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Legends hit links ahead of HOF Ceremony

Traditional round of golf part of annual festivities in Cooperstown
MLB.com @mlbbowman

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- As some of baseball's legends and top executives hit the links on Saturday morning, they were joined by Chi Chi Rodriguez, the beloved golf legend. Rodriguez came to Cooperstown this weekend to celebrate his good friend and fellow Puerto Rican Pudge Rodriguez's induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

"He's the best catcher of all time," the 81-year-old member of the World Golf Hall of Fame said. "I'm here -- and I'll come for Carlos Beltran when he gets here, because they are both good people."

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- As some of baseball's legends and top executives hit the links on Saturday morning, they were joined by Chi Chi Rodriguez, the beloved golf legend. Rodriguez came to Cooperstown this weekend to celebrate his good friend and fellow Puerto Rican Pudge Rodriguez's induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

"He's the best catcher of all time," the 81-year-old member of the World Golf Hall of Fame said. "I'm here -- and I'll come for Carlos Beltran when he gets here, because they are both good people."

Carrying on a tradition annually staged the day before the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, new and past inductees gathered at the Otesaga Resort's Leatherstocking Golf Course to share a round of golf with each other and relatives. Just one of the foursomes included golf royalty.

:: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

"I've known Chi Chi for a while," said Pudge. "He's the first person to put a club in my hand, a long time ago. He was still [competing in PGA Tour Champions events]. We met in Puerto Rico. Since that day, we've become good friends."

As Tim Raines attempted to deal with some of the nerves he will feel leading up to being inducted on Sunday, he shared his round of golf with longtime Expos teammate and now fellow Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. Raines said he has been humbled by the opportunity to be surrounded by baseball's other greats during this weekend's festivities.

"This is the pinnacle of baseball," Raines said. "When you're a kid, you strive to be a Major Leaguer. And then, when you become a Major Leaguer, you strive to win a World [Series] championship. Then, you hope your career lasts long enough that you put up the numbers that allow you to come here."

Though there were certainly some competitive juices flowing, this golf outing was not set up as a tournament -- thus no official scores were posted. Before he teed off, Tom Glavine said this was going to be one of those rare days when he would beat good friend and former Braves teammate John Smoltz, who once aspired to play on the PGA Tour Champions.

Glavine deservedly felt pretty good about the 74 he posted. But despite lipping out a few putts, Smoltz still checked in with a 73. This matched the score posted by George Brett, who -- like the two aforementioned former Cy Young Award winners -- had the privilege of winning a World Series under the direction of John Schuerholz, the revered former general manager of the Braves and Royals who will also be inducted as part of this year's Hall of Fame class.

Schuerholz enjoyed Saturday's round with his longtime Braves manager Bobby Cox, who joined Glavine and Greg Maddux as part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class.

"This morning, [my round] was horrendous. This afternoon, it was spectacular," Schuerholz said. "When I made the turn, on the back nine, I relaxed. Bobby Cox kept talking to me and counseling me about that. I got in my game and played quite well."

MLB Network's exclusive live coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony -- simulcast live on MLB.com -- will begin with MLB Tonight on Sunday at noon ET, followed by the ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Prior to Sunday's live coverage, MLB Network will televise the 2017 Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 11 a.m., featuring Rachel Robinson (Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award), Claire Smith (the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for writers) and the posthumous honoring of Bill King (Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters). The presentation will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the film, "A League of Their Own."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.