Storm ushers end of era for Baseball Hall of Fame Game
June 18, 2008
COOPERSTOWN - The heavens cried as they witnessed the end of an era.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame hosted the 62nd and final Hall of Fame Game on Monday, only to have it rained out before the first pitch could be tossed.
Rain, hail and thunderstorms drenched Doubleday Field and ultimately washed out Monday's exhibition game, featuring the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres.
To be a part of history, nearly 250 Fort Drum Soldiers and Family Members traveled Monday to witness the annual Hall of Fame Game. As they waited for events to kick off, Soldiers and their Families enjoyed burgers and other snacks from the Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
FMWR and Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers have hosted Fort Drum community members who have travelled to the annual game for the past eight years. They provide tickets, food and a front row seat to the day's trademark event, the Hall of Fame Game Day parade.
"I never thought I would ever be here," said retired Staff Sgt. Brian Wells. "This is really great. Even though it got rained out, I have actually enjoyed being here. The parade was awesome. I just wish my father could have been here with me."
During this year's parade, nearly 3,500 fans lined the sidewalks of Cooperstown's Main Street.
A U.S. Air Force color guard led the procession, as modern and vintage vehicles, bagpipe bands, floats, local veterans groups and Cooperstown police and fire department members followed. The parade concluded with four vintage trolleys carrying players from both the Cubs and Padres.
"I loved seeing the (airmen) carrying the flags as they led the parade," said 7-year-old John Lartz, daughter of Cubs fans John and Sheila Lartz from Bozeman, Mont. "There were also fire trucks (and) bands, and they gave me candy. But better than that, I got to see my Cubs players. I know they are going to win it all this year."
After the parade, fans made their way from Main Street to Doubleday Field, where they were greeted by heavy rain showers. The rain also forced postponement of the annual Home Run Derby.
A public address announcement urged fans to leave the ballpark and seek out shelter due to severe weather. Heavy rain, along with lightning, thunder and hail, followed a few minutes after the announcement.
In the past, the storm likely would have caused the game to be canceled immediately, but Hall of Fame officials, with permission from both the Cubs and Padres, tried to wait out the weather.
As the rain subsided, fans were allowed back into the stands. As they returned to their seats, they got to witness Padres right-handed pitcher Greg Maddux formally donate the home jersey from his 350th career win to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
They also got to witness 87-year-old Yosh Kawano, a longtime Cubs' equipment man who first joined the team in 1943, donate his trademark fishing hat to the Museum. Kawano retired in April because of health reasons, bringing an end to nearly 65 years of service in the Cubs' clubhouse.
The rain stopped and gave the Doubleday Field grounds crew an opportunity to work on the field.
The break in the weather also allowed Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins, as well as Cooperstown residents Homer Osterhaudt, Howard Talbot and Catherine Walker, to throw out ceremonial first pitches.
Osterhaudt, Talbot and Walker were present during the first Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1939.
Shortly thereafter, the storm resumed, and officials finally called the game to the dismay of more than 9,500 fans in attendance, bringing to an end a tradition that had started one year after the Hall of Fame's grand opening.
The rainout brings to an official end the Hall of Fame Game, which was first played in 1940 by the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. Major League Baseball officials announced in January that this would be the last Hall of Fame Game because of scheduling problems.