Taking in baseball’s immortals

Just returned from baseball heaven.

Didn’t matter if you wore Yankee pinstripes or felt for the ‘Big Hurt.’ Didn’t matter if you knew how to chant the tomahawk chop. But you better know the lyrics to John Fogerty’s ‘Centerfield.’

The village of Cooperstown, N.Y., and Baseball’s Hall of Fame 75th anniversary of the Induction Ceremony took this writer and his wife, Ruth, captive for three days. Ruth experienced baseball overload on occasion, but she was the ultimate trooper while trying to gather in as many historical facts as possible.

Moments after we toured the Hall of Fame, we were like a tag-team trying to let the other know of a possible sighting of retired Major Leaguers. As soon as we walked down the museum steps, standing immediately ahead of us was former Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone signing autographs.

Couldn’t pass that up as my wife look bewildered. Had to explain that Leo was responsible for keeping a strong pitching staff intact during the Braves’ run of division titles. Couldn’t help tell her Leo was the man who rocked back and forth in the dugout.

An array of former Major Leaguers were stationed in front of baseball card stores up and down Main Street giving out autographs – for a price. So the only other signature I caved in for was another Brave – reliever John Rocker. Not necessarily a fixture in Braves history, but definitely added pizzazz.

Looking to conserve cash on autographs, the camera definitely came in handy. Captured moments with Braves general manager Frank Wren, Tommy Lasorda, Dale Murphy, Darryl Strawberry, Ryan Klesko, Ozzie Smith and wouldn’t you know it Pete Rose. ESPN and MLB network’s Peter Gammons was a popular fixture among the fans who found him leaving Doubleday Field.

Some pictures, however, needed to be discreet as I found out after getting my hand slapped to an extent by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. After shooting his picture, Robinson called out to me and said, “Young man” as he pointed to a tin can sitting on the table in front of him. As I walked closer, the paper attached to the can read ‘Donations for pictures.’

I stuck a couple of bills in the can, turned around and moved on quickly.

The parade of living Hall of Famers along Main Street on Saturday was phenomenal not only because there were as many as 50 represented, but the sight of seeing thousands upon thousands lined along the streets was absolutely incredible.

On Sunday, between the power going out in the wee hours of the morning at our hotel to the rainstorm following us to Cooperstown seemed disappointing.

But when we arrived in town at 8 a.m. waiting for the trolley to arrive, the rain stopped for good. At the sight of the induction ceremony, we waited 5 1/2 hours for the festivities to begin. Along with the 48,000 other baseball fans.

It was well worth the wait.

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com