COOPERSTOWN, N.Y., AUG. 5 -- The induction ceremony scheduled today at the Baseball Hall of Fame was called off. Ppd. Rain.
It was like going to a baseball game only to have the skies cloud over and the rain pour, then waiting out the inevitable. Jim Palmer and Joe Morgan will wait to be inducted until Monday at 10 a.m.
"I'm kind of discouraged," said Palmer after the postponement was made official with thousands of fans waiting drenched in the rain or taking cover in the Hall itself and the shops along Main Street. "I feel sorry for all those people who came so far who won't be able to stay around."
He and Morgan waved to the crowd packed into Cooper Park in the remote upstate village, and received an echoing ovation in return. "When I walked out there with Jim," Morgan said, "and saw all those people, not my close friends, but the real baseball fans of America, I was touched. Real deep down inside, I guess, I'm a traditionalist."
Palmer noticed a sea of orange-and-white Orioles umbrellas. "Those Oriole fans, wherever they are, they're still hanging in there," he said.
"What can you do about rain?" said a fan using the extra time to inspect the plaques in the Hall.
"So many people have to get home to work tomorrow -- it's a shame," said another.
It was the first time since 1976 that rain delayed the ceremonies.
Palmer likened the postponement to waiting an extra day for his pitching turn. "Actually, when I got up this morning my arm didn't hurt," he said.
Known for frequent complaints about injuries during his career with Baltimore, he overcame rotator cuff problems in 1967 and 1968 that almost ended his career prematurely.
"It sent me to the minor leagues where it got old pretty quick being introduced as the last man to beat Sandy Koufax," he said, recalling his 1966 World Series victory. "That would have been it if it hadn't been for anti-inflammatory medication and my pitching coach, George Bamberger."
Morgan thanked writers for electing him, saying "I'm appreciative that they took the time to look beyond the numbers." His "numbers," though, include a major league record for most seasons by a second baseman (22), consecutive errorless games (91) and most home runs by a second baseman (266).
He was wearing his 1976 World Series ring from the Cincinnati Reds because, he said, "to me, that team was the greatest. We didn't lose a game in postseason play."
Palmer praised Morgan's "persistence" as a player; Morgan said he has persistence in whatever he does. In June he received his college degree, although he already is a successful businessman and, like Palmer, an ESPN baseball analyst.
"It took me 22 years to make the Hall of Fame," Morgan said, "and 27 years to graduate from college.
"I promised my mother. Lucky for me, she didn't ask when."
As a last resort in case rain continues, Hall of Fame officials said the ceremony would be held in a small, local gymnasium instead of on the museum's library porch.
The Orioles and Montreal Expos are to play an exhibition at little Doubleday Field Monday. Today a tarp covered the infield and many fans stopped by, took in the quaint surroundings, watched the raindrops, philosophized and hoped.
"What's the weather forecast for tomorrow?" Palmer asked.
"Rain," he was told.
"That means it won't," he said.