For Steve Tatro of Bellingham, Washington, Ken Griffey Jr. is the greatest baseball player of his generation. Steve remembers following the former Seattle Mariners centerfielder in the minor leagues when he was in college, and the stops he made in Bellingham at Joe Martin Field.
So, in the months leading up to Griffey’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, this year, Steve knew he wanted to witness the ceremony in person, no matter what.
Steve stumbled across Sports Travel and Tours online, and saved enough money for him and his 20-year-old daughter Skylar, a fellow baseball fan, to participate in a Hall of Fame weekend travel package. As part of the trip, Steve and Skylar attended “Ump’s Eye View,” a private lunch session with retired American league and major league baseball umpire Al Clark.
Steve and Skylar sat around a table with six other devoted baseball fans, all of whom had traveled from Washington for the ceremony, as Al spoke about his experience as an umpire rising through the ranks of minor league, winter league and major league games.
“He had such an infectious laugh and was really engaging,” Steve remembers. “If you mentioned the name of a player—Gaylord Perry, Ricky Henderson, Randy Johnson, you name it—he had a story. His recollections were so vivid he was really able to bring each game to life.”
Of course, Al had stories about Ken Griffey Jr., too.
“He talked about Ken Griffey Jr. and his father, Ken Griffey Sr., who was also a ball player with the Cincinnati Reds,” Steve says. “Al said the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.”
Looking back, Steve describes “Ump’s Eye View” as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It was great to start off the trip by talking baseball, sitting with other fans and getting a perspective on the game from somebody behind the plate, rather than in front of it,” Steve says.
Throughout the rest of the weekend, Steve and Skylar visited the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where they saw such things as stadium artifacts and World Series rings from every year. “Skylar’s favorite piece was the actual letter from Lou Gehrig’s doctor that stated he was no longer physically able to play the game due to the illness that has since been named after him,” Steve says.
“The whole weekend, from Ump’s Eye View to the museum, you got a feel for how baseball intertwines in American history,” Steve says.
The two also watched the Parade of Legends, where Hall of Famers paraded through Cooperstown on pick-up trucks, giving fans a chance to see them up close. It all led up to the moment all the travelers had been waiting for—the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Sunday.
“The speeches by inductees were so heartfelt and genuine,” Steve says. “It will be something I remember for the rest of my life, and, hopefully, my daughter will too. We can look back and say we did that together.”
Steve says experiencing the Hall of Fame induction is something any baseball fan should put on their bucket list. Learn more about Sports Travel and Tours’ trips to upcoming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.