Results tagged ‘ Jim Rice ’

Cooperstown: Sunday – And More On Rose

The Hall of Fame induction speeches are always heartfelt and always noteworthy, but rarely do they have such emotional impact as this year’s.

Frankly, Rickey Henderson gave as good a speech as anybody could’ve imagined. It was respectful, it was self-deprecating, it was eloquent, it was moving. The only self-references were to say “I thank” – and he seemingly thanked everybody. And between his childhood memories of being bribed to play the game with donuts and quarters, to adolescent stories of asking Reggie Jackson for an autograph but getting only a pen, Henderson’s good-heartedness and generosity did more to enhance his reputation than anything else he could have done in fifteen minutes. I also think that Rickey finally admitted he had retired – the first-ever combination HOF acceptance/retirement speech.
Jim Rice was equally genuine and sincere, and instead of making even the slightest reference to the indefensible delay in his election, he poured oil on the troubled waters by saying it made no difference to him. My friend Tony Kubek did what he had always done so well: give us insights about others in the game. He began with a reference to his first Yankee roommate, and the man seated beside me, that roommate, Moose Skowron, tried to hide. Tony later inspired the longest sustained applause of the afternoon by thanking Henry Aaron for being such a hero and role model, inside and outside the game.
But the day was headlined by the daughter of the great Yankee and Indian second baseman Joe Gordon. Noting that her father, who had died in 1978, had ordered that there be no funeral nor ceremony, Judy Gordon said that her family would now consider Cooperstown his final resting place. If there was a fan who did not tear up, or feel a lump in the throat, he or she was not evident from where I was sitting.
Coming up tomorrow, a little more on the Pete Rose/Sparky Anderson ice-breaking I reported here Saturday night – the story is not only correct, but it’s only the beginning of what Rose considered a very rewarding weekend. First, some ground-level photos from Cooperstown 2009.
The mass of humanity assembles. It’s still more than an hour until the ceremony and thousands are already present:
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A little Yankee-Red Sox interplay. Brian Cashman at the left; Sox co-owner John Henry in the nifty hat, on the right:
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A colleague of mine – part of the contingent sharing the big day of his old partner Tony Kubek – interviewed, beforehand. Afterwards Bob and more than a dozen NBC Sports production figures of the ’70s and ’80s gathered for a lengthy reception in Tony’s honor:
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Mr. Kubek himself – getting a brief pre-ceremony pep talk from son Jim:
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And one more – that rare, almost transcendent appearance of Sandy Koufax, in the moments after the speeches ended. He is talking to Dave Stewart, once an Albuquerque Duke while Koufax was the team’s pitching coach. Eddie Murray at the right:
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Cooperstown: Sparky Anderson And Pete Rose Speak

In what both men indicated was their first conversation in roughly two decades, Sparky Anderson, manager of the Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” of the 1970′s, and Pete Rose, his most public and most star-crossed player, visited together briefly in Cooperstown on the eve of baseball’s Annual Hall of Fame Inductions.

Surprised customers lining up for another Rose autographing session in one of the village’s many memorabilia shops saw Anderson, his slow purposeful gait forever familiar to veteran fans, amble into the store to re-build something of the bridge Anderson felt Rose had burned during the events that led to his banishment for gambling by the late Commissioner Bart Giamatti in August, 1989.
“You made some mistakes 20 years ago, Pete,” on-lookers heard Anderson say. “But that shouldn’t detract from your contributions to the game.” As shopowners tried to hurriedly shoo the customers out, Anderson was seen to tear up as he explained his wife had been urging him to “go talk to Pete” and he finally felt this was the time. Rose also seemed moist-eyed as he quietly thanked his former manager.
Although time has blunted its impact, Anderson took one of the most principled stances in baseball’s long history when, after the 1994 strike, he said he would not manage a 1995 Detroit Tigers team made up of replacement players. He was initially granted a leave of absence, then returned after the owners lost their court bid to impose new work rules on the players and dismissed the replacements. But after the ’95 season, Anderson resigned, never to again manage in the big leagues. There seems little to indicate Anderson was forgiving Rose his transgressions against the game, but those who saw it said it was no challenge to discern that the moment of contact was deeply moving to both men.
The events unfolded even as baseball celebrated the official Hall of Fame dinner honoring Sunday’s inductees, and the subsequent “dessert reception” inside the Hall itself, complete with red-carpet introductions and a public address system straight out of a Hollywood premiere from the 1930′s.
One image from the off-the-record proceedings merits inclusion, and stays within the rules (it was fully covered by the Hall’s official on-the-record photographer): That is indeed Rickey Henderson posing not by his plaque, but by where, within hours, his plaque will be, next to Jim Rice and Joe Gordon, in the class of 2009:
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The Cooperstown Flood

Greetings from Cooperstown, New York, where baseball did not begin, but where it could conceivably end Sunday at what could easily wind up being the first-ever underwater Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.

At least seven separate cloudbursts drenched this quaint village and the surrounding “Leatherstocking” district of the James Fenimore Cooper works, and the only hope is that the forecast for Sunday (rain, possibly thunderstorms) will be as inaccurate as today’s was.
Here is Main Street, Cooperstown, at about 6:00 PM, during what all official and unofficial weather outlets insisted was “72 and Mostly Sunny”:
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This was at about the point where this, the sixth rain, started to hit hard enough to blow the dirt out of the planters next to the shops.
Thus were the hottest commodities in this stretch of American commercialism that rivals any four blocks in the nation, not Jim Rice jerseys nor Rickey Henderson t-shirts nor even Pete Rose autographs (he’s here again), but, simply, umbrellas. One woman was overheard delighting in the red bumbershoot, matching her favorite team’s colors. “Now all I have to do is draw an ‘F’ on it for ‘Phillies.’” She paused. “No, a ‘P.’”
Here is the Hall of Fame itself, the last time I got close enough to confirm it was still there.
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And overheard moments later, from one of the people in the foreground, the early frontrunner for quote of the weekend: “Where’s the Chinese food again?”
That, of course, is until Sunday’s speeches, whether they are conducted outdoors, indoors, or on an evacuation raft. Rickey Henderson will necessarily be fabulous; the long-suffering Jim Rice has been underrated both for his speaking and the depth of his thought; and, it will be fascinating to hear Joe Gordon’s daughter – who claims her father never spoke of the game at home – accept on behalf of a second baseman whose career parallels that of Ryne Sandberg (except for Gordon’s five World Series rings). But the sleeper bet for best speech is from Tony Kubek, the Ford C. Frick Broadcasting winner, whose prowess as a Yankees shortstop (they did not truly replace him until the ascent of Jeter) and fearlessness and insight as an NBC, Toronto Blue Jays, and Yankees announcer, were never fully appreciated until he suddenly left the game in protest of the materialism that seemed to have reached a tragic peak around the time of the 1994 strike, and the owners’ cancellation of The World Series.
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