:-Instream Sports-:
 
 
 

Power Alley

Do You Remember the Hall of Fame Game?

Blog image

Do You Remember the Hall of Fame Game?


John D’Acquisto's picture
Share/Save John D’Acquisto
Former National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year, John D'Acquisto pitched for the Giants, Cardinals, Padres, Expos, Angels and Athletics from 1973-1982.

Do You Remember the Hall of Fame Game?

I like to think I’ve done some pretty special things on a baseball field that could qualify as once in a lifetime games or achievements. Well let me share a little known fact with you about the Baseball Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, New York.


"Each year from 1940 to 2008," according to its wikipedia page, "Doubleday Field hosted the Hall of Fame Game. Originally a contest between 'old-timers' teams, it later became an exhibition game between two major league squads. Traditionally, the game was held during the annual induction weekend of the nearby Baseball Hall of Fame, but in later years it was scheduled in May or June, to accommodate the participating teams' travel schedules." Much like the All-Star Game, "its results did not count in the official standings, and substitute players were generally used to avoid injury to starters. The curiosity factor two teams from different leagues playing each other in this game outside of a World Series, [All-Star] or spring training situation was eventually removed with the 1997 launch of interleague play."


"On January 29, 2008, Major League Baseball announced that the final Hall of Fame Game would be played six months later, June 16th, between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres, citing 'the inherent challenges' of scheduling teams in the modern day as the reason for ending the annual contest." Ultimately, the game was called due to a thunderstorm, and never played. While the Mid Summer classic enjoys a national audience, the Hall of Game was for the most part a local event, which to me informs the decision to end this exhibition to some degree. Without delving into whether or not MLB possesses the rather minimal resources to keep this old-school tradition alive, let’s just step into the time machine and remember this fine annual Baseball event through the lens of, not just one start at the Hall of Fame Game, but two.


In 1975, as I was coming off the disabled list for the San Francisco Giants, I was the tenth man on the staff until I worked my arm back to complete strength. As most of you know, the 10th man is generally the final spot of the staff, a much more fluid position where you catch all the garbage that is thrown at you. I was asked to start the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown for the ball club – you see, when a major league team goes to these exhibition games you really can’t disrupt your rotation so you use guys who haven’t thrown much, like me. You can also choose the 10th man in the staff – also, like me. I knew it wasn’t going to be a fun assignment because no one at all wanted to play.


I was starting against the Boston Red Sox, who were in first place at this point of the season, on their way to their historic match against the Cincinnati Reds in the ’75 World Series. The Bosox were hotter than a firecracker in the 2nd half of the year, kicking everybody’s back sides with consistency. I can remember it was a clear, gorgeous day in Cooperstown. First inning I gave up a few hits, a couple runs and then settled down. Overall, I thought I pitched rather well for just coming off of surgery. If I recall correctly, I threw three or four innings, the most since returning from the DL . I still didn’t pitch for close to another month after this game.


A few select moments stand out in mind from this day. Bernie Carbo was laid out on the scoreboard sunbathing and at times asleep the whole time I pitched. I faced a couple of great players early on like the rookie sensation Jim Rice, Pudge Fisk, to name a few as they departed later to give way to the utility players who would finish the game. The final score of the game was 11-5 for Boston in a bit of a laugher. To be fair though, that '75 Sox team was absolutely stacked. Rice and of course, Freddie Lynn, both drove in over 100 runs . I’m not sure two rookies on the same team had ever done this before or since. Guys like Cecil Cooper, Dewey Evans showed flashes of their future greatness throughout the campaign. Even the aforementioned Carbo, that colorful character, may have only hit .257 but he got on base more than four of every 10 times up at bat. Billy Beane would’ve loved Carbo the player.


After the game, we returned to the hotel to clean up when we all discovered this indoor Olympic size swimming pool. So a bunch of us dove in and chilled out for an hour. Meanwhile, a group of female fans were looking at us through the windows - word traveled fast from the fans checking us out. We had generated quite a stir around the hotel, because most of us were skinny dipping. All in good fun though.


Later on, we were given a tour of the Hall of Fame museum and were amazed at the size of Babe Ruth’s bat and the shinny spikes of Ty Cobb. It just spewed history of our favorite past time. If you ever get a chance you need to go and behold where the majesty of baseball unfolds in front of your eyes as it takes you back in time. Even at the young age of 23, I felt like a little boy on a class trip, staring in wonder at these pieces of my world. Did you also know that there is a small movie theater and a bowling alley in the cellar of the Hall of Fame, at least there was when I was there. Turned out to be a very special day in my life.


The next Hall of Fame Game I started was as a member of the San Diego Padres against the Texas Rangers. Famed 1970’s baseball character Brad Corbett owned the ballclub but I’ll give you three guesses who was in the stands that day. Future owner of the ballclub, President George W. Bush. Lots of people went to see Willie Mays get inducted into the Hall of Fame that year so it was Giants legends and fans everywhere.


Pretty much the same set of circumstances as ’75 - no one wanted to throw, it was my work day which happened to do the club's off day. Legendary Padres announcer Jerry Coleman was the manager that season and asked me to throw three innings to start this bad boy off, which I gladly accepted. I left the game before the start of the 4th and proceeded back to the pool as I did on the previous trip. Rollie Fingers, Eric Rasmussen, Bob Shirley, and Bob Owchinko finished up. The final score on that game was 12-5 for Texas, another proverbial butt-kicking.


The end result didn’t matter, though. It was the day that local fans could enjoy the quaint, cozy confines of Doubleday Field, the observers could pretend, if only for two hours and thirty minutes, as if it was a mid-century barnstormer. It was fun again to be a part of this tradition. Since it was my second time at the rodeo, I was basically the tour guide to other players in Cooperstown for their first trip, I enjoyed finding new exhibits to the museum - we even bowled a little in the cellar this time, if you can believe that.


You know, as a player, as you’re stepping through the hallowed halls of this place, you stare at the plaques, you think to yourself, “With a few more MPH on number one, a bit more spin on the curve, maybe, just maybe.” Maybe it’s a maybe not, but so what; it gave me this momentary jolt of confidence and encouragement; the tuning fork in my soul struck a note like the first sound you hear at the beginning of a Rocky montage. It gave me this incentive to play as hard as I could to achieve the goals of being a Hall of Famer. Obviously that didn’t happen; but that moment happened, the moment where I realized I played against the best of the best in my industry, and even if I didn’t win the war, so to speak, there were some pretty awesome battles where I got to claim victory.


I know I’m in that building somewhere – a book, a clip in the media room, perhaps a random card in the Topps montage on the second or third floor. In the history of the game forever and ever enshrined, maybe not as a Hall of Famer but better, a baseball player, a player who started two Hall of Fame Games.


Kinda special in my book.


Photo Credit: Slgckgc

Blog tags: 
Blog image: 
Tagline: 
Former MLB Pitcher John D'Acquisto does. He started two of them.

Total comments : 1


Comments

markrandles's picture

I was lucky enough to get a ticket two times - 1974 and 1982. I remember being there in 1974 with a group from my summer camp (yes, I did select my weeks there based on the date of the game) and one of my friends actually ran onto the field during introductions and went up and down the first base line, getting all the Atlanta Braves (including Aaron) to autograph his program.
I also went in 1982, which was Mets v. White Sox. This time, the rain came in about the fifth inning, and we took off to go to the Hall. About a half hour later, the place was overrun with players, as the game was called and the players had time on their hands before heading to the airport. I stood and watched the Babe Ruth video alongside Dave Kingman, John Stearns and George Foster who were, like me, marveling at the towering shots hit by the Babe. I asked Carlton Fisk who had won the game and he was just happy to be out of the rain.
Somehow, if they reinstated the HOF Game as we knew it, things would be quite a bit different....

Great piece, John!

 

Related Articles


The Hall of Fame is a politically-driven organization that deems players of prowess entry into


read more

author picture

Saberleaders: A nostalgia freak finds religion in the church of Sabermetrics
A NY Daily New


read more

author picture

On the second night of Passover, a simple dinner discussion that evolved into an argument between th


read more

author picture

The Rangers are the best team since the '98 Yankees. Do you agree?
Tom Verducci made this sta


read more

author picture

THE PINSTRIPE EMPIRE SUPPLEMENT Thoughts on Marty Appel and questions left on the editor's


read more

author picture

The three-way trade involving the Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks – you know, the


read more

author picture

In 2012, if you were to look at Tim Lincecum from the point of view of a biomechanical engineer a


read more

author picture

If there’s a segment of sports history that appears to be gathering a fair amount of audience inte


read more

author picture

TRENTON, N.J. – It’s a legitimate question. What is the difference between a Double-A pitcher an


read more

author picture

There was no Home Run Derby. There was no fan fest. There was just a game. A game of st


read more

author picture

“Johnny D?” “Yeah,” I reply, half asleep, just 45 minutes into a slumber coming off a 17-


read more

author picture

“Everyone’s goal is to get to the major leagues. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to get


read more

author picture

You can argue forever about what was the greatest outfield of all time — but when it comes to the


read more

author picture

TRENTON, N.J. – Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain assured everyone he would be in Trenton to fulfil


read more

author picture

One thing I have known about Joba Chamberlain since I first met him during his time with the Double-


read more

author picture

Back in 2006, the Yankees, with their eighth-round pick, drafted a Brooklyn high-school kid named De


read more

author picture

A good friend of mine sent me this a couple days ago:


“It doesn't look like Rays


read more

author picture

TRENTON, N.J. – Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is not expecting to make any major moves tod


read more

author picture

Today’s narrative: MVP, M


read more

author picture

Plane rides never feel this good. Not at 2 AM. At least not this late in the seaso


read more

author picture

Back in Spring Training 2011, all the talk in the Yankees’ Tampa, Fla., camp was the progress of M


read more

author picture

I’m not the biggest fan of opinion pieces from overnight games – there’s a slew of other, bett


read more

author picture

I’m not much for talking. I was always taught when you’re in the dugout not to dwell on success


read more

author picture

We’re not there yet.


That’s the only conclusion we can arrive at after looking


read more

author picture

“I don’t want to go to New York,” my wife said, a half-empty glass of Cabernet accentuating he


read more

author picture


“You’re about to be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals,” she said with a smile t


read more

author picture

I love Boston.


Not the ballclub, hell, I never even pitched against the Sox. Neve


read more

author picture

Jerry Seinfeld pretty much nails it with his “we root for the laundry” stand-up bit, but let’s


read more

author picture



Imagine you’re behind the wheel of a 1977 desert beige Porsche Tur


read more

author picture

Don’t rock the boat.


Everyone was saying that in August 1974 – it was from one


read more

author picture

"Oh shit, Johnny, there's a T in the road,” Randy Moffitt yells, beside me in the shotgun seat, le


read more

author picture

The phone rang in my kitchen.


“We’re trading you to the New York Mets,” Buzzi


read more

author picture

I really love the sensation of coming across a song I haven't heard in decades, as it unlocks this m


read more

author picture

You’re under the brilliant lights on a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles. There’s not a


read more

author picture

DERRICK MAY: Father’s Day is on Sunday and the holiday of course makes us think about our dad, Dav


read more

author picture

Latest / Most Viewed

AlOliver's picture

We’re down 2-1 in Game 7 of the 1985 American League Championship Series against the Kansas City

Derrick and David May Jr.'s picture

DERRICK MAY: Father’s Day is on Sunday and the holiday of course makes us think about our dad, Da

John D’Acquisto's picture

You’re under the brilliant lights on a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Dave Jordan's picture

I really love the sensation of coming across a song I haven't heard in decades, as it unlocks thi

From the Bullpen

Miracles by John D’Acquisto

You’re under the brilliant lights on a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles. There’s not a ...

 
 
 
 
X

Instream Sports - Login


Loading