From the time baseball players are very young, they set goals. Put the bat on the ball. Catch a pop-fly. Learn how to throw a curveball. Hit one out of the park. As they grow older and advance into the big leagues, they continue to set goals. Win the pennant or the MVP Award. Hit .300 or strike out 10 batters in a game.
Then there is the ultimate goal. In pro baseball, that is reaching the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Rice and Rickey: This past weekend, two baseball greats achieved their ultimate goal. Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rice was a fearsome hitter for the Boston Red Sox in the 1970s and 80s. He won the MVP in 1977 and helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in 1975 and 1986. In those days, nobody hit the ball harder or farther than Jim Rice. Henderson is considered the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history, playing most of his long career with the Oakland A's. He has 1,406 stolen bases, the most in history. He was an All-Star 10 times and won the World Series with the Oakland A's in 1989 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.
How to get inducted: Obviously, it's not easy for a player to get inducted in to the Hall of Fame. In the long history of this great sport, only 289 individuals are enshrined in Cooperstown. Just 202 of them are former Major League players the others are umpires, managers, executives and players from other pro leagues. After a player is retired for five years, he can be nominated to the Hall of Fame ballot. A panel of baseball writers from around the country votes on whether or not the player should be elected into the Hall of Fame, based on his statistics, his personality and his impact on the sport. It is the highest honor that a baseball player can receive. Only the very best players are inducted, players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Cooperstown: More than any other sport, the Baseball Hall of Fame is honored and respected. It is located in the hills of rural Cooperstown, NY and is a destination that baseball fans love to visit. In addition to honoring the players who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, it serves as a museum to the game's history. The Hall of Fame museum is filled with bats, balls and uniforms that have been used in famous moments throughout baseball. There are uniforms on display from the 1800s and some baseball cards that are just as old. There are seats from old stadiums and artifacts that tell stories about the history of the game.
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