Editor’s note: The following is part three of Evening Sun sports editor, Patrick Newell’s account of the 2007 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. and the events of that day.
So the official induction ceremony was over, and all that remained was the final stage shots of Ripken and Gwynn. Our intrepid Speziale duo – father and son – worked the photographer’s pit until the last possible moment before the baseball immortals made their exit. I met with the two of them and we had a quick decision to make: Take the shuttle bus back to our car or walk the mile-plus back to Cooperstown High School. Considering the exceptional amount of pedestrian traffic – a fact that made bus travel unlikely for at least 30, we hoofed it back to our car. Turns out that saved us time, but it really didn’t matter. It took us nearly 30 minutes before we made it out of the parking lot and back onto Chestnut Street. Progressing slowly to our turn off, Francesco suggested we take the longer route to Oneonta, whereby we would get on a bigger highway. (Yes, another pivotal choice to make.) That decision was an easy one. Our back-road bypass, county Route 26, was the road less traveled, so we turned right with approximately a four-mile drive to Fly Creek before a left turn back onto Route 80.
Moving slowly along with busy traffic, we made it about three miles until our trip home hit a road bump. Actually, it wasn’t so much a road bump, but an animal darting in front of me, and I hit it flush under my front bumper. I had no idea what it was – it certainly wasn’t a dog and it was much too big for a house cat. I wondered to myself if I had injured and most likely killed someone’s house pet. I slowed and looked back into my rearview mirror and noticed the animal was still spinning like a top. Francesco asked me, “what was that, a stuffed animal?”