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Game called off, but players enjoy visit to Hall of Fame

By John Kekis
Associated Press
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. ó Chicago Cubs outfielder Jim Edmonds didnít get to play in the final Hall of Fame Game. He was more than happy to make the trip, though.
iI got an unbelievable tour of the Hall of Fame. Iím blown away,î Edmonds said Monday, just before severe thunderstorms pelted historic Doubleday Field with a drenching rain and hail, forcing cancellation of the game. iI think all the anticipation of having a rough day of travel in the middle of the season ó itís all worth it once you get here.
iIt would be nice if you could enjoy it more, be here on an off-day or a complete week. Itís still special.î
Despite a determined effort to play the game between the Cubs and San Diego Padres, the storms packed too much rain and more storms were predicted later in the afternoon.
Hall of Fame officials canceled the game shortly after 2:30 p.m., just after a moment of silence for NBC political journalist Tim Russert, who died of a heart attack Friday while preparing for his weekly iMeet the Pressî show. Russert was a member of the Hallís board of directors.
The sellout crowd of nearly 10,000 was eligible for a full refund. This was to be the final edition of a tradition that began in 1940.
iThe game is a good thing,î said San Diego ace Greg Maddux, a certain Hall of Famer once he retires. iWhen you look at the schedule in spring training, youíre like, ëOh, thatís a day we donít want to go.í But once youíre here, youíre kind of glad youíre here. For me, itís a great place to spend an off-day. The older you get and the more you play, the more you appreciate it.î
Major League Baseball announced in late January that the Hall of Fame Game was ending because of scheduling problems. It was the last remaining exhibition game on the major league schedule.
The unpopular decision was still fresh on the mind of Rich and Lou Aspell of San Diego, who made their first trip to Cooperstown just for the game.
iI think itís great for baseball,î said Rich, a batboy for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1960s. iI donít think they should discontinue it. I understand that it doesnít count in the standings and the guys are worried about getting injured. But by the same token, itís good for baseball.î
Puffy white clouds and blue skies preceded the storms, and thousands turned out for the traditional parade before the game, jamming the sidewalks of Main Street eight deep in front of the Hall of Fame.
They came to soak in the moment, be a part of something that has been very special.
iItís a great tradition,î said 44-year-old Rich Bolin of St. Josephís, Mich. iThey should keep it going ó baseball, hot dogs, apple pie.î

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