From a broadcaster’s perspective, the Cooperstown Classic gets a big thumb’s up (and that’s not a reference to Hyder’s freakishly large thumbs).
Sure, the bandbox dimensions of Doubleday Field make it look like Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, PA where they hold the Little League World Series, and the infield grass was so thick yesterday it looked like it hadn’t been mowed since Abner and the boys supposedly played near that spot in 1839.
But I had a blast, and I hope the PawSox fans who made the trip felt the same way.
The highlight was a morning visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and I was happy to see that a number of Pawtucket players and staff members took advantage of the opportunity. An early bus left the team hotel at 8:30 am to give the guys who wanted to go a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Hall of Fame. Rocky Cherry, Chris George, Sean Danielson, Javier Lopez, Billy Traber, Jeff Natale, Charlie Zink, Michael Bowden, Enrique Gonzalez, Carlos Maldonado, hitting coach Russ Morman, trainer Greg Barajas, and strength coach Mike Jones were the guys I ran into, and others may have caught the early bus as well.
With Jim Rice getting inducted next month, it’s a great time to visit Cooperstown if you’re a Red Sox fan. There’s a big exhibit paying tribute to Rice that includes an old program from the 1974 “Pawtucket-Rhode Island Red Sox” that commemorates Rice’s Triple Crown season in the International League when he was only 21 years old.
There are also several photographs and artifacts involving players who have been members of the Pawtucket Red Sox this year! There’s a wall devoted to no-hitters and perfect games in major league history that includes a baseball and picture of the pitcher who threw it from every no-no since 1940. Clay Buchholz is obviously on that wall – right next to Jon Lester. Just think, a pitcher who is currently on display in Cooperstown will be on the mound tonight at McCoy Stadium. I also saw a Buchholz autographed ball at a souvenir shop that was going for $70.00.
There’s also a photo of a very young John Smoltz in a section that pays tribute to the Atlanta Braves dominance in the 1990’s. I happened to see it at the same time as Rocky Cherry and we both got of kick out of Smoltzie’s youthful appearance. John will likely have a plaque in Cooperstown some day.
There’s a ball signed by Kevin Youkilis (who played in 2 games with Pawtucket this year) from the game in which he broke the all-time record for consecutive errorless games at first base.
Of course, there’s all sorts of stuff from former PawSox including:
The bat that Dustin Pedroia used to hit a HR in his first World Series at-bat in 2007.
Jon Lester’s spikes from his no-hitter last year.
Jonathan Papelbon’s glove that he wore while saving 3 games in the ’07 World Series.
For several minutes, I walked through the Hall of Fame next to a father-and-son and listened to the dad answer his son’s questions about the legends of the game. My new goal in life is to have that experience with my 3-year-old son Sam when he’s old enough to be excited about it. Hearing that kid yesterday say things like, “Dad, it’s Lou Gehrig’s locker!. . .or Willie Mays uniform!” gave me goosebumps. I can only imagine what that will be like with my own son.
Yesterday on the broadcast, I mentioned that I got a kick out of seeing the Florida Marlins 2003 World Series ring that is so big it looks more like the belt buckle on a heavyweight boxing championship belt.
Leave it to my friend Kelly O’Connor (the official photographer of “Heard it from Hoard”) to have a picture of what that ring looked like on Josh Beckett’s finger.
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Tonight the PawSox open a 4-game homestand against the Charlotte Knights and will have Clay Buchholz on the mound. I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.