The Hall of Fame Game's demise wasn't mourned by many around the game of baseball. Teams hated it because they lost a day off so they could travel to upstate New York to play an exhibition game in the middle of August, and fans didn't get much out of watching rosters full of backups and minor leaguers playing a game.
The replacement, the Hall of Fame Classic, isn't shaping up to be a memorable occasion either. The first one will be played on Father's Day at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, and the players taking part are pretty short on actual members of the Hall. Bob Feller, Fergie Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Phil Neikro and Brooks Robinson will be there, but the rest of the names aren't ones easily confused with baseball royalty.
In addition to the five Hall of Fame players, the list of former players committed to appear at the game include, Fred Cambria, John Doherty, George Foster, Micah Franklin, Bobby Grich, Steve Grilli, Johnny Grubb, Jim Hannan, Jim Kaat, Jeff Kent, Steve Lyons, Joe Lahoud, Bill Lee, Kevin Maas, Mike Pagliarulo, Ron Robinson, Dennis Rasmussen, Steve Rogers, Rich Surhoff, Anthony Telford, Mike Timlin, Lee Smith and Jon Warden.
Okay, let's say that Grich, Kaat, Kent, Smith and Foster all achieved enough in their careers to be included in something with the Hall of Fame's imprimateur. Some of the others were sturdy journeymen, but a lot of these other guys wouldn't even get invited to their teams' Old-Timers Day.
They aren't clear on which John Doherty is appearing, but it is either a mediocre first baseman from the 70's or a mediocre pitcher from the early 90's. Cambria appeared in six big league games, Franklin had 37 plate appearances and Warden spent one year in the big leagues as a reliever. As for Rich Surhoff, one can only imagine that the invitation to his brother B.J. went to the wrong address, because nothing in his nine game major league career stands out as notable.
The mind boggles at what the game will actually look like. Other than Kent and Timlin, the few guys who actually had primes are long removed from them and there may be call for more ambulances than rural Cooperstown can possibly provide.
Wouldn't getting a big screen and showing a double feature of Major League and The Natural do more to celebrate baseball than watching a game involving these players?