Saturday, July 25, 2009

Party with the Stars

Don't get me wrong, I love being an elected official. Really. The countless (and endless) meetings don't bother me a bit. There is one, and only one, real perk to being Deputy Mayor/Trustee in Cooperstown. I get to go to Jane Clark's Friday night party two days before Induction.

The fun begins at The Otesaga. It's from the hotel that shuttle buses leave to the party. The lobby is filled with Hall of Famers and their families. Everywhere you look there's a legend. My wife and I went out to the veranda, it was pouring and there was a rainbow. An even more magnificent sight was Yogi Berra and wife Carmen, to my right, chatting away.

One of my favorite scene is the shuttle itself. Last night, we rode with Frank Robinson, Don Sutton, Rollie Fingers and Phil Niekro. I've met Phil before and he always remembers, which is nice. In fact, two years ago I drove him and his wife Nancy from the hotel to a local haunt, where we met up with Rich Gossage. Just another of my surreal Cooperstown experiences.

I pride myself in knowing enough about the players to always approach them from an angle they don't expect. It's always effective and they seem to appreciate not being asked about the same old stuff. Robin Roberts, who was a great college basketball player at Michigan State, was sitting alone when I saw him. We had talked once about Basketball Hall of Famer Bobby McDermott, who I have been researching. Last night, I regaled Roberts with some McDermott stories and we were having a great time. He told me about playing against George Mikan in Chicago Stadium.

Rod Carew came over and excuse himself for interrupting. Rod Carew, begging my pardon! Too much. He and Robin chatted a bit and I realized I was the one who should get out. Which I did.

Standing on line for food, we found ourselves behind Paul Molitor. I forget how I know Molitor was a big Springsteen fan, but I know. At a Hall event, I had my youngest son, a big Bruce fan himself, asked Paul about The Boss and Molitor was genuinely surprised at the question. I asked Paul if he had seen Springsteen with Jay Weinberg on drums and we talked for a while. Great fun.

Here's another story. I was walking out of the food tent when I saw our State Senator Jim Seward. He made a little joke about us having food and I said "I got this for you to eat while you wait on line." Don Sutton, standing behind Seward honed in.

"You know these politicians," he joked.

"Gotta keep 'em fed," I responded.

"Hey, he's one too!" Seward pointed out. True, I had almost forgotten.

The nice thing about going to the party year after year, last night was my fifth, is there is that little hint of recognition from people who know they've seen you before, but just can't quite place you. When you get the nod of the head from Sparky Anderson, or Tom Seaver, I gotta tell you, it's a thrill.

We got back to the hotel around 10:45 and went in to get our umbrella. As we left, Reggie Jackson and Rickey Henderson were yukking it up. Too much!

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