07/28/2002 10:03 pm ET
White Sox, Rockies meet at HOF
Some players already have memorabilia in Hall
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies players might not be crazy about giving up an off day for Monday's Hall of Fame Game at Cooperstown, N.Y., but they're looking forward to viewing baseball's past.
"I don't know much about the game," White Sox infielder Tony Graffanino said. "I know we're going. Hopefully, it will be cool to get a chance to go to the Hall of Fame, see some things and meet some people."
But a few of the players who will be in Cooperstown are, in a sense, already there.
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who could have a bronze bust there some day if he repeats his past three years for the next 15 or so, has a bat there from his 2000 season. That was when he made a stab at history by threatening to become the first player since Ted Williams in 1941 to bat .400 over a season. Helton finished at .372.
But a couple of players who will be in uniform made it with far less effort than Helton.
Rockies rookie pitcher Jason Jennings has a cap and a bat in the Hall for becoming the first player in history to pitch a complete-game shutout and knock a homer in his Major League debut. Jennings did it last Aug. 23 against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
White Sox pitcher Kelly Wunsch didn't even have to make it to the big time to have the Hall calling for his gear.
At Class-A Beloit (Wisc.) of the Midwest League in 1994, Wunsch became the first professional pitcher to strike out five in one inning, with two of those reaching base when the ball eluded the catcher. A cap, a picture, a signed ball and a couple of tickets to the game commemorate the occasion.
Jennings' feat would likely go into the Rockies' display, since there is a display for every team. But Jennings, who knows he's in for some good-natured ribbing from teammates, secretly hopes the curators haven't gotten around to his materials.
"I've heard that quite a few of the artifacts and stuff they have aren't even on display," Jennings said. "It'll be fun to look around at all the famous stuff -- famous games, home runs, whatever. I've heard it's outstanding to walk through.
"But whatever they have of mine from the debut, hopefully I can track it down somewhere."
Wunsch knows exactly where his feats are recorded -- "Third floor of the Minor League section," he noted. He went to Cooperstown to see it in 1996, and will see it again.
"I could spend an off day watching TV (but) that could be something neat -- I get to look at my exhibit," he said. "I'm going to go. If somebody wants to come with me, they can."
Helton, who will miss the game to give his aching back some rest, will make the trip and be part of a press conference with White Sox stars. But he's not that interested in anything he sent.
"It's neat that something of mine is there, but I want to see Babe Ruth's stuff and Ted Williams's stuff," Helton said.
Thomas Harding covers the Rockies for MLB.com. Jimmy Greenfield, who covers the White Sox for MLB.com, contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.