Honoring dignity and classI went down to Cooperstown yesterday with my dad and brother to see Cal Ripken Jr and Tony Gwynn inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. It was an absolute madhouse. Last year's induction ceremony drew around 11,000 people. Yesterday's reportedly drew over 75,000. The village's regular population is around 4,000.
It was insane. It was just one giant mass of humanity. I've never seen so much black and orange in one place. I'm not much of a crowd person but it was fun to do once. I bet there were more Baltimorians in Cooperstown yesterday than in Baltimore.
Although it was hot and we were on our feet for four hours straight, the atmosphere was fantastic. It was like a giant rock festival. Despite the mass of people, (nearly) everyone was friendly and engaging. Several different random people initiated conversations with us like they'd known us for years. It was all about the love of baseball.
On the way back to the parking place, we were walking with this guy from San Diego who said he grew up in the same neighborhood as Gwynn. He talked about how Cooperstown was in the middle of nowhere. I laughed and said to my dad that this guy had obviously never been in the Adirondacks!
The madhouse also brought out the entrepreneurs. Residents were renting out their parking lots for $30 (further away from the induction site) or $40 (closer). People were selling bottled water and canned soda for $2. Sadly, none of these people were at the induction site, when we most needed liquids. One clever person even put a garbage can out with a sign that said 'recycle cans and bottles' on one side and 'Emma's college fund' on the other.
Cooperstown is a fantastic place to go. The whole area is just so beautiful. Not like the Adirondacks. Nothing is. But beautiful in a more understated way. Its expansiveness is a sight to see. The village, when there's not 75,000 people there, is a great little place to be.
Ripken's and Gwynn's speeches were very different but both good. Gwynn basically told stories about different stops in his career and different people that helped him along the way. Ripken talked a lot about how athletes are role models whether they like it or not. Both talked about the importance of how you conduct yourself in public.
Given all the publicity given in recent weeks to athletes who are crooks, scumbags and cheats, it's nice to see the limelight go to two men who've always tried to act in a way that benefited something bigger than themselves, two men who always conducted themselves with dignity and class.