By Greg Klein Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN -- Just because the National Baseball Hall of Fame is turning 75 this coming summer doesn’t mean the Cooperstown shrine is slowing down.
In fact, the opposite is true.
President Jeff Idelson said Tuesday the Hall’s 75th anniversary celebration will stretch across four weekends, beginning in the spring.
“Of course it all starts with the two elections coming up,” Idelson said of the Expansion Era Committee voting results, which will be announced at Baseball’s Winter Meetings at 10 a.m. Dec. 9, and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America results, which will be announced at 2 p.m. Jan 8. “We could be in for a very big induction weekend. I hope we are.
“Of course, it is sort of like predicting the weather,” he continued. “Except in this instance, we want it to snow.”
Idelson’s remarks came as he and his staff greeted about 100 Otsego County residents during an open house that highlighted the four event weekends.
“As we turn 75, we are building our program for this weekend,” he said of Induction Weekend, which is July 25-28.
The Hall will again have its Hall of Fame Classic on Memorial Day Weekend. The seven-inning exhibition will take place May 24 and will honor baseball’s connection with the armed services. Idelson said Ozzie Smith and Phil Niekro will serve as team captains. He added he’s trying to recruit four other Hall of Famers as well as former MLB players to play.
Also on May 24, the “Night at the Museum” program will return for its second year. There also will be a members golf fundraiser and a youth skills clinic that weekend, which will include the “Be A Superior Example” (BASE) Race. This marks the third BASE Race — a road race that promotes healthy living. The first two were held in August.
The Hall’s 75th birthday is June 12. The building opened in 1939, with an induction class that included Babe Ruth. Idelson said he hoped descendants of Ruth would attend the celebration. The remainder of the weekend will feature a special celebration for members.
Induction Weekend figures to be busy. Former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa seem to be shoo-ins on the Expansion Era ballot, and a few others might make it from that ballot as well. The BBWAA ballot includes first-timers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas, all of whom appear to be strong candidates. Induction Day is July 27 at the Clark Sports Center.
On Aug. 2, the Clark Sports Center will host a celebration concert featuring the Boston Pops.
“We are bringing here to Cooperstown the greatest house band in the world in the Boston Pops,” Idelson said.
He said that the rest of the lineup will be announced shortly and will include musicians from various genres, including country, rock, classical and jazz.
“It is going to be a star-studded lineup with individual performers each coming out to perform three to five songs with the (Boston Pops),” Idelson said.
“The reason we have not announced the lineup yet,” he added, “is that performers are just beginning to make their plans for the year. But they are aware of what we are doing and we have a lot of people who are interested.”
Idelson said that he expects many other celebrities to attend the event, including actors and comedians.
“Really we are looking at it as a cultural event and not just a concert,” he said. “We are really are going to have a lot of tentacles in the water and a lot of reasons for people to become attached to Cooperstown.”
The open house Tuesday concluded with a ribbon cutting for the Hall’s new exhibit, “Picturing America’s Pastime.” The exhibit, which includes 50 photos from the collection and more than a dozen artifacts, attempts to represent the history of the game and its connection to America, according to Erik Strohl, the vice president for exhibitions and collections.
“The goal was to pick 50 photos that represent the entire scope, breath and depth of the collection,” Strohl said, adding that it took his staff many months to choose the final pictures for the collection.