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April 11, 2013

Gossage and Niekro to headline Classic

Hall of Famers Rich “Goose” Gossage and Phil Niekro will serve as team captains for the fifth annual Hall of Fame Classic on May 25 at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

The seven-inning exhibition played by former major leaguers will be held on Memorial Day weekend for the first time. Previously, the Classic was contested on or the day before Father’s Day.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame will also salute the nation’s armed forces during the event, which starts at 2 p.m.

The Hall also announced that Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers will make his first appearance in the Classic since 2010.

Managers for the Classic will be familiar with one another. Though it’s unclear which dugout they’ll call the shot from or who they’ll manage, former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox and ex-Toronto Blue Jays skipper Cito Gaston will guide their respective clubs.

Those two matched wits in the 1992 World Series, with Gaston’s Blue Jays earning a 4-2 series victory.

Gossage will make his first appearance in the Classic since 2011.

“We’re going to build a team that can stop Knucksies’ winning streak in Cooperstown,” said Gossage, in a Hall of Fame media release, referring to Team Niekro’s two-game roll in the Classic. “And we’re all going to have fun doing it. It’s an honor to come back to Cooperstown any time, and it’s a special privilege to return to the Classic and to honor our nation’s military heroes.”

Last year, the Knucksies earned a 5-4 win over the Wizards. In 2011, it was an 8-6 Knucksies win.

The Knucksies are named in honor of Niekro. The Wizards were named after Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who, like Niekro, played in each of the first four Classics. Hall spokesman Brad Horn said in an email last week that Smith will not play this year.

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