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THE GARY CARTER HALL of FAMES PAGE
Gary has been inducted to 3 Hall of Fames and I was lucky enough to be present at each of them.
This page will detail and capture the highlights of each.
2003 National Baseball Hall of Fame
2001 Canadian Hall of Fame
2001 New York Mets Hall of Fame
My trip to Cooperstown started January 7, 2003 which was the day the BBWAA voting results were made known. 20 mins after the announcement I was on the phone trying to book a room in Cooperstown and I quickly found out that I was months late, everything close by was taken. Found a room at the Clarion Hotel in Oneonta which is 24.1 miles from Cooperstown but it was an awesome room for a decent price. Got on the phone and called the guys I was going with, my brother Brian, brother in law Bryan and his friend Macey (who is a big Eddie Murray fan) and they were all in.
Day 1 ~ Friday July 25, 2003
The best call we made all weekend was to start our day at 4:00 A.M. Packed our stuff, hit the road and 4+ hours later we cruised into the Oneonta area.
Our first stop ~ DENNY’S ~ (my love affair with Denny’s and the Farmers slam is another story)you get a ton of hot food for your dollar. Checked into our hotel, dumped our stuff and it was off to Cooperstown.
We parked in the public area that the Trolleys stop at, which was still open (it was 10ish) but later in the day it becomes harder to find a spot. You might be able to find a parking spot in the town but the experience of pulling into town down Main Street on the Trolley is a great way to go.
We started walking down Main Street hitting every shop as we went along. Macey was on a mission to find a missing magazine for his collection and we were checking out the times for the Hall of Famers signings. Around 1 we hit TJ’s Place for lunch. TJ’s had some good food, cold beer and you can’t beat Bob Feller stopping by our table telling us to “Try his Chili”. -- check out the first ingredient -- YUM!!!!
Hit a few more stops and then we went into the Hall of Fame. I have been to the Hall a few times before but never on an induction weekend. The true baseball fan can stay in there for hours and we did just that. It was the first time for my brother Brian and Macey and they looked like kids at a candy shop. Macey got a picture at every plaque that had a Oriole hat (thank God he is not a Yankees fan) and I got mine with the display they had for Carter and Murray.
Before we left for the Hotel one last thing to do ~~ BEER ~~ 4 friends on a road trip, baseball, hall of fame induction for my boyhood hero and cold beer - no one was better than me. We found a great bar "Sherman's Tavern" which is right around the corner from the Hall of Fame.
After a quick stop at the Hotel we hit the town of Oneonta. Drank a few beers and went to bed.
Day 2 ~ Saturday July 26, 2003
We decided the night before to get to Cooperstown as early as we could. Once again we hit Denny’s and took the trolley into town. We pretty much went our own way since each of us wanted to do different things. My first stop was to meet up with a friend. Since I have put this site up I can’t put into words the number of people that have contacted me throughout the years and one of them was Ray Strickland from Florida.
Ray happens to be a very good friend of Gary’s and first contacted me to inquire if I would put a link to Gary’s Foundation on my site. I was more than happy to set the link and to say thanks he was able to arrange a call from Gary which was unbelievable.
We kept in touch, traded Carter stuff and I am happy to say that Ray has become a good friend. Ray also gave me a call 15 mins after Gary got the call from Jack O’Connell letting him know that he made the Hall (this was an hour and half before the media got the results – got a lot of “street-cred” at work for that one). Met Ray and his wife Danielle on Main Street, exchanged a few gifts and agreed to meet up Sunday before the Ceremony.
The four of us met up in front of the Doubleday Batting Range, had to hit a few.
After we just walked up and down Main Street grabbing a few items here and there. A bunch all Hall of Famers were busy signing away in front of just about every store. One unique exchange occurred between Warren Spahn and a fan. Warren was looking rather frail and in a wheelchair but proved to be as sharp as ever. This one fan was getting a few items signed and then he motioned for his wife to snap a picture of his child and Mr. Spahn. He placed the child, who was a few months old, on the table and before the wife could snap a picture Mr. Spahn was waving his arms and head saying “no, no, no” the fan thought that Mr. Spahn did not want any pictures taken but it was then that Mr. Spahn stated the he “was not signing any children today” which really cracked up the crowd. We then stopped by Doubleday Field to catch the game between the Oneonta Tigers & the Tri-City Valley Cats (the Tigers won 4-3).
Once again we split up my brother Brian and Macey went in search for autographs and my brother-in-law Bryan and I went to the Connecting Generations event at the Clark Sports Center.
This event featured Brooks Robinson, Robin Roberts, Phil Rizzuto, Dave Winfield and Harmon Killebrew. These greats were telling stories and taking questions form the audience. We didn’t know what to expect and really went to break up the day but I have to say it was an awesome time, the Hall of Famers were great and their stories even better. We all met back at "Sherman's Tavern" and recapped our day. My brother Brian got a Tom Seaver auto, Macey got Yogi Berra, Rod Carew and Buck O’Neil. Macey also told us about meeting Buck O’Neil just walking across the street – in fact I think he told us that story about 20 times that night. We went back to the hotel – Macey jumped at the chance for a nap and Brian, Bryan and I went in search for a BBQ place we passed. BROOKS BBQ was awesome - some of the best BBQ food and sauce I ever tasted. After dinner we grabbed Macey and “shopped” at the Oneonta bars again. Bryan and I retired early but Macey and my brother kept a few bars in business for the month that night.
Day 3 ~ Sunday July 27, 2003
THE BIG DAY
As you might have guessed first stop Denny’s.
Before the ceremony we stopped in town for some last minute shopping. The postmarked cache was on sale and I just had to pick one up.
We decided to walk to the Sports Center but buses were available from the Doubleday field parking lot. The walk was nice – some nice houses and the rolling fields were beautiful. Along the way the locals were selling everything from the Sunday news, soda/water, home made cookies and even parking spots on the lawn. We got to the Center about 2 hours before the ceremony and parked our lawn chairs.
My brother needed a few more minutes of sleep but the rest of us got on the program line. It was raining that day and I am sure a large percentage of programs never made it out of Cooperstown. It was an hour before the beginning of the ceremony and I got a call from my friend Ray informing me that he had an additional ticket for the VIP area.
I couldn’t believe it, up until that point the weekend was by far better than I could ever have thought and now this just put it over the edge. I was able to get as close as row 40 which put me in a prime spot to see Cal Ripken and President George Bush Sr. walk right past me, unbelievable. The ceremony began with an introduction of 44 Hall of Famers who returned for the day. Hal McCoy, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, was the day’s first speaker. Mr. McCoy’s speech was phenomenal and it went way beyond baseball. Mr. McCoy suffered an optic stoke that left him partially blind, his speech praised all the people in his life who supported him throughout his career. If you get a chance to see the video of this speech I challenge you not to get choked up. Bob Uecker, the Ford C. Frick Award winner was next to speak. You have to see Mr. Uecker’s speech to fully understand how funny it was. It was wonderful to see all the Hall of Famers on stage falling out of their chairs. Gary was next – I am still in awe about the whole weekend and to finally see in person my childhood hero topping of his great baseball career was one of the best experiences of my life. Gary’s speech had a little something for everyone. He addressed the Expos fans in French and thanked them for the standing ovation he received in his last game. Gary pointed out that the greatest thrill of his life was when the Mets won the World Series in 1986 which got a nice roar from the crowd. He thanked everyone who helped him make it to the majors. One great story that Gary told was during spring training 1991 with the Dodgers Eddie Murray broke a bat and handed it to a child in the stands – the child happened to be Gary’s son D.J. and now 12 years later they are sharing the Hall of Fame stage. Gary’s love for his family really came through, he might be better known for his work on the baseball field but as long as I have been following his career his family has been the most important part of his life. His Mom passed away when Gary was 12 and his Dad passed early in 2003 but to Gary they had the best seats in the house – “Dad on the right shoulder and Mom on the left”. It was really nice to see his wife Sandy and kids Christy, Kimmy and D.J. also share in his moment - I think their smiles were bigger than Gary’s. He ended his speech by thanking everyone he was not able to mention and with “It is nice to know that even though my body feels like an old man now, I will always be a kid at heart. I love this great game, I'm so honored to be in Cooperstown as a Hall of Famer. I love you all, God bless you, thank you very much.”
Eddie Murray was the final speaker. I did not closely follow the man but I respected his career on the field. Eddie took some playful jabs at the press and spoke from the heart which was nice to see from someone who was portrayed as surly.
I met up with everyone, we enjoyed a few more beers, toasted the weekend and hit the road for home.
In closing and as I stated before, the weekend was perfect – everything that could go right did and all of us felt the same way. We vowed to do it again in 2007 when Ripken and Gwynn are inducted.
After the ceremony was over we jumped on the bus and it was back into town. I went to the Hall to grab the new plaque postcards while the others hit "Sherman's Tavern". The post office was set up for the postmarking and there were huge lines for the official postmark stamp. People were getting everything that was not nailed down cancelled.
Just a quick note on things with the cancellation stamp - make sure that the cancellation mark goes over the stamp - I have seen a bunch of stuff on-line that looks as though the cancellation was copied and they added the stamp later.