They are a select few. They are the royalty of baseball. They embody the history and drama of the sport. Their plaques hang in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and many of them believe their induction to the Hall was anything but guaranteed. Despite baseball writers telling them that it was only a matter of time, few took those words as matter-of-fact. For even those Hall of Famers who were told to wait by their phone at an appointed hour, some still were stunned after hearing the news from the Baseball Writers Association of America or the Hall of Fame.The reactions to the call varied, from stoic to overwhelming emotion, but the Hall of Famers all shared at their core a trait - humility. Despite their ferocity and toughness on the field, most Hall of Famers included in this book said the call to inform them of their election sparked reflection, appreciation and gratitude. As one Hall of Famer put it, "You're not just celebrating your career, you're celebrating those who made you what you are, those that touched your life." Interviewing Hall of Famers and studying them individually and as a group brings the realization that the National Baseball Hall of Fame is not just a repository of player biographies and artifacts. It is also a repository for the generations of families who supported and nurtured those who became Hall of Famers and who helped them realize their dreams.
Kevin Warneke has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, magazine editor, public relations executive, CEO of a nonprofit organization and fundraiser. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Dave C. Ogden, a retired professor from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has published extensively about the relationship between African-Americans and baseball. He lives in Pacific Junction, Iowa.