Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

I know this is a bit late, but I've finally gone through and put something together from the 650+ pictures that I took of the actual induction ceremony. It was hard to limit it to a manageable amount, and even though this post will still be a bit long, I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

This first picture is of the photographer's "pit" at the front of the stage. My seat was in the third row, which was just crazy! But, it got even better, as after the initial introductions, none of the other photographers stayed in their seats, and all pretty much went up to the stage, so I just followed along.

This is a view from the hill at the back of the lawn, looking towards that stage. I'm not really sure why these people chose to sit this far back, as the grass in the middle never really filled in, but here they were.

As sort of an opposite view from above, this was taken from my seats on the benches, looking back at the crowd. At the very back you can see the tents and canopies on the hill, where I took the previous picture.

As the Hall of Famers filled onto the stage, it was pretty neat watching them interact with each other. In the front row, Hank Aaron is talking to Sandy Koufax, as Yogi Berra turns around to talk with those behind him. Wearing the Giants cap, Willie Mays is checking out the program of the days events.

There were a total of 51 past Hall of Famers present at the event, and it was pretty amazing getting to see them all in one place. They were each announced individually, and acknowledged the crowd, with some more enthusiastic then others. I took pictures of their individual introductions, but they weren't too exciting, and I wasn't able to get them all anyway, so I figured an overall shot would be the best. If there is a Hall of Famer that someone would like some individual shots of, just let me know, and I'll see what I can come up with.

As the ceremony began, I was sitting directly behind Michael Zagaris, the official photographer for the Oakland A's. When I was at the Coliseum for the retiring of Rickey's number, they were playing a slide show of pictures from the induction ceremony, a lot of which were similar to pictures that I had also taken.

After all of the past Hall of Famers were announced, it was time for the new inductees. Wearing a signature white suit, Rickey acknowledges the crowd as Jim Rice looks on.

It looked like it was going to rain for most of the morning, and it did rain fairly hard for about 5 minutes when the ceremony first started. Luckily for me, and my camera, it didn't last very long, and the sun eventually came back out. On the left are Rickey's three daughters, followed by his mom, and finally his wife on the far right. I never would have thought that I'd be sitting in front of them at the ceremony!

Everyone stood for the singing of both the Canadian and American National Anthems.

Joe Gordon's granddaughter accepted his Hall of Fame plaque, and gave a really great speech afterwards.

Of all the times that I saw Jim Rice over the weekend, very few of them was he not smiling. In the picture above, Joe Morgan looks on as Rice gives his induction speech.

Rickey and Bud Selig watched a nearby monitor as highlights and clips of Rickey's career were played.

Most (but not all) of his fellow Hall of Famers were also watching the clips.

Rickey gets his first glimpse of his Hall of Fame plaque, a time that was many years in the making!

Rickey prepares to begin his speech, as his plaque is displayed out front. At this point in time, I'm kneeling in front of the stage, and am probably the closest person to him during the entire speech. This was definitely not what I was expecting, and was way beyond anything that I could have ever imagined.

But, I wasn't always the closest person to the stage, as a few times the official cameraman filming for the MLB Network broadcast would politely step in front.

After the speeches were over, you could tell that everyone was pretty relieved to get them out of the way. I'm sure they'd been stressing over them for quite some time.

These are my favorite non-Rickey pictures of the ceremony. After everything was over, Sparky Anderson "enthusiastically" congratulated Jim Rice, as Johnny Bench look on in the background.

There was actually quite a lot of drama over the above shot. Before the ceremony, the Hall of Fame had decided that only their photographer would be allowed to photograph both of the inductees together with their plaques. This did not go over well with the other photographers, but in the end, everything was worked out.

I couldn't decide which of these shots to include, as I like them all for different reasons, so you get all three of them! I think the first one is my favorite, as the expressions on both of their faces is really great.

After the ceremony was over, Rickey and Jim Rice came back out and did a short interview for the MLB Network with Harold Reynolds.

Finally, is this picture of Rickey from the post-induction press conference. The picture of Rickey himself isn't all that great, but I just love the gigantic Hall of Fame banner that is hanging above him. For some reason, I find it really amusing.

Hopefully everyone was able to hang in to the end, and enjoyed the photo tour of the ceremony. I've still actually got a few more Hall of Fame posts to put together, which I'll get out as soon as I can.


Jacob said...

Brad! That was pretty cool. Amazing experience for you to be such an interesting part of the ceremony & it even looked as if RH looked directly at you for one of the pix.

TikiBird said...

I love your photos where Rickey's looking so relaxed and the Hall of Fame inductees are goofing around. And that huge HoF banner photo is great. It emphasizes the history of the place over the specific players...and kind of looks like it's going to completely overtake the little Rickey underneath! LOL

Dean said...

Great Pictures. These guys looked like they were really having a lot of fun.