Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cooperstown 2007 = Saturday Part 2

So I paid my $25 to park in a lumber yard and walked a half mile into town. Main Street was completely shut down and the street was more of one giant sidewalk. I was in a hurry as I needed to visit the little boy's room (a portapotty in a parking lot of Doubleday Field) and I wanted to find a Cal Ripken Orioles shirt (in hopes of attracting him to sign and also possibly Jim Palmer if I saw him again as he only signed for people wearing orange). I accomplished both my missions and fought my way through the throngs of people on the street and made my way to the front of the Hall Of Fame. I opened up my chair, plopped my rear end in it, and waited. It was a little after Noon.
Every Saturday night of Induction Weekend the Hall Of Fame puts on a red carper gala event, where the Hall Of Famers arrive on trolleys, are introduced to the crowd, and attend a desert reception inside the Hall's plaque gallery. It's a big event and it attracts a lot of spectators and autograph seekers. If you want to get a prime spot, you need to get their early. Last year, i got there at about 3:30 and there were already people waiting. I figured with all the people, it couldn't hurt to play it safe and get there even earlier. I was there for about 45 minutes when a few of the people that I met they year before wandered up and took their spots with me. Glen and Claudia (nice couple). Some of the other "waiters" from last year showed up not too much later. Again, I got there around 12:30. The event started at 8pm with the HOFers showing up at 9:30. I was in for a long wait.
I'll fast forward about 9 hours and skip all the boring stuff. At this event, many of the guys don't stay long. Willie Mays and Whitey Ford left before everyone even got there. Some stay 15 minutes, some stay a few hours. Some leave through the back door, some come out the front, and some sign autographs. Most are dressed in suit and ties, with their respective guests donning similar attire. This year there was one exception, and that was none other than Billy Ripken. Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Way to get into the spirit of things Billy. There were even some "celebs" in attendance, most notably "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter (still gorgeous) and Julie Chen, host of CBS' Big Brother. I guess her hubby is friends with somebody which is why they were there. No Travolta though.
I was really there for one person and that was Cal. Everyone else who came over and signed I already had, such as Boggs, Brett, Sandberg and Rollie Fingers. Paul Molitor was over signing when Ripken came out and the crowd went bonkers. I knew since Mollie was signing on our side that there was no chance Cal would come over. The big question was would he sign? To his credit, he did, and he spent about 45 minutes to an hour going around the entire street signing. He finally made his way to my corner and I'm happy to say I walked away with his autograph. The place was going crazy. He made a few laps around the place making sure he got everybody he could. After I got him the first time, I ran around to where he was in a different area and tried again, this time without the Orioles shirt and cap I was wearing on, in an attempt to throw him off. I didn't get in his line of sight and he left for another area and noticed he was looking for people wearing O's stuff. I threw the shirt back on, this time backwards, and tied again, but he stopped signing before he got back to me. I wanted to get a second one as a wedding gift but it wasn't meant to be. Sorry Annie, I tried.
Things died down around 11:30pm and i headed out of town and trekked up to my ride. It was about midnight when I made it back. I had just scarfed down a slice of pizza and guzzled an ever-so thirst quenching bottle of ice cold water. They both hit the spot. I drove back up to the trolley lot, set the alarm for 4:45am, and probably dozed off at about 1am, hoping that Sunday would bring similar success.
Here are links to the other recaps: Thursday, Friday, Saturday Pt.1