Retired baseball hall-of-famers love their golf

National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin speaks at a press conference at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y. (July 21, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.

Being the newest member of the Baseball Hall of Fame doesn't quite entitle someone to a mulligan, but it's close. When Barry Larkin led off the Hall of Fame golf outing yesterday at the Leatherstocking Golf Course, he told the media, "That was 320 right down the middle, gentlemen."

Actually, it was a push to the right, near the trees, but no big deal.

The point is, the annual pre-induction tournament is a reminder that golf and baseball are a good combination. For most of the Hall of Famers who played Saturday, golf is their second favorite sport (and gaining).

"I can't shoot my age any more," Al Kaline said. "I'm 77 and I don't come close to 77." Still, he keeps trying. He told reporters after his tee shot on No. 1, "Why don't you guys go into the trees and kick it out for me?"

Lou Brock, who began the shotgun tournament on the back nine, said, "I had a birdie on 15 and it was all downhill from there."

Rollie Fingers put a really smooth swing on his drive at the same hole. "I'm a 6, so I play quite a bit," he said, referring to his handicap. "I swing just as hard as I did when I was a kid, it just doesn't go as far."

Carlton Fisk is possibly the best golfer among the Hall of Famers, with a handicap that he says is either 5 or 6, depending on how he is putting. "I never took a lesson, I just came out and tried to figure things out," the former catcher said. "Get out of the car, go to the first tee and sooner or later my game will catch up. Six or seven holes, it usually catches up." He added that George Brett's drive on 18 was the longest he ever had seen. "Yeah, it wasn't bad," said Brett, a lefty golfer who sliced his drive on No. 1 -- a mirror image of Larkin.

"I play to about a 12," said Larkin, who will be enshrined Sunday. "That means I'm OK. There are always a couple of shots that keep bringing me back. It just didn't happen on that first one."

Local competition

Scott Kim of River Edge, N.J. was down by three, but rebounded for a 3-and-2 win over Long Island Junior Amateur champion Will Bernstein of New York City Friday in the 95th Met Amateur at Nissequogue Golf Club . . . Allison Micheletti said on Facebook that her dad, Joe, the Rangers' TV analyst, caddied for her this week at the Tennessee Open . . . Local pros still are impressed with Quaker Ridge head pro Rick Vershure, who qualified for the U.S. Senior Open -- held this year at the Lake Orion, Mich., course on which he grew up -- but lost his chance to play because he called a penalty on himself. Vershure reported that his irons (a backup set that he usually uses for practice) might not conform to U.S. Golf Association standards. The USGA tested them, after the event, and found them nonconforming.

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