The Baseball Hall of Love.

The stadium scene.
Jan. 6 2004 6:10 PM

My Own Private Cooperstown

Jack Voigt! Cleon Jones! Immortalize your idols in the Baseball Hall of Love.

(Continued from Page 1)

In the Hall of Love, there is no such thing as failure, really, only thwarted success. Jose DeLeon was "[m]uch better than his W-L record indicated." Vic Davalillo "would have been the 1963 Rookie of the Year had he not broken his arm." Von Hayes "[n]ever received the respect he rightly deserved."

The sponsor of Nick Esasky, an ex-Red, writes, "Anyone who mocks him as a 'free agent bust' doesn't understand the seriousness of vertigo—imagine trying to hit a 95 mph fastball immediately after being spun around the teacup ride at the fair. God bless you, Nick."

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Some of the best Hall of Love messages simply speak up for the players, such as they were. Rob Deer's citation just says "The Three True Outcomes of baseball"—a nod to Deer's uncanny talent for producing non-team-dependent events: home runs, walks, and strikeouts.

The Hall of Love feels like it could happen only to baseball. Unlike basketball or football, every baseball player, no matter how inadequate, gets his moment at bat or on the mound. And that includes your guy—the guy who only you can properly appreciate.

Perhaps the most eloquent Hall of Love entry comes from someone named Bill Elenbark. His homage to an itinerant infielder transcends one man's career—it produces a sort of koan about the souls who batted after the cleanup hitter and before the leadoff man. "Between something and nothing," he writes, "there was Kevin Seitzer."

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