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CITGO sign makes Hall of Fame

CITGO sign makes Hall of Fame

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There is a famous image emblazoned in the mind of any baseball fan who has seen a replay of Carlton Fisk's famous home run in Game Six of the 1975 World Series. But it's a more subtle one than that of Fisk physically willing his ball fair under the lights at Fenway Park.

It's the CITGO sign towering over the Green Monster, a silent sentry to one of baseball's most memorable moments. It is fitting then, that a CITGO sign will now be housed at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which honors moments such as the Fisk home run.

Executives from the Museum and CITGO Petroleum Corporation, along with Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver and Venezuelan former star shortstop Dave Concepción, were on hand Tuesday to dedicate a CITGO sign in the Museum's Grandstand Theater. The sign, approximately three feet by three feet and located beyond the left-field grandstand, is a visual representation of the intensive relationship the two organizations entered into this January.

"As you can see, the CITGO sign played a role in a big moment in baseball history," said Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey, as he gestured to a big-screen photo of the Fisk homer. "And now, the very visible sign here in our Grandstand Theater also shows that we are great friends with CITGO."

The planned five-year initiative will honor and explore Latino baseball. While a national touring exhibit will make museum rounds in 2007, a smaller panel exhibit has been touring this summer, winding its way to 10 MLB stadiums across the country. Key Hall of Fame documents, and all the Hall of Fame plaques on the Web site, will be translated into Spanish. Additionally, an exchange program will serve to foster collaboration and cohesion between curators at Cooperstown and their counterparts at the Caribbean and Latin American halls of fame.

CITGO is the American subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The sponsorship, and this permanent visual representation of it, is dear to the heart of Felix Rodriguez, CITGO's president and CEO.

"I'm very amazed and emotional for this time," Rodriguez said at Tuesday's dedication. "I remember when I was a child, I played baseball for only a short time because I was sickly. But baseball is part of the culture and part of life in Venezuela. CITGO is very proud at this time because we're becoming a team with the Hall of Fame and making a good effort for a long time."

The CITGO sign in the Grandstand Theater is the third significant one to be placed in a baseball context. In addition to the famous Fenway sign, another is located in Houston's Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros.

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