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2002: Diary of a Season

Friday, July 5, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown

The 4th of July fell on a Thursday and I had Friday off from work too, so a friend and I decided to go to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. I've been twice before, in 1999 and 2000. (Photos from those two visits are combined into the Summer Photo Album section.) A lot of the exhibits are changed each year, so there are always new things to discover. We arrived in Cooperstown on Thursday afternoon and visited the Fenimore Art Musuem before walking around the souvenir shops on Main Street near the Hall of Fame. At 7:00 we went into the Hall of Fame, because if you enter within two hours of closing, you can come back the next day without having to pay again. We started in the gallery where the players' plaques hang. Because it was late in the day on a holiday, we almost had the place to ourselves. After finding all our favorite plaques (I would have read them all if I had time - you can learn a lot of fascinating trivia that way!) we moved on to the Records Room and then to the no-hitter display case. I was disappointed to see that that display only went up to 2000. I wanted to see Hideo Nomo's and Derek Lowe's no-hitters commemorated, but I didn't get to see them until the next day.

Bob Montgomery's cap Lowe's no-hitter in the HOF

We came back the next morning and went upstairs to the section on modern baseball. That's where I found a ball from Nomo's no-hitter in 2001, and the bat used by Scott Hatteberg in a 2001 game in which he hit into a triple play and had a grand slam. There were also the shoes, hat, and a ball from Derek Lowe's no-hitter earlier this season. I think that was my favorite part of the museum this time, because not only was it history, but it was a game I had been fortunate enough to witness in person. From there, we toured the history section, which is always fascinating. They have everything, from Babe Ruth's bowling ball, to Cy Young's license plate, to Shoeless Joe Jackson's shoes! After that, it was on to the third floor, for exhibits on ballparks, the postseason, uniforms, and the history of baseball equipment.

Ted Williams' plaqueI was at the equipment display looking at former Red Sox catcher Bob Montgomery's cap from the 1979 season (Monty wore a protective liner, but was the last major league player not required to wear a batting helmet), when an announcement came over the P.A. system that Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams had passed away in his Florida home. As a tribute, the Hall of Fame would be showing a special video in one of its theaters in half an hour. We went down to watch the video, which was an interview he had done for a sports show in the early 1980's. Before it started, a Hall staff member talked about how Ted was a member of the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee, and how in his 1966 induction speech, he had championed for the induction of Negro League players into the Hall. When we left the theater, we walked back to the gallery to revisit his plaque. There was a bouquet of flowers with a black ribbon hanging on the wall under the plaque, and the alcove was full of people. When we went back into the lobby the large statue of Ted Williams, which together with Babe Ruth guards the entrance to the Hall, also had a flower arrangement stationed at the base with a gold ribbon that read "Splendid Splinter." We finished the rest of the exhibits, hit the gift shop, and then drove back home Saturday.

Sunday, July 7, Fenway Park, Section 32

Tigers 9, Red Sox 8

Dewey watches batting practiceIn the past week, the Red Sox had fallen out of first place (though they were only one game back) despite a five-game sweep of Toronto earlier in the week and Pedro's shutout the day before. When we got to Sunday's game, the Red Sox were taking batting practice. Usually by the time the gates open the Sox are done and it's just the visitors, but the Tigers didn't take B.P. that day. There was a large "9" mowed into the grass in left field in honor of Ted Williams.

Sunny Kim, who I had just seen on Tuesday, was pitching against Detroit's Adam Bernero. This time Kim gave up a run in the first on a double and two groundouts. In the bottom of the first, Johnny Damon singled, stole second, and then stole third, but didn't get any further. The Red Sox got on the board in the second, when Jose Offerman hit a bases-loaded two-run double. The lead didn't last long, however, because George Lombard led off the third with a homer, and a couple of batters later Shane Halter belted a two-run shot to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead and knock Kim from the game. The Sox tied it back up in the bottom of the inning, on Brian Daubach's homer and Trot Nixon's double. It was going to be that kind of day.

#9 in left fieldNeither team scored in the fourth, but the Tigers regained the lead in the top of the fifth off Tim Wakefield, with a single, a stolen base, a passed ball, and a double. In the bottom of the inning, Shea Hillenbrand reached on an infield single, Jason Varitek hit a ground-rule double, Tony Clark had a sac fly, and Trot Nixon got his third hit of the day. That scored two runs and gave the lead back to the Sox, 6-5. Tim Wakefield opened the next inning by giving up three straight hits, which scored two runs and gave the lead away again. He was replaced by Alan Embree, who struck out the side, but not before he allowed an RBI single which made it 8-6 Detroit. By now, no one was surprised when the Sox tied it up in their half of the sixth on Offerman's double and Daubach's second homer of the day.

Ted Williams signThe game actually quieted down a bit in the seventh, when Rich Garces retired the side in order, and the Sox went quickly in their half too. But in the eighth, El Guapo walked the bases loaded, and Chris Haney came in to surrender an infield hit, which again gave the Tigers the lead. I knew there were two innings left, but I wondered how much magic the Sox had left. They had already given up the lead five times in the game, yet had managed to reclaim it four times. The 3-4-5 hitters were due up in the eighth, so I was pretty hopeful. Nomar started the inning with a fly out. He was the only one in the lineup who hadn't reached base yet. Daubach, who had already hit two homers, struck out. Hillenbrand had hit two singles, but he grounded out to end the inning. Haney got through the ninth, thanks to a great defensive play by Nomar, and it was on to the bottom of the ninth.

As I've mentioned, I've never seen a "walk-off" win, where the Red Sox win it in their last at-bat, but I thought, the way this one was going, that this would certainly be the day. Sure enough, Varitek led off with a single, and Rickey Henderson came in to pinch-run. Tony Clark was up next, but Manny Ramirez was on the bench. This was the day before the All-Star break, and Grady Little was giving a day off before or after the break to each player who was selected. (At least he didn't give them all the same day off, like Jimy Williams used to!) He let Clark stay in the game, and he hit a fly to left. Trot was next, and he had had three hits already, but he flied to right. Finally, with two outs, Manny was called upon to hit. Everyone in the park rose to their feet to chant "Manny, Manny!" He swung at the first pitch, and I could tell off the bat it was going a long way. The right fielder was going back. I started a scream designed to crescendo right as the ball landed. And it did land, but right in the glove of the right fielder on the warning track, a couple of feet short. There was no walk-off, but I couldn't blame Manny. Eight runs against the lowly Tigers, and it wasn't enough. The holes in the bullpen were beginning to show.

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