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

Local Sports

July 24, 2013

Hall of Fame Weekend stars await their moment in the sun

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“This is indescribable what it means to our family,” said Watkins. “It has been a lifelong dream of (Deacon White’s) grandchildren and his great grandchildren to see him honored in this way.”

James “Deacon” White was one of the 19th century’s greatest players. As a bare-handed catcher, White was an innovator. He was one of the first players in professional baseball to use a catcher’s mask and one of the first to catch the ball on the fly while catching.

According to Watkins, White earned the nickname “Deacon” from his teammates.

“He was given the nickname by his teammates, because he was a devout Christian,” Watkins said. “He would pray, he read his Bible and they called him The Deacon.”

Paul Hagen spent 40 years as a baseball journalist, including 26 years covering the Philadelphia Phillies. He will be honored this weekend at the Awards Ceremony on Saturday, July 27, with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions for baseball writing.

In his 40-year career, Hagen has seen some memorable things. From the Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series to many no-hitters, Hagen has witnessed a lot of memorable moments that fans dream of seeing. 

One event though, resonated with Hagen about his career covering baseball. “Being at the earthquake World Series in 1989 was unique to say the least. It convinced me of something that I have always thought: If you can do a good job covering a baseball beat, you can do just about anything in journalism,” Hagen said. “I think a lot of baseball writers showed how adaptable they were and how well they can cover just about anything during that.”

Hagen said he is looking forward to the weekend festivities in Cooperstown.

“Everybody likes to be recognized for what they do, especially if you put a lot of yourself into it,” he said. “I think it’s nice to get that recognition. I’m really excited when I think about how excited my family is. That means a lot to me, to see how much they are looking forward to it and see how excited that they are. They have put up with a lot for me to do this all of these years.”

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