COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - In the absence of living, breathing inductees at Sunday's annual Hall of Fame ceremonies, a function of the doping cloud over baseball, distant relatives of three prominent figures from baseball's horse-and-buggy age will be featured.
Anne Vernon will give the acceptance speech for her great- grand uncle, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, who purchased Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1920 and built the original Yankee Stadium, which opened in 1923.
Jerry Watkins will represent his great-grandfather, Deacon White, who played so long ago (he was a rookie in 1871) that he predated the catcher's so-called "tools of ignorance." White caught barehanded, in the days when catchers positioned themselves several feet behind home plate, and later became the first catcher to wear a mask.
"He was one of the last people on Earth," Watkins said Saturday, "to believe that the world was flat."
Dennis McNamara will speak for his great-grand uncle, Hank O'Day, whose umpiring career began when he was recruited among spectators to work an 1894 game in Chicago. O'Day was the man who called out the New York Giants' Fred Merkle for his so-called baserunning "boner" that cost his team a 1908 victory against the Cubs.
McNamara said O'Day's umpiring work caused him to "forego relationships. He had no friends, no family."
Media awardsOn Saturday, deceased Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play man Tom Cheek received the Ford C. Frick Award presented annually for broadcasting excellence and veteran journalist Paul Hagen (very much alive) received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award given to baseball writers. Hagen, now a national reporter for MLB.com, spent 25 years covering the Phillies for the Philadelphia Daily News after stints as a beat writer for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers.