On Saturday night at Tropicana Field, the past mingled with the present and looked to the future as the Ted Williams Foundation along with David Price’s Project One Four Foundation gathered to honor this years inductees to the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. Also honored was a group of individuals who are near and dear to me, the Venice High School Baseball team.
The Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame was founded by Sam Tamposi and Gerald Nash and first opened its doors in 1994. It was the first museum to honor a living person and quickly expanded to include the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame! It was the Splendid Splinter’s passion for hitting which fueled this idea. Ted articulated his vision and hope for this unique aspect of an already unique idea. “Through the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, we hope to build a lasting monument, an architectural tribute to what I think is the single most difficult thing in all of sports: hitting a baseball. We hope the Museum will become a place millions of baseball fans will visit and enjoy for generations to come.”
Originally located in Hernando Florida, this sleepy little central Florida community became baseball’s focal point each February as baseball and other sports luminaries gathered to pay homage to Ted’s chosen ones.
Following Ted’s passing, the museum floundered and finally had to close its Hernando doors. However through the tireless efforts of the museum’s executive director Dave McCarthy and the generosity and vision of the Tampa Bay Rays ownership, the Museum and Hall of Fame found a home and is flourishing once again.
Ted Williams Museum Executive Director Dave McCarthy at the podium Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Joining with Cy Young Award winner David Price and his One Four Foundation, for the second year, the spirit of relationships and giving back, which was embodied in Ted himself, was palpable throughout the evening.
As each inductee took to the podium, to a man they spoke about relationships. Relationships cultivated in a big league clubhouse, on baseball diamonds throughout the country and indeed beyond. From the stirring introduction of Lou Pinella from Ray Negron of the New York Yankees to David Price’s unabashed tribute to his now former teammate and forever friend James Shields, the night screamed of relationships forged, nurtured and cherished.
And the tone of the evening was about giving back and in so doing investing in the future, our kids!
So it was with great pride that I listened to Rays announcer and the evening’s MC Dewayne Staats acknowledge the 2012 7A State Champion Venice High School Baseball team. “The motto of the Venice High School Baseball team is excellence on and off the field” he began and he spoke of their ‘highest GPA of any public school team in Florida’s 7A division, their work as reading mentors and with the Little League Challenger Program. And for one last time a special group of young men and those who guide them savored a moment in time in their young lives, a moment shared with the games all time greats, and the superstar pitcher of today. A superstar pitcher who too is driven to excellence on and off the field.
Saturday night at Tropicana Field the past mingled with the present and looked toward the future. Ahhhh, May I Hope!
Funny how it all keeps coming back to relationships.