It started with Pudge Rodriguez and Tony Perez shaking my hand. It moved to playing catch with Phil Niekro and Jacque Jones, and it ended with a nice talk with former Marlins catcher Charles Johnson...
I have been going to Cooperstown every year since 2002 for Hall of Fame Weekend, one year as a fan and the other 10 as a media member. Not this year. No living members were inducted (first time since 1965) so I bagged it. And even from afar, it had the feel of a very different weekend.
Pete Rose was banned from baseball on August 24, 1989 by then-commissioner Bart Giamatti for placing high stakes bets within the game, and even for and against his own team he managed, the Cincinnati Reds. Rose is still banned from baseball and Hall of Fame induction.
There is no question that Mariano Rivera is a Hall of Fame closer. But the question now is, Will Rivera get into Cooperstown on the first ballot like a Ty Cobb or Ted Williams or Hank Aaron or Ernie Banks or Willie Mays or Cal Ripken Jr...
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