February 23, 2015

16 Years

1999 Hall of Fame Induction
The day George Brett retired from baseball my dad said, “when he gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame we should go.”  My brother and I waited five years and the day he was elected to the Hall of Fame, we reminded him of this.  He kept his word and we drove to Cooperstown for the 1999 Hall of Fame induction.  It was an amazing weekend.  We couldn't get a hotel in Cooperstown so we stayed over an hour away.  We got up each morning and drove into town.  My parents paid for a parking spot near Doubleday Field and that became our base camp for the weekend.  My brother and I roamed the town and museum and were amazed when someone told us we should go put our lawn chairs out for the induction.  We drove out to the field and staked our claim.  We stood in awe as the Hall of Famers were announced, the names we had read about growing up, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, and Yogi Berra to name a few.  We stood and cheered when George Brett gave his speech.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  

A couple of months after returning home, we got a Hall of Fame magazine in the mail.  In it was an add for the Hall of Fame photo department and it had a picture of all the Hall of Famers that were back that day.  I ordered an 11X14 inch print and in November of that year Bob Feller and Warren Spahn were signing autographs in Kansas City.  I got both of them to sign that picture and started a quest to get all of the Hall of Famers to sign it.  Sixteen years later I was down to needing only one autograph to complete the picture, Nolan Ryan.  It was announced that he was signing autographs in Houston in February.  I ordered my tickets and booked my flight.  Then two weeks before the signing, my Dad lost his long battle with alzheimer’s disease.  He was there at the induction, and for several of the autograph signings, but wouldn't be able to see the completed picture.  
Nolan Ryan
Thinking of him, I got in line to get the picture signed.  Everyone in line loved the picture and was asking me about the different autographs.  Nolan was quiet but nice when I told him that he was the last autograph I needed.  As I walked away a very nice couple in line in front of me wanted to look at it and I told them that dad had passed away the week before.  She gave me a big hug and I shed a tear and thought about all the memories I had getting that picture signed.  I thought of my dad and the trip to Cooperstown, I wiped my tear away and I smiled.

Completed Picture (31 signatures)

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