Editor’s note: The following is part two 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. The column will appear in three parts running through Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Pivotal decision one led directly to pivotal decision two, but first, a little back story leading up to Sunday’s trek. The Evening Sun’s yearly induction ceremony coverage consists of a power trio that includes yours truly, photographer Frank Speziale, and occasionally Speziale’s son, Francesco, who also takes photos for our newspaper. This yearly event, I will admit, does not carry the same weight for me as it does for the Speziale family. I dare say, few people look forward to the induction ceremony more than Frank. Usually by May, Frank is pestering me (in an non-obtrusive way) to get my media credential requests out to the Hall of Fame’s media relations.
Each day in the two weeks leading up to the fateful day (sometimes longer), there is discussion about the trip and plans to leave at a certain time. With this year’s event bringing in a record crowd and subsequently record traffic, Frank suggested we make an allowance for that and leave extra early. I agreed it was a prudent idea to depart Norwich 2 1/2 hours early to beat the incoming traffic. This now brings us to decision number two: Frank asked if I wanted to drive my car or take his – twice in fact – and I responded each time, “no, we’ll take mine.”
The trip was uneventful until we reached Fly Creek, a small town about three miles from Cooperstown. Instead of staying on Route 80, we were re-routed to Otsego County Route 26. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but it did give us a back-door entrance into Cooperstown and a quick path to our parking area at Cooperstown High School...