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.
PARADE OF LEGENDS – 6 p.m. The stars of Baseball parade through Cooperstown beginning at the intersection of Lake & Chestnut St. and proceeding down Chestnut St. and onto Main St. before concluding at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown. Visit baseballhall.org/events/hof-weekend-2022?date=0
One of the many delights in getting older is you realize some things aren’t going to be resolved in your lifetime. If you’re 65-and-holding, you
American paranoia and its companion, the National Security State, won’t be dissipated tomorrow, if it can ever. And, year to year, we witness the ever-fuller flowering of these truly abhorrent aspects of modern American life during the Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend.
In addition to all the other indignities of recent Induction Weekends – metal barricades, legions of police officers and military personnel, armored cars, frowning men in camo watching us from the rooftops – add two more for 2018.
One is drones that buzzed Cooperstown skies
this weekend, even as signs went up: “Drone Use Regulations In Effect” (for the rest of us). The other was no-parking signs that went up within block after block of Cooperstown’s barricaded-off downtown.
Who is buzzing us and what are they looking for? That information isn’t readily available. (Not the Russians, we hope.)
The vastly expanded no-parking zones, Cooperstown Mayor
Ellen Tillapaugh explained, are in the event of an incident at Induction venues – an exploding knapsack, ala Boston Marathon, perhaps: Visitors can be more quickly “evacuated” – yikes.
“These acts of mass murder,” President George W. Bush told us a few hours after the Twin Towers were felled on 9/11, “were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.
“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation,” he continued. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
Of course, that was nonsense. Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta and his Gang of 18 won 9/11. As a people, we’ve been running scared every since, as evidenced yet again this past weekend as America’s Pastime was celebrated under Big Brother’s watchful eye.
(FYI, homeland security spending rose to $635.9 billion in the decade following 9/11, from $69.1 billion, according to the National Priorities Project.)
Ironically, how many visitors remarked to you how lovely Cooperstown reminds them of the good old days, of unlocked doors, kids on bikes, well-tended houses (where, presumably, mom and dad live with a couple of kids), for the time being, tree-lined streets? (What’s that buzzing?)
Still, you can understand the anxiety of the powers-that-be. If everything that might be done isn’t done and something happens, imagine the recriminations – in this space, no doubt, and far beyond. Heads would roll, careers would be lost. There’s a self-propelling momentum from – is it too much to say? – freedom to chains, at least e-chains.
How, as a nation, do we ramp it back? How, as a community, might we be a model? Maybe a place to start would be a community de-briefing in the next few weeks. Or is this none of our business? And more community input next spring as security is planned for Induction 2019.
To ask the question – how do we ramp it back? – is easy. Perhaps the answer will only be found in the march of history-to-come.
The Romans no doubt felt similar paranoia, with a resulting National Security State, archaic by comparison. It was solved when the Visigoths took over. Problem solved – at least that problem. Will paranoia be part of American life until American life is no more?
Meanwhile, what next? Returnees from the U.S. Open golf championship on Long Island on Father’s Day Weekend provide an inkling. All parking, all of it, was at Gabreski Airport, 10 miles from Shinnecock Hills Country Club.
To get to the open, you had to park your car or SUV there, along with 10,000 other vehicles. All attendees went through security screening, including metal detectors, then were put on buses that took them to the golf course and brought them back at day’s end.
Certainly, that model must be under consideration for the prospective Derek Jeter induction in 2020. If so, you read it here first, folks. The difference: Shinnecock is a golf course; Cooperstown – for the time being, anyhow – is a living, breathing community.
Weekend A Hit
While ever-tightening security is hard to ignore, Induction Weekend 2018 was also a lot of fun, and plenty of inspiration.
Six inductees – the most since 1971 – promised a lengthy ceremony, but it went by quickly, with Chipper Jones and Jack Morris’ humor, Trevor Hoffman’s food for thought and Jim Thome’s message: Success takes hard work, and he gave details. (Also, his daughter Lila’s rendering of the National Anthem was on it.)
Bob Costas winning the Ford C. Frick Award added a sheen of show biz, the Parade of Legends was bigger and better than ever, and the visitors were happy.
Given the crowd was the second-largest – 52,000 to Ripken-Gwynn’s 83,000 in 2007 – things generally went smoothly, even the traffic.
“Mi Tierra! Mi Tierra!” – Raymon Garcia leads the cheers for a group of friends from the Dominican Republican, here to cheer Vladimir Guerrero and other members of the Class of 2018 in the Parade of Legends, which ended a few minutes ago in downtown Cooperstown. It was too much excitement for Nolan Peet, a baseball fan for 6 months, who attended the parade with dad Steve and mom Marybeth. The Lewes, Del., family has a family home in the Cooperstown area; this is the Philly fans’ 17th consecutive Hall of Fame Weekend. The next big event is Induction at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. (Jim Kevlin, George Thabault/AllOTSEGO.com photos)
PARADE – 6 p.m. Following awards presentation, Hall of Famers ride trucks down Main Street to special reception at Baseball Hall of Fame. Staging on Doubleday Field, Cooperstown. 607-547-7200 or visit baseballhall.org
As of noon today, some fans were thinking ahead to 6 p.m. Saturday and Induction Weekend’s Parade of Legends: They had already set up their chairs across from the Hall of Fame entrance on the post office’s sidewalk to get the best view of the game’s best players entering a VIP reception at 25 Main St. From left are Stephen Burnett, Brooklyn, Angels fan; Claudia and Glenn Kay, Hauppauge, L.I., Mets fans; Dave Fylipek, Town of Queensbury, Yankee fan; and John Hower, Berwick Pa., Orioles fan. In the second row are Sharon Manning, Severna Park, Md. Orioles, and Bill Pulver, Schenectady. Some of the fans plan to sit there through the night, reserving their front row seats. Inset is Denny McLain, the beloved Detroit Tiger from the 1960s; also signing this afternoon were Goose Gossage, Juan Marichal, Rollie Fingers and other standouts. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Art Boden and son Dan were renting parking spaces this morning at The Bank of Cooperstown, which provided the space to raise funds for Friends Helping Friends, an group that grew out of a community effort to raise funds for Art at the height of his fight against cancer two years ago. Art expected to rent out 30 spaces at $20 apiece each of Induction Weekend’s two days, netting more than $1,000 for the community group. At left, by 10 a.m. today, folding chairs lined the Main Street route of the Parade of Legends, which steps off at 6 p.m. this evening between the Chestnut Street fire hall at the Hall of Fame. The 60-some Hall of Famers, including the five soon-to-be Hall of Famers, will be carried along the route in Ford pickups provided by Smith Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
AWARDS PRESENTATION – 4:30 p.m. Features the presentation of the Ford C. Frick award for baseball broadcasting excellence and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Gates open 3 p.m. Followed immediately by the Parade of Legends Doubleday Field, Cooperstown. baseballhall.org/events/Awards-Presentation-2017?date=0