It’s a pretty cool story – via the good folks at Cooperstown –
Shortly after sunrise on a cold November Saturday morning in Cooperstown, Raul Ibanez reached down to high-five his 11-year-old son, Raul Jr., upon learning of his history-making Friday night.
Though the 2011 major league season had concluded a week earlier, Ibanez was all smiles in learning that he had just become the first major league player in history – active or retired – to spend the night in the famed Plaque Gallery at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“RJ, we are a part of history,” father Raul explained to son.
On Friday night, RJ and his teammates from the Lower Merion (PA) Little League travel team participated in the Museum’s “Extra Innings Overnight” program in Cooperstown. More than 40 kids and parents had an exclusive experience to learn more about baseball’s history, see the game’s priceless treasures through artifact presentations and watch baseball-themed films before calling it a night in sleeping bags on the floor of the hallowed Hall.
Among the bronze plaques of the 295 players, managers, umpires and executives who have earned the highest honor in the game’s history, Ibanez and his son were fans for a night, in awe of the Hall of Fame. The morning after, they were wide-eyed from this special program that allows fans a chance to “sleep over” at the Hall of Fame during the fall and winter months.
“It was an amazing experience,” Raul Sr. said. “We will have memories that will last forever with my son out of this. He’ll be 50 one day and we’ll be talking about this visit to Cooperstown.”
The fact that Ibanez was able to achieve the milestone with his son was more than just part of the story on this November night: It was the reason the father-son duo traveled together to Cooperstown. The Ibanezes spend quality time while participating in evening programs in the Museum, sharing stories and laughs, before falling asleep in the enclaves of the Gallery, with the plaques of baseball heroes above them, dreaming of baseball greatness.
“It was really fun,” said Raul Jr. “I enjoyed everything about it. It’s pretty cool to sleep in the Hall of Fame Gallery. This was something our team wanted to do together. It was great for us to be able to visit the Hall of Fame as a team.”