ASHLAND, Ky. – When it comes right down to it, Saturdays in August for me are both exhilarating and exhausting.
Whether it’s a 36-team Amy For Africa wiffleball tournament or the CP-1 Hall of Fame inductions, they both rate as two of my favorite Saturdays of the year.
They both take preparation and keen attention to detail.
I was asked by a reporter (now there’s a change for me) what my motivation was for the CP-1 Hall of Fame ceremonies on Saturday.
It’s simple and described in one word: joy.
It’s the joy on the faces of the inductees.
It’s the joy on the faces of their families and friends.
It’s the joy that comes when people begin pouring into Central Park’s big diamond (yes, that’s CP-1) about 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time. Some of them haven’t seen each other since the last time we met for a CP-1 reunion.
It’s all pure joy and that’s my motivation.
As a respecter of history, it’s important that we not only recognize our past but that we celebrate it. That’s what we did Saturday in Central Park where 13 more were inducted into our Hall of Fame.
The speeches from the 10 living inductees and the three deceased inductees who had family speaking for them were emotional and thankful. You don’t think it’s going to get you and then it does.
A poignant moment came when Terry Hemlepp, who was speaking for Steve Hemlepp, brought up two of Steve’s grandsons for a closing story. We were able to present them with the plaque and commemorative baseball.
Another was Tim Huff emotionally thanking his father for making him the player he became and Joe Conley humbling breaking down while speaking.
Or inductee Johnny Mullins, bad back and all, standing behind teammate Bo Carter as he spoke last. It was extra emotionally charged for Bo because he buried his dear mother and spoke at her funeral only a week ago.
We missed Ginny Carter on Saturday, but Bo was certain she had a front row seat for the show. I have to agree.
As a special tribute to Ginny Carter, we passed out maroon-tipped carnations to every woman in the audience that wanted one and gave a single red rose to her daughter and caregiver Susie Carter. It was another moment full of emotion.
Moms and baseball: Does it get better?
We heard from the daughter of an umpire, Dale Griffith, and Marla Haller made sure her daddy was represented in the most proper way possible. As Charlie Reliford so eloquently put it in an emailed message, putting Dale Griffith in the Hall of Fame was certainly a great call.
Each of the inductees spoke from the heart and it was beautiful.
Brothers Kevin and Mike Gothard thanked their parents, Denny and Helen, for always being there and always teaching them not just how to play baseball, but how to be good people.
Pride took a backseat to saying thank you for always being there for us. The inductees thanked parents, coaches, friends and teammates.
Each class we’ve been able to honor has been unique and special and the couple of hundred who witnessed Saturday’s ceremony will remember this one.
What Gary Wright started 10 years ago with a $125,000 donation to revamp and rebuild the baseball field at Central Park has turned into a reason to make another trip to the ‘ol ball field something special.
That happened for the inductees and their families on a sunny day in Central Park on Saturday.