07/27/2002 9:12 pm ET
Comings, goings in Cooperstown
Hall of Fame notes: Golf and baseball on agenda
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Ozzie Smith won't be making a comeback to the big leagues, not at age 47. But he still gets out on the baseball field once in a while for a good cause.
Smith's "Turn Two" foundation provides fans the opportunity to turn a double play with one of the game's all-time greats. "The Wizard" holds the all-time record for double plays turned with 1,590. Twenty-eight pairs of guests contributed either $750 (for members of Friends of the Hall of Fame) or $1,000 for the privilege of playing second and first next to Smith on Friday.
The fundraiser at Cooperstown's historic Doubleday Field brought in $21,500 for "America Grows Inning by Inning," the educational program of the Hall of Fame.
In addition to the time on the field, the participants receive a video of the experience, an autographed baseball and a photograph with Smith, this year's Hall of Fame inductee.
Well, at least they played baseball the right way
The Hall of Fame is considered a paragon of all that is right with the game, many of its members among baseball's most beloved ambassadors. But when they take things to the golf course, some of that decency and fair play goes out the window.
The annual Hall of Fame golf tournament took place Saturday morning in Cooperstown, and Smith experienced first hand the old racing saying that "If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying hard enough to win."
"One thing that I did learn today is that you can't be honest when you play golf here," Smith said at his press conference Saturday morning. "They didn't tell me that. That's part of the risk of being a rookie, I guess. I (will) know next year. We (Smith and his three teammates) shot a 60 today and we thought we did pretty well. And the first score I saw when I walked up to the board was a 56... Gaylord Perry. I had to learn the hard way."
Who will cover it?
With the Phillies and Cardinals represented in this year's Hall of Fame class, many of the reporters in Cooperstown usually cover those two teams. Smith played 15 seasons in St. Louis, while Ford C. Frick Award winner Harry Kalas is a Phillies broadcaster.
So it was ironic that on Saturday those two teams were reportedly close to a blockbuster trade. As soon as Smith's press conference ended, nearly everyone in the room began asking each other the same question: "Have you heard about the trade?"
It remains to be seen whether and when Scott Rolen will actually become a Cardinal, but if he does, it will be interesting to see where the news plays on the sports pages in those two cities.
The other end of the spectrum
While Hall of Fame weekend celebrates the most elite from the game's highest level, the grass roots aren't ignored, either. On Saturday afternoon, the Oneonta Tigers and the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn league played at Doubleday Field. Oneonta, not surprisingly a Detroit affiliate, topped Auburn, affiliated with the Blue Jays, 7-2. Oneonta held Auburn hitless for eight innings.
A time to heal
It is quite literally difficult to walk down the streets of Cooperstown without bumping into someone decked out in a Cardinals shirt. In what has been an extremely trying season for the St. Louis baseball family, Smith said he hopes his induction can help fans continue to recover from the losses of Jack Buck and Darryl Kile.
"It is part of the healing process," Smith said. "In light of the passing of Mr. Buck and Darryl Kile, I'm sure Cardinals fans will use this as a time to celebrate a little bit, because we've had a lot of grief. So hopefully this brightens the day a little bit for some people. It still takes time, the healing process, it's very time-consuming and I think we still have a long way to go yet before all the healing is done."
Bits and pieces
A record 47 Hall of Famers returned to Cooperstown for the weekend's events. ... Smith said that among the people who have come for the weekend is former teammate Vince Coleman. ... Former Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca will sing the National Anthem at Sunday's induction ceremony.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.