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The greatest club of all time


By Todd Jones - SportingNews


Not too many of us in baseball get to hang out with a Hall of Famer on a regular basis, but we Marlins have that rare opportunity with Tony Perez.


Tony, who is a special assistant to general manager Admin Beinfest, gets in uniform, shags balls during B.P. and talks with us. Mostly, he's just "Doggy." That was his nickname when he played, and it's the coolest nickname I've heard. Tony got that handle because he was everybody's best friend, a guy who got along with all of his teammates.


Tony and the other Hall of Famers I've had the honor of talking to all say they really enjoy Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown. Baseball's greatest living players cherish the time they can spend together.



In fact, they gathered just last weekend to welcome the newest inductees, catch up with each other and take part in a great celebration of the sport. It was their annual class reunion, only this class boasts Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as members.


One thing I've learned is that what Hall of Famers say carries a lot of weight, so they often are guarded with their comments in public settings. If it's just them, though, they can relax, be themselves, joke around and tell stories about each other. They don't have to worry about some guy with a tape recorder sitting in the crowd looking for a scoop. They can take a break from the autograph seekers who are in pursuit of a potentially lucrative signature.


It had to be a surreal feeling for this year's Hall newcomers, Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg, as they hung out with the game's legends as well as contemporaries such as Robin Yount and Dennis Eckersley.


They might even have heard a voice saying to them, "Hey, rookie, bring me another bottle of wine." That voice might have belonged to Mays or Aaron or Bob Feller. If so, the newbies would have had to drop what they were doing and fetch whatever the voice wanted. After all, Boggs and Sandberg indeed are rookies -- on the greatest club of all time.


Todd Jones is a reliever for the Marlins. E-mail him at tjones@sportingnews.com.

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