Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

April 11, 2013

Gossage and Niekro to headline Classic

Staff report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — 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.

In addition to the Hall of Famers, the Classic will feature more than 20 recently retired major leaguers. Four soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division also will participate in the exhibition, which will be preceded at 1 p.m. by the Legends Hitting Contest.

As part of the military celebration, the Classic will feature appearances by members of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum. The 10th Mountain Division Band and Color Guard will take part in the pregame festivities. The band will play in the pregame Cooperstown Game Day Parade, which will begin at noon on Main Street. It will also perform several patriotic selections and the national anthem before the Classic.

Following the Classic, the Hall of Fame will host “A Night at the Museum” – a new event that provides a limited number of fans an evening with Hall of Famers and other big league stars from 7 to 9 p.m. Fans can take pictures with players during a meet-and-greet throughout the Cooperstown shrine.

The Hall also has two new ticket packages this season. The first includes a ticket on the first- or third-base side and a one-day museum pass for $25, a savings of $7; and for $50, fans will receive a first- or third-base ticket and entry to “A Night at the Museum.”

Classic Weekend will feature the return of the Hall of Fame golf tournament fundraiser for the museum; the Youth Skills Clinic hosted by several former major league players; a member photo opportunity with Hall of Fame members; curator-led talks on the history of Doubleday Field; a family photo opportunity at Doubleday Field; and the Family Catch at Doubleday Field.

Tickets for the Classic are $12.50 for first- and third-base seats, and $11 for outfield seats. Tickets can be ordered at www.baseballhall.org or by calling (877) 726-9028.