Fifty-six-year-old John Werner of Newark, Delaware, has been a tour guide with Sports Travel and Tours for 15 years and has plenty of stories to show for it. Some of his favorite memories were made in Cooperstown, New York, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
On one occasion, John met Dave Winfield, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who played for four different teams including the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. The two sat together on Main Street for a quick moment.
“I got my picture taken with him. I said something to the effect of, ‘I enjoy watching you play the game. You have tremendous talent,’ John recalls. “And then I walked away. I didn’t bother him after that. It’s just that, in that moment, there was no one else bothering him, so I did.”
On a separate trip, John had his photo taken with six Hall of Fame baseball players. He says it was a thrill to meet each of them and shake their hands.
John is excited to return to Cooperstown as a tour guide for the annual Hall of Fame Induction weekend July 24-27.
This year, Sports Travel and Tours is offering four different trips that will converge at Cooperstown for the induction ceremony: East Coast Classic, Induction Plus, Boston Induction Special and Boston Induction Extravaganza.
Four players will be inducted this year: second baseman Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros, pitcher Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners, pitcher Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox and pitcher John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves.
“At heart, I’m a baseball fan, and I enjoy being around baseball people,” John says simply. “You meet an awful lot of good baseball people on these trips.”
John first got involved with Sports Travel and Tours as a traveler, when he went on a six-stadium trip on the West Coast in the late 1990s. Finding that he wanted to be more directly involved, he talked to company president Jay Smith about being a tour guide. A high school teacher of business education in Wilmington, Delaware, John says that working as a tour guide was an entirely new experience for him.
John mostly supervises trips on the East Coast in areas like Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., though he also goes on trips in cities like Atlanta, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
The big induction weekend will start with a reception and group dinner for all the travelers on Friday, July 24. On Saturday, travelers will tour the Hall of Fame, watch the Hall of Fame parade and attend an additional Hall of Fame ceremony at historic Doubleday Field.
John says that his favorite part of the weekend is on Saturday when Hall of Famers are signing autographs on Main Street. John hopes to see Willie Mays of the New York Giants, his favorite Hall of Famer and the greatest player of all time, in his opinion. Because of the amazing events he gets to experience, John says working for Sports Travel and Tours is his dream job.
John also enjoys seeing the Sports Travel and Tours Stadium Hall of Fame inductions on the years when that ceremony is held for participants who have visited 30 stadiums with the organization.
“Saturday in Cooperstown is like Christmas Day,” John says. “It’s the best day of the year.”
For some of the travelers, Hall of Fame induction weekend will mark their first trip to Cooperstown. John says there is always a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from travelers when they’re able to tour the museum and see their favorite players.
“It’s a blast,” John says. “I enjoy every moment I get to spend in Cooperstown.”