Delaney: Baseball in the Rain, sans Gene Kelly
On Baseball Hall of Fame weekend when it rains in Cooperstown it's raining Red Sox and Yankees instead of cats and dogs. Or Cubs and Cardinals. Depends on if you favor the American or National League.
The start of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's signature weekend was a wet one. There was a rain delay at Doubleday Field Friday morning for Ozzie Smith's PLAY Ball clinic. Told you there'd be Cardinals in this. Smith had at least one fan at the clinic. Thirty-five-year old Jeff Bary now of Hamilton, but originally from southern West Virginia where he learned to be a Cardinals fan and had a cup of coffee as a Little League infielder.
Now a Colgate University astronomy and physics professor, Bary paid up for the clinic because he wishes he'd stayed with America's pastime, which he believes baseball is by the way. So Bary is sort of Hamilton's Doc Graham. Sort of.
"That's my regret, I didn't play baseball," said Bary, who gave it up for tennis.
Graham regretted he didn't get to hit in the Major Leagues. After a sac fly in Kevin Costner's corn, he went back to medicine.
More Hall of Fame events are planned for Saturday, of course, including a 'Connecting the Generations' seminar featuring 2008 inductees Goose Gossage and Dick Williams.
From the few people who were in downtown Cooperstown late Friday afternoon, I think Jim Rice is going to have a healthy group of supporters at Sunday afternoon's Induction Ceremony.
There were plenty of people in the village wearing t-shirts from Rice's former team, the Boston Red Sox. Red Sox stickers and license plate frames were spotted on several vehicles, including those with non-New England state license plates. And every other car seemed to have Massachusetts plates. They must have all been there for Rice. Why else would anyone from Mass. leave the state this weekend?
A young man downtown wore a gray Red Sox road jersey with Rice's name and No. 14 on the back. The number will be retired by the Red Sox next week. Gossage was the only other Hall of Famer represented in town Friday. You'd think someone would have a Rickey Henderson jersey considering he played for nine teams. No, it was Gossage who slipped through a downtown market with a hat and dark glasses.
While Rice might end up being the fan favorite Sunday, Henderson is the stat star and personality. The all-time runs and stolen base leader - second in walks - Henderson was a first ballot selection with 95 percent of the vote. For Boggs, he was also the first to refer to himself in the third person.
"It will be interesting to find out if he does that on Sunday," Boggs remarked.
Rice was elected in his final year of eligibility, despite being a "dominating" player of his era according to Boggs. Rice's numbers are impressive. As my colleague John Pitarresi wrote in a blog earlier this week, Rice is one of only three guys to lead a league in home runs, triples and RBIs.
Rice was a different personality from Henderson. He wasn't flamboyant, wasn't a guy to draw attention to himself, though his opponents had him pegged.
"In Baltimore, we avoided Rice," Eddie Murray said. "In that lineup, and that was a good lineup, but sometimes you got to pick your poison. We thought he was the guy to drive in runs so we tried to duck him."