insanely humid and temperatures are in the 90s. The baseball regular season enters its final third, but unfortunately around here everyone begins to gear up for the Eagles as the Phillies are in the midst of another disappointing season. However for someone like me it’s usually a disappointing time in Philadelphia sports. While I’m as excited as the next guy about the Eagles, baseball was always my first love, and to know the Phillies season is down the drain with roughly 60 games to go disappoints me. That’s how things have been the last couple years and will be so again this year during this late July weekend. But regardless of where the Phils are in the standings, this weekend is always a special one for me.
Three days at National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend in Cooperstown, New York. For someone who fell in love with baseball at such a young age, there’s nothing better. Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice in 2009 was the first class I saw get inducted and it didn’t take me long to ask myself the question “What took so long?” as I was loving every minute of the weekend. There’s baseball merchandise in every shop, hall of famers outside almost all of the shops signing autographs, and walking right by legends of the game has become so normal to me now entering my sixth straight induction weekend trip.
While seeing the many hall of famers and browsing in the shops on Main Street is a lot of fun, what makes the trip special more so than anything else is who I’ve been going with. My dad is a lawyer. When I was little he would frequently bring me into the office to talk to Pete, another lawyer at his law firm and a gigantic baseball fan. While it was hard to accept sometimes that he was a Mets fan, we both had no problems talking baseball whenever my dad brought me in. Pete’s been a member at the Hall of Fame for quite a while as induction weekend goes back a lot further than just 2009 for him. But when my dad got the call from Pete in the winter of 2009 asking us to join, we never looked back.
Pete’s friend Tom, another huge baseball fan, flies in from California. With Pete having left my dad’s law firm and Tom living on the other side of the country it’s really the three days of the year we get to see both of them. As the induction weekends have gone by, tons of traditions have unfolded. In 2009, Pete found a 25-question quiz in Newsweek magazine by George Will. We all attempted the questions on the ride up and enjoyed it. By 2010, both Pete and I were making our own quizzes and by 2011 there were prizes awarded to those who did the best on each quiz. Tom, formerly a high school English teacher, made a literature quiz one year. Even now my saxophone-playing brother Peter, who started coming in 2011, has decided to make his own quiz about pop culture and jazz. To Pete’s credit he now goes above and beyond just a quiz. Everyone in the group that is going to Cooperstown with Pete receives their own binder which is known as the official guide and quiz. In addition to Pete’s quiz, the binder includes plenty of induction weekend information, and a history of our trips together and notable moments. George Will, just in case you happen to be reading this, this is your fault.
There are also specific eating locations which have developed over time. Our Saturday night dinner location is a place called Sal’s Pizza on Main Street. On Saturday night around six o’clock all the hall of famers that are in Cooperstown for the weekend ride down Main Street in pickup trucks in a parade for the fans. Then they gather for a dinner together. In 2012, Mike Schimdt, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and George Brett decided to have their own dinner in a loft above Sal’s. We happened to be eating outside that night and were the first to spot the four hall of famers coming up the stairs and shortly thereafter others that were eating at Sal’s began to realize. This is known as the Sal’s Pizza Encounter of 2012.
|Taken in 2013, this is outside our lunch spot on the way|
up on Friday afternoon at Subway. From left to right. Pete, Tom,
myself, Peter, and my dad.
Due to anticipation of the trip, the day before Cooperstown is known as Cooperstown Eve. It’s traditions like eating at the same places, e-mailing on Cooperstown Eve about our excitement for another trip that make this weekend so special to me. Oh and not to mention this year happens to be the best class I’ve ever seen in my time going up. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa all will be inducted. It’s no longer Cooperstown Eve. So I guess I’ll try and get some sleep before the three-day annual tradition starts all over again.