Updating for 2017 – Hall of Famers in Topps sets

20 01 2017

Last year, I said “I wish Tim Raines or Jeff Bagwell had made it as well”.  They got their honor this year, though now I’m saying “I wish Hoffman and Vlad had made it”.  I think it’s a Rule of 10 issue – if Raines or Bagwell had made it last year, Hoffman would have made it this year.  And that would free up somebody who’s gonna miss by 5% or less next year.

But that’s not for this post.  This post is about baseball cards and updating stuff.  Last year I attended the HOF induction.  Unless something changes, I’m not attending this year (we are slated to go to Cooperstown in May).

The number of Hall of Famers in a given set has always been something that intrigued me.  I count the number of Hall of Famers for every new set I start, and post about it in my overview.  So, since there are now 3 new Hall of Famers to account for, I need to go back and update those posts.  This is a great group, too.  The only upside of it taking 10 years for Tim Raines?  Changes documented in this post span every year I’ve covered on this blog but 1 (1980).

In showing this stuff below, I will show the cumulative total as well.

 

First, the ground rules.  I include all Hall of Famers from the set.  That includes someone like Johnny Bench who had a Turn Back the Clock card in the 1990 set.  I also include managers who were Hall of Fame players (Frank Robinson in 1984 Topps, or my personal favorite – Yogi Berra as an Astro coach on their 1987 Topps team leader card).  I also include player cards of guys who made the Hall of Fame as a manager (i.e., 1969 Topps Bobby Cox).  If you have a bronze plaque in Cooperstown, I’m including you.

1980 Topps – 41 Hall of Famers

Johnny Bench, Bert Blyleven, George Brett, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Carlton Fisk, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Willie McCovey, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Gaylord Perry, Jim Rice, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Willie Stargell, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount, Earl Weaver (manager), Tommy LaSorda (manager), Dick Williams (manager), Sparky Anderson (manager), Lou Brock (HL)

tim-raines-expos

 

1981 Topps – 41 Hall of Famers

Gone (-2):  McCovey and Brock were gone after retiring

New (+2):  Whitey Herzog got a manager card when he was hired by St. Louis.  And Rock Raines got a card in the 1981 set as part of the Expos Future Stars triple player card.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

Raines RC

1982 Topps – 34 Hall of Famers

Gone (-8):  There was no manager subset in 1982, which accounts for the big drop – Weaver, LaSorda, Williams, Herzog, Anderson, Torre, Cox and LaRussa aren’t in this set.

New (+1):  Cal Ripken Jr. had the first new guy in this set.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1983 Topps – 45 Hall of Famers

This is the peak of HOF-ers in my Lifetime Topps project.

Gone (-1):  Willie Stargell retired and had his last card in 1982 (-1).

New (+12):  The manager subset came back, which led to 9 new cards of Hall of Famers – Weaver, LaSorda, Williams, Sparky, Herzog, Cox, Torre, LaRussa and Frank Robinson.  Additionally, Wade Boggs, Ryne Sandberg and Tony Gwynn entered the fray.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.  This is still the set with the most HOF-ers in my Lifetime Topps Project.

 

1984 Topps – 44 Hall of Famers

Gone (-1):  Earl Weaver had retired after the 1982 season, with no new Hall of Fame blood in this set.

Bench, Perry and Yastrzemski were only included in a subset card.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1985 Topps – 40 Hall of Famers

Gone (-6):  Robinson was gone after his stint as the Giants manager was over, while Bench, Yaz, Perry, Palmer and Jenkins had also had their last player cards.

New (+2):  Kirby Puckett’s rookie card is in this set, and Yogi Berra had a card for his second (and controversial) stint as Yankee manager (+2).  When I started this blog, Puckett was the most recent rookie card of any Hall of Famer!  That claim now belongs to Piazza.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1986 Topps – 40 Hall of Famers

Gone (-3):  Torre was fired as Braves manager in 1984 and wasn’t gone until this set.  Berra was fired as well, and Joe Morgan retired.

New (+3):  Earl Weaver was back as the O’s manager, and we had a Turn Back the Clock subset that got Willie Mays and Frank Robinson into the mix.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1987 Topps – 38 Hall of Famers

Gone (-6):  Cox was no longer the Blue Jay skipper at this point, and Carew, Fingers and Tony Perez all retired. Robinson and Mays were gone from the TBC subset….

New (+4):  But Clemente and Yastrzemski replaced them.  Barry Larkin had his first card in this set, and Yogi Berra had the awesome TL card I mentioned earlier as coach of the Astros!

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1988 Topps – 36 Hall of Famers

Gone (-7):  Mr. October, Lefty and Tom Terrific and Earl Weaver all retired at this point.  Clemente, Yaz and Berra were gone from subsets .  

New (+5):  Maddux and Glavine had their first base Topps cards, and the subsets were a wash due to 3 new Cardinals – Bob Gibson and Stan Musial from the TBC subset, and Red Schoendienst being featured on the Cards Team Leader card.  

Phil Niekro made it only on the Record Breaker subset with his brother in this set.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1989 Topps – 37 Hall of Famers

Gone (-6):  Sutton, Niekro (RB), Williams (mgr), Schoendienst (TL), Musial (TBC), Gibson (TBC)

New (+7):  Roberto Alomar RC, Randy Johnson RC, Craig Biggio RC, John Smoltz RC, Hank Aaron (TBC), Brock (TBC), Frank Robinson (back as a manager)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1990 Topps – 37 Hall of Famers

Gone (-2):  2 relievers exited the set – Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage (who would be back)

New (+2)  Frank Thomas had his RC in the set, and Griffey Junior had his first regular Topps card.  The effect of the TBC subset was a wash, it went up to 3 HOFers from the previous year, but one of them was Mike Schmidt who didn’t actually have a base card after retiring mid-1989.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.

 

1991 Topps – 34 Hall of Famers

Gone (-5):  Rice (retired), Herzog (retired), Schmidt, Bench, Koufax (the TBC set had ended its 5-year run)

New (+2):  Torre and Cox, both of whom got back in the managing saddle

  • The 2017 induction of Raines increased this number by 1.
2 cards I posted back in the day!

2 cards I posted back in the day!

1992 Topps – 36 Hall of Famers

Gone (-1):  Robinson (fired as Oriole manager)

New (+3):  Gossage (back after a stint in Japan).  Pudge and Bagwell are in this set – true rookies were in the Traded set from 1991, but for both these guys this is their first base Topps card.

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

 

1993 Topps – 38 Hall of Famers

Gone (-1):  Gossage (retired for good this time)

New (+3):  Tony Perez (Reds manager), Pedro Martinez (first Topps card), Mike Piazza (on a Prospects card)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

 

1994 Topps – 30 Hall of Famers (a mass exodus!)

Gone (-9):  Topps did away with manager cards in 1994, which meant no cards for Torre, LaRussa, Cox, Sparky, Perez and LaSorda.  Additionally, Blyleven, Carter and Fisk all retired.

New (+1):  Hank Aaron (tribute)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

 

1995 Topps – 25 Hall of Famers (further depleted!)

Gone (-6):  Brett, Ryan and Yount (all retired for good).  Sandberg (retired temporarily).  Dawson (left out of the set, though he is in ’95 Traded).  Aaron (tribute)

New (+1):  Babe Ruth (tribute)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

pudge

1996 Topps – 26 Hall of Famers (an actual increase!)

Gone (-2):  Winfield (retired), Ruth (tribute)

New (+3):  Mickey Mantle (tribute), Dawson (back after ’95 snub), Sandberg (back in baseball after a year-plus hiatus)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

 

1997 Topps – 23 Hall of Famers

Gone (-4):  Dawson, Puckett, Smith (retired), Mantle (tribute).  Puckett was the first HOF player to start in my

New (+1):  Jackie Robinson (tribute)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

 

1998 Topps – 19 Hall of Famers

Gone (-5):  Murray, Sandberg (retired), Robinson (tribute), Henderson (snubbed – he even has an insert card in the product), Raines (also snubbed).

New (+1):  Roberto Clemente (tribute)

  • The 2017 induction of Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 2.  Raines did not get a card in 1998 or 1999 Topps 😦

 

1999 Topps – 18 Hall of Famers

Gone (-3):  Molitor, Eckersley (retired), Clemente (tribute)

New (+2):  Nolan Ryan (tribute), Henderson (back after snub)

  • The 2017 induction of Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 2.  Raines did not get a card in 1998 or 1999 Topps.

 

2000 Topps – 19 Hall of Famers

Gone (-1):  Nolan Ryan (tribute)

New (+2):  Hank Aaron (tribute), Tim Raines (back with a regular card!)

  • The 2017 induction of Raines, Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 3!

 

2001 Topps – 27 Hall of Famers

Gone (-2):  Wade Boggs (retired), Tim Raines (temporarily retired – but this was his last base Topps card)

New (+10):  The manager subset was back, which meant new cards for Torre, Cox and LaRussa.  There was also a Golden Moments subset, which had new cards of Bill Mazeroski, Reggie Jackson, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Nolan Ryan, Lou Brock and Carlton Fisk.

Hank Aaron’s Tribute card was gone in 2001, but he was still in the Golden Moments subset.

  • The 2017 induction of Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 2.  Raines did not get a card after 2000.

 

2002 Topps – 19 Hall of Famers

Gone (-9):  Cal Ripken retired, and the Golden Moments subset was gone, which meant those cards of Mazeroski, Jackson, Robinson, Clemente, Ryan, Brock, Fisk and Aaron were gone.

New (+1):  Tony Perez managed the Marlins at the end of 2002, and got a manager card in this set for it.

  • The 2017 induction of Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 2.

2003 Topps Traded Ortiz Pudge Carpenter

2003 Topps – 18 Hall of Famers

Gone (-2):  Tony Gwynn had retired in 2001, but still got a 2002 card.  He was gone from the set in 2003.  Perez was no longer a manager, so his card was gone as well.

New (+1):  Frank Robinson became the Expos manager in 2002, and got a card in this set.

  • The 2017 induction of Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 2.

2004 Topps Bagwell Biggio Berkman

2004 Topps – 18 Hall of Famers

Gone (-1):  Rickey Henderson retired.

New (+1):  Mike Schmidt was included in a subset card along with Jim Thome.

  • The 2017 induction of Bagwell and Pudge increased this number by 2.




My fictitious Hall of Fame Ballot – 2017

18 01 2017

The Hall of Fame vote comes out tonight.  If you’re anything like me, you gobble this kind of thing up.  I follow the Hall of Fame tracker by @NotMrTibbs that has received a bunch of attention.  I try to read a couple of books a year about HOF inductees.  I went to Griffey’s induction last year!

Griffey HOF backward hat

This year’s ballot is again facing a logjam.  The average ballot last year contained just under 8 players per submission.  This year it will almost certainly end up above 8, even with a blank ballot or 2.  Griffey and Piazza are off the ballot after being inducted last year.  Alan Trammel and Mark McGwire are off after reaching their respective year limit.  That’s about 300% of votes received, which did free some votes up.

But Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez are 2 newcomers who have a real shot at getting the 75% required vote.  And Manny Ramirez is tracking toward a decent percentage (20-25%).  Add the increases of all other holdovers from last year – and the logjam is actually bigger.  Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines look like locks to get in.  Voters seem more inclined to check the box for Clemens and Bonds, and a Trevor Hoffman will be very close as well.

I’m guessing only Bagwell and Raines get in, with Vlad, Pudge and Hoffman barely short.  I hope I’m wrong – it would be nice if one of the other 3 get in.  But if it’s just 2 – the logjam will be even worse next year with only elected and Lee Smith coming off!  I do think it will peak there (or this year if more than 2 get elected).

The 10-player ballot maximum is an unnecessary constraint (problem).  It splits the vote.  As you can see below, there are over 15 players I’d vote for, but if I was a voter, I’d have to pick 10.  I’ve read at least one writer each who put Hoffman or Vlad 11th.  If those guys are one vote short, that just makes the problem worse next year.

Below is my “if I had a vote” message.  Before I get into specific players, I want to say what I’d do about the steroid guys.  I’d generally vote for guys with a clear link to PEDs (note that Piazza and Bagwell do not even have such a link – just speculation with little to no basis).  My reasons?  First, I think PEDs were a baseball issue, not a Mark McGwire or a Barry Bonds issue.  Second, it’s a gray area, not the black and white line that many make it out to be.  I firmly believe at some point in the future, maybe 25 years or 40 years, we’re going to realize that some of those substances are safe to use and that it was silly that it got the debate it did. Finally, there is probably a PED user already in the Hall of Fame, and there are definitely guys in who have openly admitted to using amphetamines.

Steroids was part of the game just like other forms of gamesmanship have been part of the game in different eras.  I say vote the cheaters in, like we’ve done for its entire history (see Gaylord Perry).  I’d rather do that than act like the Hall of Fame is something more than it is.  It’s a shrine for the greatest players, managers and executives of the game, next to a museum that keeps the history of baseball.  No more, no less.

So if someone is linked to PEDs, at least for the time being, I will vote them in – but behind clean guys who I think clearly deserve to be in.  The guys that are, to me, unquestionable on performance and have no tie to PEDs.  The only reason for this is the ballot limit of 10.  I’d vote for Mark McGwire absent any constraints, but if I have to pick between him and Jeff Bagwell, I’d choose Bagwell.  Bagwell deserves to be in CLEARLY, so I slot him ahead of the other guys.  This matters when you’re limited to 10 votes.

I’ve repeated the above 3 paragraphs for at least 3 years now, however I have one addition.  I’m not going to vote for Manny Ramirez.  Despite the fact he’s the probably best historical player on here not named Bonds or Clemens.  But he cheated when it really was cheating, and that’s just where the line gets drawn for me right now.

So here’s my fake ballot.  This is in the order of how I’d vote them in, meaning I’d put Ken Griffey Jr. first if I was only allowed to pick 1 player.

  • Tim Raines (69.8%)
  • Jeff Bagwell (71.6%)
  • Ivan Rodriguez (1st)
  • Vladimir Guerrero (1st)
  • Curt Schilling (52.3%)
  • Mike Mussina (43.0%)
  • Edgar Martinez (27.0%)
  • Barry Bonds (44.3%)
  • Roger Clemens (45.2%)
  • Larry Walker (11.8%)

That’s the limit of 10.  My personal backlog was cut to less because I only added 2 guys – whereas Griffey, Piazza and Trammell were “above the line” for me last year.  Edgar Martinez, congratulations!  I actually moved him above Walker, Jeff Kent and the steroid guys after further review!  Reading a book about the ’95 Mariners really opened my eyes to how feared he was by other players.  He’s looking like he could get in, probably the year after next if I had to guess.

I would also vote the next 7 guys in, but they’d get eliminated by the 10 player rule.  Last year I actually had to choose between Bonds and Clemens.  This year, there are 9 “no-doubters” for me that I put ahead of Bonds & Clemens.  4 of them got elected.  I also decided this year to move Mussina above that list, and while I view Trammell as a clear-cut HOF-er, but he’s definitely the least clear-cut out of those guys.

The rest of these guys are players whom I would vote for.  They aren’t as clear-cut as the 7 guys ahead of Bonds above, but I would vote for them if there were no restrictions.  Note that I put Walker in the same category, but at the top of that “not clear-cut” list – so he makes the list of 10.  To be clear, I definitely do think these guys are Hall of Famers.

  • Jeff Kent (16.6%)
  • Fred McGriff (20.9%)
  • Trevor Hoffman (67.3%)
  • Billy Wagner (10.5%)
  • Gary Sheffield (11.6%)
  • Sammy Sosa (7.0%)

That’s a list of 16.  And I would have put a number of guys who are no longer BBWAA-eligible.  I wish the Hall of Fame could read articles about this and see how the limit of 10 really restricts things for their voters.  Actual BBWAA writers have written about similar dilemmas.  I’d also put Rafael Palmeiro, Kenny Lofton, Jim Edmonds, Trammell and McGwire in.  All have fallen off the ballot in previous years.

 





Monday at the Hall – Legends of the Game roundtable

2 08 2016

This will be my last post about my trip to the Hall of Fame.  I’ll just say it was a ton of fun – a good excursion for the wife and I to get away.  I got to do lots of baseball stuff, we both got to do lots of fun dinners, and some outdoors type things.

While the induction itself was really cool, and the reason you go, my favorite part of the baseball stuff was on Monday.  Sunday there were 50,000 people, and it’s a very formal event.  Two things about Sunday I didn’t post about earlier – I was on TV for the later interview with Griffey, Gammons, Harold Reynolds and Greg Amsinger – this was pretty cool.  My mom was watching my 2 kids, and my son apparently No, you don’t get to see a pic of me on this blog – but here’s Griffey with Gammons after that interview from my perspective!

Griffey Gammons

After that, we walked by this car on the way home.  I wish I had this kind of creativity and willingness!

img_1577

img_1578

On Monday, the HOF hosts an event called Legends of the Roundtable.  I went to this back in 2009 – that had to be one of the first times they did it – where the new Hall of Famers do an outdoor conversation with Gammons.  In 2009, it was at Clark Sports Center, where the induction is.  The players sat on a podium where they had been inducted.  I felt like it was much smaller then.  Now, it’s held at Doubleday Field which is a block away from the Hall.

They sell tickets to the whole 1st base side of bleachers, put a stand up, and the players and Gammons were wearing golf shirts as opposed to the suits from the day before.  It was an awesome event – probably my highlight of the trip!  Griffey and Piazza both answered legitimate questions and you got some stories that seemed “insider” for the weekend.  If you told me I could only go to this or the induction – I might lean toward this!

img_1623

We finished our days in Cooperstown with a trip to Howe Caverns – which was really cool and not far and on the way to Albany airport if anyone ever wants to go.





Hall of Fame recap – Awards ceremony & parade

1 08 2016

After doing the Hall of Fame in the morning, and getting some Hall of Famer autographs in the afternoon, we went to our first official HOF events of the weekend.  At 4:30 was the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation.  This consists of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award (writer) and the Ford C. Frick Award (broadcaster).

The Frick Award honored Graham McNamee, who was a true pioneer of baseball radio.  He’s one of the first broadcasters to cover the World Series – calling the Yankees first championship back in 1923.  He’s obviously passed away, but they had Dick Enberg (last year’s winner) give a brief note on him and did a video tribute.  My favorite story was how he got his gig.  A great singer, McNamee was on a break from jury duty and went to radio station WEAF to audition for a part.  He instead came away with a broadcasting job.

The Spink Award honored Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.  Dan is known for authoring a number of Boston sports books, most notably “The Curse of the Bambino”, and his long tenure with the Globe.  He has what I think people consider a prototypical Boston media attitude – he can be harsh but has a lot of wit.  He started his career in Baltimore but then came back to the Boston Globe where he grew up.  Dan gave a really nice speech.  He mixed some of that wit and none of that harshness, and wove in a bunch of players that were sitting behind him (the players all went from the autograph shows to this event).  My favorite was of him in his first year at Baltimore, sticking a microphone in front of the straw that stirs the drink.

1977 Dan Shaughnessy

After Shaughnessy, the Hall did a tribute where FDNY Batallion Chief Vin Mavaro told his story of sifting through the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks.  This was days later, and as he described it, their mission had changed from rescue to find/salvage.  Where almost everything had been crushed and pulverized, he found a baseball virtually intact.  It had the logo of a company called TradeWeb, and he was happy to learn that, unlike many others, the company had accounted for all of its employees in the building.  Baseball played its part in healing the nation in 2001, and this was a good story to recount.  The HOF did this to honor the 15th anniversary of the attacks, and it was appropriate that Piazza and Griffey – who had their own unique stories about helping out after 9/11/01 – were inducted.

FDNY baseball

After the ceremony was the Legends Parade – we got a good spot to watch at the corner of Main and Chestnut.  It was cool – every Hall of Famer comes out the west side of Doubleday Field after the ceremony on their own truck.  I took way too many pictures of this, but here’s 2 of the current inductees.

HOF parade Griffey

HOF parade Piazza

After that, we went to a new restaurant in Cooperstown – right on the corner we viewed.  It’s called Mel’s 22, and it’s got great food though could use a little help with the seating / management aspect.  They probably don’t have nearly as much of a crowd on any other weekend!  But it was good food and some good beer.  We hit that for dinner and then had a few too many on the pub crawl that followed.  After that, we woke up for the Sunday induction, which I’ve already posted.  My last Cooperstown post will (hopefully) be tomorrow or Wednesday – covering the Monday event.





Hall of Fame recap – Saturday autographs

31 07 2016

A couple of days ago I posted about the morning at the Baseball Hall of Fame.  That was the only time we actually went into the museum during the weekend.  As I mentioned – that went to lunch time when we went and grabbed lunch at Doubleday Cafe (my favorite restaurant in Cooperstown).

Doubleday Cafe

After that, I was going to get a few autographs.  I started off with Ken Griffey Sr.  It seemed like a good idea on the weekend his son goes in.  I had him sign a ball and put “1980 AS MVP”.  Senior was signing at the shop where Pete Rose always signs on this weekend, and all I can say is that it wasn’t a great experience.  Griffey, Tony Perez and Rose were all there.  Griffey basically refused to acknowledge people who paid to get his autograph.  Almost every guy who has signed gives you a smile or something – he just didn’t want to talk to anybody.  There was some kind of mixup where he maybe wasn’t supposed to do an inscription, but the ticket guy had said it was $10 extra (which is what I paid).  I wonder if he had some kind of agreement with Rose where he had to sign but didn’t want to.  Or had some issue with the promoter.  I would understand why he wouldn’t want to do an autograph thing that weekend – his son didn’t and I get spending that with family.  Anyways, like I said he was in some kind of a pissy mood and it wasn’t a good experience.  I wish I hadn’t paid for an autograph in that situation.  My wife was with me and she thought it was weird, so it wasn’t just me.

signing - Griffey Sr

The Hit King gave me a wink on the way out – I was decked up in Reds gear – so on some level Pete went up a notch in my book.  I don’t agree with a lot of what Pete has done, but I always he does realize the importance of fans.

The other 3 autographs I got were much better experiences.  I collect autographs of players who are members of the 500 home run, 3,000 hit, or 300 win clubs.  Someday I want to put them all in a table of something where I can display them.  I’ve still got a number of living players left, so I get them when I can – a few a year.  This is the event where I pick some up for 2016!  All the autographs were at the MAB Celebrity Services event at Tunnicliff Inn.

Tunnicliff Inn - the pit

First up was Dave Winfield.  I was telling a few buddies on a Whats app conversation I was going to get his autograph, and a few were adamant he’s the best athlete of all time.  I would go Bo Jackson, but I get the point – drafted in the 3 major North American sports, and making the HOF in one of them – certainly gets you there.  Winfield was very nice; I didn’t chat with him for very long, but I did mention the point my friends had and he chuckled.  He was friendly.

signing - Winfield

Next up was Steve Carlton.  He didn’t have too bad of a line, though I don’t think he does a lot of shows like this so I was glad to get his autograph.  Carlton was also very nice – I actually couldn’t remember his strikeout total and he kind of chuckled.  I’ve read he didn’t get along with the media, but he was friendly too.  I walked by Johnny Bench on the way out, and he gave me a “Go Reds”.

signing - Carlton

Last up for me was Rod Carew, whose line was very long.  He’s had some health issues, and is eventually going to need a heart transplant.  I was surprised he was signing, but I wished him luck with his health – he was very friendly as well though his line was so long I pretty much got my auto, shook his hand and left.

signing - Carew

So that was the autographs for the day.  One thing I’ll note – we got a great place for the weekend.  We rented a room that was part of a 3 bedroom house called the “1797 house”.  I thought originally that had something to do with the address, but my wife quickly pointed out it was built in 1797.  So it wasn’t what I’d call up-to-date amenities, but it worked.  It was a block from Main Street, on the same block that the Hall is on Main Street, so I could have hit the Tunnicliff Inn with a 7-iron and the Hall with a driver from my house.  Don’t worry, I left the golf clubs at home 🙂

This was helpful – I could take the balls I got autographed back to our room in between.  If my wife bought a shirt for the kids, she could do the same.  If we wanted to run out and grab waters or Gatorade – or Advil for the hangovers – it was easy.  This level of convenience was invaluable.





Hall of Fame recap – Saturday at the Hall

28 07 2016

So I finally got back home and now have the the time to do a little posting on my trip to Cooperstown.  For reference, here was the timeline my wife and I had:

  • Thursday – Flew in to Newark, hung around Hoboken and Manhattan
    • Fiore’s deli for “beef & mutz” for lunch – if anyone has had it, you know what I’m talking about
    • Pony Bar for a craft beer or two after walking around Times Square
    • Stayed with a friend in New Jersey
  • Friday – drive to Cooperstown
    • Ommegang Brewery
    • Kayaking in the afternoon
    • Check in to the house/apartment we rented
    • Dinner at Cooley’s Stone House Tavern
  • Saturday
    • Visit the Hall of Fame in the morning
    • Lunch at Doubleday cafe
    • Got a few autographs at the MAB Celebrity Services event at Tunnicliff Inn
    • Spink/Frick awards presentation
    • Hall of Fame Parade of Legends
    • Dinner at Mel’s 22
  • Sunday
    • Hall of Fame Induction
    • Cooperstown Brewing Co.
    • Dinner at Toscana Italian
  • Monday
    • Legends of the Game roundtable with the 2 new HOF-ers
    • Howe Caverns

After Monday, I dropped my wife off at Albany and went on a “beer pilgrimage” trip in Vermont and Western, MA.  Not really the scope of this blog, but I’ll just say it was a lot of fun, though I’m happy to be back and maybe get some rest from my vacation 🙂

Today is about the first part of Saturday, but before I get to that, I want to talk about Friday kayaking.  We went to a place on the Susquehanna River, about 10 minutes south of Ommegang, and you can kayak to Goodyear Lake.  It’s beautiful, as the pictures below show.

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Saturday is the biggest day for getting autographs, but most of that happens in the afternoon.  We woke up and got breakfast from the local pastry shop.  Cooperstown blocks off the main street for this weekend – which makes getting around much easier.  After gobbling up our donuts & croissants, we went to the Hall of Fame at about 9:30 – I think it had been open since 8 – and walked around where we could.

The first thing we did was go check out the special exhibit for each of the two new inductees.  To my approval – baseball cards are prominent in this display!  They had a blowup of 12 cards for each player.  I really like the inclusion of the 1994 Collector’s Choice painted checklists for both guys, but I think they really missed out not having the 89 UD Griffey.

Griffey cards in display

And partially missed out by not having the 1992 Bowman Piazza.

Piazza cards next to display

But that aside, just having baseball cards on here was really cool.  Piazza’s in-case display had some baseball cards as well.  They had 3 cards from 1998 where he was on the Dodgers, Marlins and Mets all within a week.

Piazza cards in display

They also had a ball from each of the no-hitters he caught.

Piazza no hit bottles

Here’s Griffey’s display:

Griffey display

The have a card in his – it’s from 1991 Score (lower left).  My favorite thing from his display was his MVP.

Griffey MVP

Here’s the spot waiting for their plaques.  It was too busy for me to stay around to see them after that.

Empty plaque

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the Hall, because I’ve been there twice before – and I’ve included pictures of it on this blog.  Most of the exhibits are the same (though the stuff they put in them rotates).

The one exhibit that was new this time around was called “Today’s Game”.  It focuses on the last 40 years and the changes in the game throughout the ’70s, ’80s, 90s and current century.  I’m really glad they did an exhibit like this.  If you’re in town visiting the Hall, you’re obviously a baseball fan.  And you probably either aren’t a fan from the 50’s and 60’s, or if you are old enough, you are also a fan of the game since then.  So it’s relatable to just about everybody.  There are interactive polls – do you think Pete Rose should be in the Hall? – and playable highlights.

HOF - replay highlights

This Tom Seaver painting by Andy Warhol is one of the first things you see in the exhibit.  Seaver was not at the Hall for this weekend.  Kind of sad if you ask me – Piazza was joining him as the 2nd Met to make it.  I’ve read that it just boils down to price for him.  I hope that’s not the case.

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There were a lot of baseball cards in these exhibits.  Here’s the 1974 Topps Senators/ Padres situation explained.

HOF - Padres Senators 1974 Topps

They had a baseball card display for the first all-black lineup in 1971.  The Hall used 1972 and 1971 cards to show this off.

HOF - first all-black starting lineup

They even had the book “House of Cards” about Upper Deck!  There’s the 1989 UD Griffey card!

HOF - house of cards

Finally, here was a cool piece of art – Phil Niekro’s uniform made out of cut-up baseball cards.

HOF - Niekro bb card jersey

A few other things I appreciated – they had a uniform and the DJ’s army hat from the failed Disco Demolition Day in Comiskey back in the 70’s.

HOF - Disco Demolition

And they had the display case for MLB ice cream cup hats that were handed out at Dairy Queen (and possibly) other places back when I was a kid.  My dad got a guy from DQ to give us the display and me and my brother would collect the hats.  I’ve got to say this was, for me personally, the coolest new thing I saw in the Hall just because it brought back good memories of my dad, my brother and me.

HOF - ice cream caps

That’s about it for the Hall.  After we finished there, we hit up Doubleday Cafe.  If there was one restaurant I’d recommend in Cooperstown – it’s that.  They have standard fare, but their food is top-notch and I love the environment.

Tomorrow or later tonight I’ll cover the rest of what we did Saturday.





2016 Induction – Griffey

25 07 2016

Griffey HOF backward hat

Griffey spoke 2nd on Sunday.  I’ll say this, he wasn’t as eloquent as Piazza.  But it was still very powerful.  You could tell he was getting choked up by the moment.  I think fans are happy to put players on a pedestal – but only if they acknowledge how special that pedestal is.  Piazza did it in one way, Griffey in another.  At first, he had trouble getting through his points because he was so visibly moved.  I watched on TV when he got inducted to the Mariners Hall of Fame, and it was different.  There, he was in control.  Thankful, but he commanded his speech.  It was different for this event – he was clearly nervous and the 50,000 or so fans there often cheered him on when he was lost for words.

This is all to say I took it as a good thing.  Here’s a guy – who never looked nervous in center field or at the plate – get choked up about the HOF induction.  I can appreciate that.

He did one subtle thing that, combined with the nerves he showed, was kind of cool.  Most inductees wait til the end to get to their family.  Mike Piazza did it 10 minutes before Griffey.  I was at Rickey Henderson’s speech in 2009, and he was bummed because he got to the end and forgot to mention his family.  Griffey went to his family – his dad, his mom, his 3 kids, his wife – first thing.  It was a subtle difference from the norm that was, at the same time, hard to miss.  The only time I felt he was comfortable in his speech was when he was talking about his kids.  He seemed to want to get through the rest – the part about him.  I hope that came through on TV.  I have 2 kids, and I can respect that.

But he finished his speech up by pulling a hat from under the podium and putting it on backward.  Very cool.  I’ve read a couple of quotes from him where he didn’t always like the name “the Kid” because he got to a point where he had children and they were the kids – he didn’t feel like a kid any more.  But I think him doing the backward hat thing is acknowledging that so many of his fans associate that with him.  It’s one of the things that made him so endearing – it symbolized his youthful exuberance, and I thought it was a really cool move.

Side note – Griffey did and interview afterward with MLB Network.  I can’t wait to get home to watch the DVR of it, mostly because I’m apparently visible in the background.  I’m the guy with the Reds hat on backward – (again, I haven’t seen it so, “apparently”) everyone else was Seattle or NYM.

One other thing to note.  After Griffey did the MLB Network interview, I noticed a family waiting for him.  It wasn’t his family – and I was trying to figure out how they got the behind the ropes tickets that I couldn’t get 🙂

But the girl of the family turned around and she had a Reds #3 Jersey.  It had Marino on the back, and I realized who they were.  There was a lot of discussion about Piazza’s home run to win the first post-9/11 game.  And rightfully so.  Griffey had a story from that tragedy, too.  The Marino kids lost their father in the September 11, 2001 attacks.  He was a first respond firefighter who lost his life in the rescue operations.  He was a big Griffey fan, and their story was well-documented if you want to look it up.  Those kids probably miss their dad more than I could imagine, and I hope that whatever small tribute he brings them helps them to get peace.