Digi-Blog goes to Smoltz’s induction weekend in Cooperstown …

coop

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Walked past a Houston Astros fan who is here to see Craig Biggio go into the Hall of Fame. I think he summed it best: “I never realized there were so many Houston Astros fans.”

Seriously. They’re everywhere. Any reason to get out of Houston, probably.

But Cooperstown is that kind of place. Sports fans make pilgrimages to come to Cooperstown (population: 1,852) to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, whether to honor past heroes or dip themselves in nostalgia. (Sorry. Promise I won’t wax on too much.) But if you haven’t been here, it’s worth the trip. It’s a cool museum and even cooler surroundings, notwithstanding John Rocker’s presence on Main St.

With that, a few snapshots from this weekend, via Digi-Blog, Inc.:

cornA lot of cornfields. Of course. Because it figures that near these corny fields of dreams, there would be …

hof

… this. The Hall. Problem is: Shoeless Joe has never been allowed to make the walk from the corn field to this building on Main Street. (He should be. But that’s another blog.)

doubleday

This is Doubleday Field. It sits two blocks from the Hall of Fame and is called the “Birthplace of Baseball” (even though it really isn’t). The stadium was built in 1920. Strangely, it hasn’t been torn down yet. This would never work in Atlanta.

IMG_0110

I don’t know how much competition there is in the category of “T-shirt trilogies.” But this has to be in first place.

sparhsain

The Braves picked up two pitching prospects in the Kelly Johnson-Juan Uribe trade. (From a memorabilia shop on Main St.)

mankoufax

I had a heart-to-heart with Sandy Koufax. (True story: Only two people in my life I ever was nervous about meeting. One was Sandy Koufax, my sports hero. The other was Jim Murray, the Pulitzer Prize winning sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times. I met Koufax in the early 1980s when I worked in L.A. and covered the Lakers. We were on a road trip in San Antonio. Kouxfax, then a roving minor-league instructor for the Dodgers, was at the game and his seat was courtside — next to mine. Pretty sure I drooled on him and had a sweaty palm when I introduced myself and shook his hand.

smoltzexhibitJohn Smoltz doesn’t look happy to see you, shortly after you walk into the Hall. But he’s in a zone.

plaquesThe Braves’ new subdivision in Cooperstown: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox on the left, will be joined by Smoltz on the right.

smoltz

Here’s the real Smoltz. He said Saturday he will keep his speech to 18 minutes. Ten is generally the limit. “Bet the over,” said Jeff Foxworthy. “Bet the over,” said Tom Glavine. Smoltz comes from a long line of accordion players but he threw away a potential career to play baseball. Do you believe that? I asked Smoltz the question that no other media member would dare ask: Are you going to play a song during your induction speech? “There were thoughts of that. Let me tell you something, believe me, I’ve thought of a lot of different ways to make it unique and special. But I have not picked up the accordion since I was seven years old. I can play the keys but I can’t play the bass.” I think “Lady of Spain” would’ve added something nice.

 

aaron-bondsHank Aaron has a far bigger area devoted to his career in the Hall of Fame than Barry Bonds does.

bondsHere’s the Bonds’ gallery.

3someWhen you’re the new commissioner of baseball (Rob Manfred, standing center), you get to golf with Greg Maddux (on tee) and Phil Niekro (far left). Assume this is more fun than collective bargaining talks.

carThis is David O’Brien’s rented yellow Kia Soul. Just felt like destroying his street cred a little.

George Brett (hearts) Reggie Jackson

brett

George Brett won the press conference again. The Hall of Famer, who never failed to entertain on or off the field, touched on a few subjects before teeing off in a golf outing Saturday. The highlights:

— On the special fraternity of Hall of Famers (as he’s wearing a “Reg-gie!” hat):  “I mean, look at the hat I’m wearing. I hated Reggie (Jackson) when he played for Oakland. I hated Reggie when he played for Baltimore. I hated Reggie when he played for the Yankees. I hated Reggie when he played for the Angels. Now he’s one of my best friends here. He had this hat yesterday and I said, ‘Where’s my hat?’ He said, ‘You wouldn’t wear it.’ I said ‘I’ll wear it during the golf tournament and I’ll wear it at home.’”

— On the anniversary of the “Pine Tar Game” (Flashback: In 1983, Brett’s go-ahead two-run homer against the Yankees was nullified when umpires ruled pine tar went too high up on his bat. Kansas City won a protest, the home run was restored and the game resumed the next day with the Royals winning):  “It brings back a lot of good memories. It wasn’t like a groundball went through my legs and I’m remembered for that. Prior to that, I was known as the guy with the hemorrhoids in the ’80 World Series. Every on-deck circle I went to from 1980 to July 24, 1983, on the road I heard every hemorrhoids joke you can imagine. After July 25 I was the pine tar guy. Who would you rather me remembered as?”
(Flashback II: Brett had to leave a World Series game because of hemorrhoids pain, had minor surgery the next day and returned the next game to hit a home run. His brother, Ken Brett, mused, “It will go down in the anals of baseball history.”)

rocker

Sub-human John Rocker was in town again signing autographs in front of a memorabilia store. However, when I went to his scheduled 4-to-7 signing on Saturday, he didn’t show up. A store employee pleaded ignorance. As you can see on the sign, Rocker (when present) was charging $20 for a regular autograph and $25 for an autograph “with bad words.” Hah! I took money from him. He already swore at me for free!

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Reader Comments 0

8 comments
davidbronson
davidbronson

I hope as a baseball writer you understand the 3 tee shirts, I think is pretty cool

UncleTom
UncleTom

A fine article!  I still resent the fact that I missed seeing both Sandy Koufax and The Beatles because my folks didn't move from Savannah to Atlanta until the fall of 1966----just a little too late to see either.

The Dude Abides
The Dude Abides

Nice article, Jeff. Smoltz was always my favorite pitcher to watch because he was so competitive. I remember watching him pitch against the best of the best and winning. I still remember getting in trouble for missing a history test because I stayed up so late watching him pitch in game 7 of the 91 World Series. I was so depressed after that game but knew that the Braves were special. Too bad they didn't win more titles. 96 hurt the most.

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

That Ken Brett quote is priceless. The digs at Rocker are unnecessary. I hope a lot of people watched the ceremony today- it just doesn't get any better. Congrats to Smoltzie, et al.

JSSN
JSSN

Despite his (Michigan) State ties, I'd like to extend congratulations to John Smoltz on entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's a long way from watching you on field in Ypsilanti when you were pitching for Lansing-Waverly against Willow Run and actually had hair!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Congrats Smoltzie!!

My absolute favorite Brave of all time!

SteveTu
SteveTu

Jeff, what time does Smoltz take the stand?  Great article!

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Great blog from Jeff.

I've been to Cooperstown and can heartily recommend a visit - it's a great place.