Ozzie Smith PLAYs Ball in Cooperstown in Education Fundraiser
COOPERSTOWN, NY, July 22 — Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith gave dozens of children and adults an on-field experience of a lifetime Friday morning at Doubleday Field. He and fellow Hall of Famers Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, and Cal Ripken, Jr. hosted dozens of baseballers of all ages in a fundraiser for Hall of Fame educational programs.
The 19th annual PLAY Ball — Players, Legends, and You — meet and greet includes personalized on-field instruction, storytelling, and the chance to turn double plays. There was a station at each base — Thome at home, Murray at first, Smith at second, and Ripken at third. Participants had a set amount of time at each station before rotating their way through each.
This event is one of several taking place over Hall of Fame Weekend. It culminates in the induction ceremony Sunday, July 24th. David Ortiz, Tony Oliva, and Jim Kaat will join four posthumous inductees. These inductees are Buck O’Neil, Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, and Minnie Miñoso.
“That’s Why We Do This”
The fundraiser supports the education department at the Hall as well as the Ozzie Smith Diversity Scholarships for the Museum’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. Smith said, “We’ve probably raised somewhere close to $250,000. So, you know, we’re continuing and it’s a good program, and — great story — one of the first interns now works with the (Minnesota) Twins.” Smith got to meet the intern Thursday but couldn’t remember his name during the media availability.
Participants beamed as they got to have their pictures taken with the four Hall of Famers. “It’s a great, great feeling to have the opportunity,” Smith explained. “Growing up in (Los Angeles), I used to sit out in the bleachers and stuff. A lot of these people here all have their favorites. It’s nice, I think, for them to have the opportunity to not only meet their favorite player but players from the other teams as well. Get to know them a little bit better. And that’s why we do this.”
Main Photo Caption:
COOPERSTOWN, New York, Jul. 22 — Hall of Famers (L to R) Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, Jim Thome, and Eddie Murray are introduced prior to the 19th annual PLAY Ball experience, a fundraiser for the Hall’s education programs. (Photo by Evan Thompson)