Worth the wait: Cooperstown parade returns after two years

July 24th, 2022
Photo credit: Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Baseball fans received the thrill of a lifetime late Saturday evening when they watched the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends. It marked the first time since 2019 that fans were able to witness such an event, since the pandemic caused the parade to be cancelled in 2020 and ’21.

“It’s so cool. I was saying to my mom before this parade even happened, I’m never going to miss one of these again,” said Patrick Fisher of New Jersey. “This whole experience was so cool. As long as I can squeeze this into my schedule, why would I miss this? It’s so awesome to see this.”

This year’s parade featured some of the greatest players of all time, including David Ortiz and Jim Kaat, two icons who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

The parade originated at the intersection of Lake Street and Chestnut Street, then proceeded down Chestnut and onto Main Street before concluding at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Rich Panas, his wife Jennifer, and their two boys, Brady and Bailey, have been going to Hall of Fame Weekend since 1999, and Rich is happy that he could finally be close to the legends on Saturday. His favorite player is Cal Ripken Jr., who was at the parade. To Rich, there was a sense of normalcy during the festivities.

“You are literally 20 feet [from the players], wave and cheer. You hear the fans, rooting and cheering for the players,” said Panas, a Philadelphia native. “I’m excited to see the players, especially some of the old-timers I didn’t see as a kid. It’s pretty neat.”

Fans were thrilled to see the legends again. Hall of Famers such as Johnny Bench and Reggie Jackson received thunderous applause. But nothing topped the loud ovation David Ortiz received.

“Papi, Papi, Papi,” the fans could be heard yelling as Ortiz was riding past them.

“That was so awesome,” Fisher said. “Being a Red Sox fan my whole life, watching Papi finally get immortalized with all the greats, that’s an awesome feeling.”

The fans of Big Papi hail from all over the United States. Michael Vannoy, for example, is from Pittsburgh and he traveled to Cooperstown to see his boyhood hero.

“My dad was older than I am -- he went how long without a Red Sox World Series? Then 2004 changed things [when the Red Sox won the title],” Vannoy said. “I was nine years old then. It was the first time I was able to stay up late and watch baseball. It was a good memory.”

Steven Uribe, a Boston native, enjoyed watching Ortiz help the Red Sox win three championships (’04, ’07, ’13) during his 14 years with the team.

“Beyond baseball, his character, the way he carried himself, the way he represented the city of Boston, I felt proud,” Uribe said about Ortiz.

A great parade with some of the greatest players in the world.