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A reunion for Ozzie, TWIB
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07/25/2002 5:55 pm ET 
A reunion for Ozzie, TWIB
Hall-of-Famer-to-be hosts July 27 episode
By Matthew Leach /

Not a bad week: Ozzie Smith lands on a Wheaties box, hosts "This Week in Baseball," then gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Jim McKnight/AP)
For most baseball fans, Cooperstown, N.Y., has a "Field of Dreams" quality to it. For Ozzie Smith, a recent trip to Cooperstown was more like "Back to the Future."

The man who will soon become the newest Hall of Famer had his orientation weekend at the Hall in May. He looked ahead to his July 28 induction, and called the experience a bit "eerie." At the same time, Smith got back to his roots a bit, taping "This Week in Baseball" for the episode that airs this Saturday, July 27, on FOX at 12:30 p.m. ET/PT. The former Cardinals and Padres shortstop hosted TWIB for two years after his retirement as a player in 1996.

The popular and long-running series no longer has a regular host. Instead, each week there is a guest host, a player or players from a different team. Smith, as a "TWIB" veteran and the only player being inducted into the Hall this year, made for a perfect fit.

"It made for an easy transition for me with 'This Week in Baseball' because I grew up watching that show," Smith said. "And when (original host) Mel Allen passed away, they asked me if I'd be interested in hosting the show, and I jumped at that opportunity because it was such a great vehicle for baseball fans across the country. And it kept me close to the game without all the aches and pains."

The folks at MLB Productions, which puts out TWIB, had full access to the newest Hall of Famer over orientation, and they've been following him since he got the call in January. The very special HOF edition of the show traces Smith's year from the announcement that he would be inducted all the way to his visit to Cooperstown. Next week, TWIB will let viewers in on "The Wizard's" experiences over induction weekend.

"Ozzie has remained a close friend of MLB Productions since his days on TWIB, and we have been looking forward to his inevitable induction into the Hall of Fame," said Steve Fortunato, senior managing producer at MLB Productions. "We have been granted exclusive access by Ozzie to follow him during this weekend's festivities, and in next week's TWIB we'll take you behind the scenes of his special weekend."

In addition to Ozzie's 2002 experiences, TWIB will look back at Smith's career, from his start in San Diego (and those brown and yellow uniforms!) to his glory years with the Cardinals.

With the mountain of demands and requests on his time these days, the opportunity to go to Cooperstown before the induction was special for Smith. He still had to travel, but it was a different kind of experience.

"Going to Cooperstown and knowing that I'll have a plaque in there that will be there forever is very, very special," Smith said. "And the opportunity to go and have my kids with me when I go ... it's a very special time."

Of course, Hall of Fame Weekend is not the only thing going on in baseball this week, so it's not the only thing going on in "This Week in Baseball."

This week's "TWIB Notes" segment, tipping its cap to Nomar Garciaparra, looks at players who have hit multiple home runs on their birthdays. "Pepsi's Pitch, Hit and Run Skill of the Week" stars Ken Griffey Jr. discussing wall-climbing. "TWIB Classic" looks back at 1993 and the "Attack of the Kiler Tarp" at what was then known as Joe Robbie Stadium. And the Expos' bullpen provides play-by-play and commentary on the week's most memorable plays and bloopers in "How 'Bout That."

It's a special weekend in baseball, and a special "This Week in Baseball."

Matthew Leach covers the Cardinals for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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