Hall of Fame Game canceled due to rain

Hall of Fame Game canceled due to rain

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The annual Hall of Fame Game requires nearly 12 months of planning on the parts of Hall of Fame officials and Cooperstown, N.Y., village employees, but much of that planning was washed out Monday afternoon as heavy rains played havoc with the popular springtime exhibition.

With the Cincinnati Reds holding a 3-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the bottom of the third inning at historic Doubleday Field, National Baseball Hall of Fame officials announced the cancellation of the 60th annual Hall of Fame Game.

The Reds had taken the lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI single by designated hitter Jason LaRue and a two-run home run by journeyman center fielder Quinton McCracken. After the Reds came to bat in the top of the third inning, Reds starter Eric Milton questioned umpires about the condition of the pitcher's mound, prompting members of the grounds crew to attend to the area. The afternoon rain then intensified, forcing Hall of Fame executives to call the game at approximately 2:25 p.m. ET.

Due to the onset of rain and the forecast of inclement weather throughout the afternoon, Hall of Fame officials had actually started the game 20 minutes earlier than the scheduled 2:00 p.m. first pitch. The decision allowed fans to see two and a half innings of baseball, but not enough to make it an official game.

A capacity crowd of nearly 10,000 fans appeared to fill Doubleday Field for the game, but Hall of Fame officials indicated that no official attendance was tabulated because of the rainout.

Notes: Any fans holding ticket stubs to Monday's Hall of Fame Game can request a refund by writing to Cooperstown Baseball Committee; PO Box 590; Cooperstown, NY, 13326. ... Prior to watching the current-day rosters of the Pirates and Reds (along with a few selected Minor Leaguers) do battle at Doubleday Field, fans took a step back in time to observe two Hall of Fame right-handers -- Phil Niekro and Robin Roberts -- throw out the ceremonial first pitches. Reds center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr., who did not play in Monday's game, also participated in the ceremonial first pitch, an unusual occurrence for a current-day ballplayer.

More information:

• The Pirates last played in the Hall of Fame Game in 1980, one year after winning the world championship. Playing against the Chicago White Sox, the Pirates banged out 16 hits as part of an 11-8 win at Doubleday Field. Hall of Famer Willie Stargell provided the game's most dramatic moment with a 400-foot, pinch-hit home run to straightaway center field. Chanting for Stargell to make an appearance, the fans at Doubleday received their wish when Pirates manager Chuck Tanner inserted "Pops" into the game

• Given its run of bad luck, the Hall of Fame might want to think twice about asking the Reds to participate in future exhibition games. The Reds' last three scheduled visits to Cooperstown have all resulted in cancellations. In 1989, the Reds never made it to central New York, as their plane suffered a hydraulic breakdown prior to take-off in Montreal. In 1981, the Reds' appearance in Cooperstown was negated by the Players' Association strike. Cincinnati's last participation in the Hall of Fame Game was back in 1967, when the Reds lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 3-0. That game, which was called due to rain in the ninth inning, did feature an appearance by Reds Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who played third base that afternoon.

• Niekro, Roberts and Nolan Ryan were three surprise visitors to Cooperstown this weekend. Though their arrivals were unannounced by Hall of Fame officials, the three right-handers participated in the Hall of Fame's Sunday morning unveiling of a new statue dedicated to the legacy of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). While Roberts and Ryan have no direct ties to the theme of women in baseball, Niekro used to serve as the manager of the professional women's team, the Colorado Silver Bullets, which existed from 1994 to 1997. Ryan's business partner, Don Sanders, a onetime minority owner of the Houston Astros, donated the new AAGPBL statue to the Hall of Fame.

• Other visitors to Cooperstown on Monday included Hall of Fame right-hander Ferguson Jenkins and former Negro Leagues left-hander Willie Fordham.

• Earlier on Monday, several surviving members of the AAGPBL signed autographs for fans during a special "meet-and-greet" session in Cooper Park, located just outside of the Hall of Fame Library. Approximately 50 alumni of the league were in Cooperstown over the holiday weekend to take part in an extensive Mother's Day celebration at the Hall of Fame.

Bruce Markusen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.