6/20/2012 1:47 P.M. ET

Legends don uniforms again at Hall of Fame Classic

Fisk, Blyleven, Smith among those at annual event in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Hall of Famer Tony Perez signs autographs for fans at the 2012 Hall of Fame Classic.  (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
MLB Alumni News
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Leave it to Carlton Fisk to make a Hall of Fame observation.

Fisk, back in uniform Saturday for the first time in nearly two decades, took one look around the room at his peers and compatriots and issued a wry smile to go with his raw sentiment. Bert Blyleven was across the room, and Phil Niekro was sitting just a few seats away when Fisk let fly.

"Some of these guys are getting really old," said Fisk. "Did you notice that?"

Indeed, the average age skewed a bit old at the Hall of Fame Classic, an exhibition game designed to connect fans to some of their favorite players from prior generations. Fisk was part of a delegation of six Hall of Famers at the event, but he and fellow immortal Eddie Murray elected not to play.

That still left Niekro and Blyleven -- the game's starting pitchers -- as well as Ozzie Smith and Tony Perez, players that need no introduction in Cooperstown or elsewhere. And they were joined by a group of recent retirees and old-time veterans eager to get back between the lines.

"We're just going out there to play, and hopefully you don't get injured," said Murray before the game. "We do have people here who can play, and I don't know when was the last time they played. It's supposed to be a fun thing ... but I think I may have more fun signing autographs down the line. I may try to get that one at-bat and go down the line to sign autographs so I can get out of harm's way."

The Classic -- now in its fourth season -- has developed into a popular aspect of one of the Hall's busiest weekends. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum staged a fielding clinic for kids on Friday, and Sunday will bring the annual Family Catch and the Cooperstown Golf Classic.

Some of the players brought their families to celebrate Father's Day, most notably former Pirate Rob Mackowiak. The former utilityman hit two home runs on the day his son was born eight-plus years ago, and he got to spend time in Cooperstown with both his father and his son this weekend.

Fisk, inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2000, will be spending Father's Day alone this year. Fisk said his wife was involved in the opening ceremonies for the Illinois Special Olympics this weekend, and he also said that the closest he comes to coaching is watching his grandson compete.

"I think this is the first time I've had a uniform on since I retired," said Fisk, who was wearing a Hall of Fame jersey. "That's the good thing about my career, and one of the bad things, too. I played until I couldn't play any more. I ran the table on how long a player could play at my position. When I retired, I'd had enough, and I really had no desire to get back on the field, because I know what it takes to get on the field and stay on the field."

All of the competitors in Saturday's game were featured in a Game Day Parade down Main Street, and Dmitri Young managed to repeat as the champion of the pregame Hitting Challenge. Young, sporting a fit physique, held off former teammate Dante Bichette to defend his championship.

Young said that he and Bichette spoke about their children, and he also said that he no longer harbors the hope of a comeback to the big leagues. The former switch-hitter now works as an instructor for youth baseball teams, and he said that he hopes to remain in playing shape even if he stays retired.

"I'm a Type 2 diabetic, and I was on six different medications," said Young, who now can fit into his high school jersey. "And now I'm on one. ... It's easy now. It's just a way of life. I eat smaller and I'm walking and I'm just keeping myself active."

Darrell Evans -- one of five former home run champions in attendance -- said that he was humbled and honored to be invited to the event. Evans, who hit 414 home runs in his career, said that he was pleased that former peer Ron Santo will be inducted to the Hall of Fame posthumously.

"It's just a shame he wasn't in before," said Evans. "As a player, knowing what the other players think about you is the most important thing. Everybody wanted him. He deserved it. The politics? Whatever. We have no control over that. The great thing is that people did know he belonged.

"But I don't think that changes anything -- just the perception of how he was. I'm sure for him, and especially for his family, it will be nice. I know he'll be there when it happens. I hope so."

Blyleven, the crafty old master of the curveball, was visiting Cooperstown for the first time since he'd been inducted to the Hall of Fame last summer, and said that everything was much more relaxed for him this time around. There was no speech to make, and nothing to do beyond pitch again.

Blyleven worked three innings and snapped off a few curveballs Saturday, and he even had to cover first base on one play. The 61-year-old was long gone when Desi Relaford drove home the winning run in the seventh inning, though, and said his life hasn't really changed since his induction.

"I broadcast for the Twins, so it hasn't really changed that much," Blyleven said. "I'm doing less games now, and I'm doing more appearances, and I like that. I like going out and meeting people. I don't know if it's changed, other than when I sign my name on an autographed baseball, I put HOF." This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLBPAA Events
July 7, 2016: Las Vegas Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 8, 2016: Huntington Beach Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 8, 2016: Compton Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 9, 2016: Lodi Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit A.A. Stagg High School.
July 10, 2016: San Diego Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 21, 2016: Boston Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 13, 2016: San Diego Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 15, 2016: Temecula Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 15, 2016: Cincinnati Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 16, 2016: Worcester Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 18, 2016: Waipahu Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 19, 2016: Hilo Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 20, 2016: Lihue Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 20, 2016: Stillwater Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 21, 2016: Little Rock Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 21, 2016: Wailuku Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 23, 2016: North Chicago Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 25, 2016: New York Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 26, 2016: Baton Rouge Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 27, 2016: Cincinnati Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 27, 2016: Baltimore Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
July 30, 2016: Springfield Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 30, 2016: Danbury Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
July 30, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 4, 2016: Annapolis Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 5, 2016: Phoenix Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Aug. 6, 2016: Basalt Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 7, 2016: Toronto Coaches Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 8, 2016: Welland Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 13, 2016: Brooklyn Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 18, 2016: North Carolina Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Aug. 20, 2016: Atlanta Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Aug. 27, 2016: Boston Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
August 27, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Aug. 30, 2016: Arlington Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Sept. 2, 2016: Denver Alumni Day
The Alumni Day Series consists of a pre-game reception hosted at Major League Baseball Stadiums and includes two free tickets for each former player and their guest.
Sept. 11-12, 2016: Lake Charles Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA.
Sept. 23, 2016: Jacksonville Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Florida.
Sept. 24, 2016: Jacksonville Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
September 24, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Oct. 13, 2016: Fort Worth Fundraiser
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA Legends for Youth Clinic Series.
October 29, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Nov. 15, 2016: Legends for Youth Dinner
This MLBPAA fundraising event will benefit the MLBPAA Legends for Youth Clinic Series.
November 26, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
December 31, 2016: Visalia Clinic
Legends for Youth Clinics allow the nation's youth to learn from baseball's all-time greats.
Complete Event Schedule