Bird-Watchers Flock North

Fans grab spots early for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held in July.
Fans grab spots early for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held in July. (Page P1 Baseball Photo By Mark Finkenstaedt For The Washington Post; Above By Milo Stewart Jr. / National Baseball Hall Of Fame Library)
Sunday, January 14, 2007

As soon as Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr., pictured at right, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball in 2002, fans began making arrangements to attend his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Everyone knew he was a shoo-in, even if his induction wasn't made official until Tuesday. Now, fans who plan to attend the summer ceremony will need Ironman-like perseverance to get a hotel reservation. Better move like you're stealing third.

-- Elissa Leibowitz Poma

WHAT: National Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend

WHEN, WHERE: July 27-30 in Cooperstown, N.Y., a 6 1/2 -hour drive from Washington

WHY GO: This year's induction is expected to be the "biggest we've seen" in terms of crowds, said Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Polly Renckens. In addition to Ripken, eight-time batting champ Tony Gwynn will be honored at the July 29 ceremony.

WHAT'S ON DECK: Though the exact schedule of activities won't be finalized until March, induction weekend will include the usual lineup of events, said Hall of Fame communications director Brad Horn. Those include a baseball-themed round-table discussion; a fundraiser hosted by 2002 Hall inductee Ozzie Smith; a trivia contest and Q&A session with former players; and a private dinner that draws legions of fans to a red carpet-style entrance to see their favorite stars. There will also be a minor league baseball game featuring Ripken's Aberdeen IronBirds.

Like some of the weekend's events, the 1:30 p.m. induction ceremony is free to the public, and no tickets are required. The ceremony takes place in a large, open field in which sunscreen-slathered fans -- some of whom arrive at 7 a.m. -- witness the induction from blankets and lawn chairs.

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