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News of Otsego County

big papi

Hall of Fame Festivities Bridge Past, Present with Joyous Weekend

Hall of Fame Festivities
Bridge Past, Present
with Joyous Weekend

By Ted Potrikus

This joyful bunch brought their patriotic pride all the way to Cooperstown from the Dominican Republic to cheer on their fellow countryman, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, on the weekend he and six others were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Our new Dominican friends grabbed prime real estate at the corner of Main and Chestnut streets on Saturday, July 23, when the Village of Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame hosted an hour-long parade featuring some four-dozen Hall of Famers — and when Big Papi came into their view, their cheers could be heard from blocks away.

Special to The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta
[A byline note: With this as my final piece for publication in The Freeman’s Journal /Hometown Oneonta, I hope readers will indulge a first-person tour through this past weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. I hadn’t attended an induction since 1983 when I covered the event for The Freeman’s Journal. So much has changed since then but one thing has remained constant — the unifying power of baseball. Here’s my take.]

It’s not every day that Cooperstown finds itself festooned with flags from the Dominican Republic, but on the weekend when the National Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed the island nation’s own David “Big Papi” Ortiz into its exclusive ranks, there was no mistaking the party atmosphere pervading the village.

“We’re all ‘Big Papi’ this weekend, my friend!” one gentleman told me when I asked his name. That’s all I needed to know.

He and his family and friends — some dressed in Boston Red Sox garb like thousands of others lining Main, Chestnut, and Lake streets for the July 23 parade featuring some four dozen Hall of Famers — traveled to Cooperstown from the Dominican Republic to cheer on their hero. They staked their position on the corner of Main and Chestnut; the moment Mr. Ortiz’s ride — the last in the hour-long parade — came into view — their jubilant cheers said it all about the weekend.

And what a weekend it was. Dominican pride was well on display the next afternoon, July 24, when more than 30,000 fans poured onto the Clark Sports Center field to watch as Mr. Ortiz — along with Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Minnie Miñoso, and Buck O’Neil joined the 333 baseball immortals already enshrined. Fans had begun setting their tents, chairs, and blankets to reserve their spaces as early as the prior Thursday; as the 1:30 p.m.

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