Saturday, September 09, 2006


I hope this is the first of many “Meeting Hall of Famers” entries in

In 2002, my friend Steve Rosenthal was covering the opening of the Baseball As America traveling Hall of Fame exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York. He brought me along on the pretense of being his photographer, but really so I could meet the Hall of Famers at the function.

There were many Hall of Famers at the opening including Stan Musial and Hank Aaron.

Now for those of you who don’t understand what this feels like, the best way I can describe it is imagine going to Disneyland... and when you see Mickey, Donald and Sebastian the Crab, it’s not an actor in a costume... it is the REAL Mickey, Donald and Sebastian the Crab!

People were mobbing Musial, Aaron and newly elected Dave Winfield. But I would be standing and look to my right and there’s Juan Marichal... just standing there... nobody to talk to. So I chatted with him.

Ozzie Smith seemed like he was running for office, shaking everyone’s hand and sounding thrilled no matter how sketchy your media credentials were.

Tony Perez was the only member of the Red Sox from my youth who was there, although Sox fans mainly remember him for his Game 7 homer off of Bill Lee.

Phil Niekro looked more like a history teacher than a Hall of Famer. God I should have learned the knuckleball!

Nobody was cooler than Brooks Robinson (bottom row.) He was holding court, talking baseball with anyone who would listen. He watches the current game and loves Chipper Jones. He was talking my ear off to the point where I actually had to say “Um... Mr. Robinson... I got to go.” I didn’t mean to blow off the MVP of the 1970 World Series.

Some people I just didn’t have the nerve to ask for a picture. Bob Gibson was one. I came up to him as he was in conversation with fellow Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. I think all I got out of my mouth was “Mr. Gibson....” He glared at me as he was in midsentence and I tipped toed away, remembering he threw at the head of his best friend, Bill White.

I later introduced myself to Mr. Schoendienst. I told him I was a Red Sox fan and it was a pleasure meeting him, despite the fact that he beat the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series. He squinted and said “We beat you guys in 1946 too!”

Sparky Anderson was as energetic as the Tazmanian Devil. I introduced myself to him and told him he made me laugh when he guest starred on WKRP in Cincinnati. (He was hilarious in that cameo.) He started laughing and said “How in the Hell did you remember that?”

Mr. Anderson... you have no idea how much useless junk my memory is storing up!

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