Hangin’ in the Hall
Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame is a national treasure that every baseball fan should experience at least once in their lives. This season, the Tigers and Red Sox squared off in the annual exhibition game in Cooperstown. For me, today was a day I won’t soon forget. We did not telecast the game from Doubleday Field today, but our FSN crew was in Cooperstown to shoot some segments from the Hall for use in our Tigers Weekly and pregame shows. The doors to the Hall of Fame opened at 9:00 am, but our crew was given access to the museum to shoot our segments before the doors opened to the public. Joining us on this journey was 1981 inductee and Tigers Hall of Famer, Ernie Harwell.
For my part, I spent a few minutes interviewing Ernie in the writers and broadcasters wing of the museum. Ernie was also there to shoot about eleven other segments for future shows. I learned today how truly talented Mr. Harwell is. After we wrapped up our interview, Ernie was whisked to different exhibits in the Hall where he would work his considerable magic. "We need two minutes on Charlie Gehringer, Ernie." Ernie would then, off the top of his head, tell a two minute story about Gehringer. Two solid minutes of info you likely have never heard before. He did this for about two hours, popping from exhibit to exhibit telling tales of the games greatest players. It was truly amazing to watch. None of these segments were scripted, all were spontaneous and add-libbed. Here I was in the Hall of Fame, with Ernie Harwell and we had the run of the place all to ourselves. I’m sure there are more than a few people that would have given almost anything to trade places.
All of us who grew up in Detroit should realize how lucky we are to have had the opportunity to listen to Ernie. He truly is a special person. In fact there is no one like him. There are twenty nine Ford C. Frick award winners in the broadcasting wing of the Hall, but in my mind, Ernie is the total package. Keep in mind that Mr. Harwell went on to broadcast for twenty one years after he was inducted. Impressive.
After we finished with Ernie, I took some time to wander the museum before doors opened. One of the first exhibits I ran into was that of the Red Sox World Championship in 2004. On display was Curt Schilling’s bloody sock from last year’s post season run. After about 30 seconds, I was sufficiently creeped out and moved on, happy in the fact that I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet.
Favorite exhibits: 1984 Tigers World Series championship(naturally), and the Ty Cobb display.
Most bizarre: The Angels’ Rally Monkey display. Imagine that, The Rally Monkey is in the Hall of Fame, but Pete Rose isn’t.
As for the game, the Tigers won on a two-run, walk-off homer by minor leaguer Derek Nicholson who was called up for a day to play in the game. Afterward, Gibby removed the lineup card from the dugout so he could give it to Nicholson as a lasting memory of his game winner. And I thought I was having a good day.
Most impressive moment: Dmitri Young hitting the roof of the house beyond the right field wall in the homerun hitting contest before the game. David Ortiz hit he most homers, a total of eight, but Dmitri’s was the most impressive. Almost took out a window.