It's time to talk about fame again.
Real fame that comes with real greatness. The National Baseball Hall of Fame. The annual pause on the calendar when millions of fans eagerly find out which bronze plaques will be hung in immortality on the walls of a hallowed gallery in the magnificent little New York hamlet of Cooperstown.
For the third year in a row, the announcement will happen right here during the MLB.com Hall of Fame Election Show, beginning on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. At 2 p.m., Hall president Dale Petroskey will be in Manhattan at the MLB.com studio to make the live announcement of the voting results by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The question last year was whether Petroskey would have any names to utter, and whether it would be the first voting shutout in 10 years. Then a massive audience of MLB.com users watched him say:
"It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- with the largest number of ballots ever cast -- have elected Bruce Sutter, the outstanding relief pitcher of the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves."
Now the question is whether it will be more than simply the seventh class featuring multiple first-ballot inductees. Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., who played in a combined 31 All-Star Games, are widely considered first-ballot locks by the BBWAA constituency. Will four-time home run champ Mark McGwire get the required 75 percent of votes as well, or did voters choose to also ignore the past? Will a Jim Rice or Goose Gossage -- tantalizingly close in 2006 -- get over the hump this time?
The MLB.com Hall of Fame Election Show is the hub for this traditional moment of truth. The show is hosted by Casey Stern and Billy Sample, and it will feature:
A preview of the candidates, including profiles on nine former players: Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Gossage, Gwynn, McGwire, Rice, Ripken, Bret Saberhagen and Lee Smith.
An intimate look at the Hall of Fame and why it is such an honor to be enshrined. Mickey Mantle said during his 1974 induction speech that he was probably the first inductee who was named after a Hall of Famer: Mickey Cochrane. It is indeed the standard for so many others' halls of fame, and the technology behind its 2007 announcement continues to make it an attraction to more and more people.
A glimpse into possible induction classes of the future.
A fond farewell to those legends who were lost in 2006, including Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.
As a reminder of why so many people will be here for the MLB.com Hall of Fame Election Show, just recall these lasting words that Puckett left fans during his induction speech on Aug. 5, 2001:
"I wanted to play baseball ever since I was five years old. And I want you to remember the guiding principles of my life: You can be what you want to be. If you believe in yourself, and you work hard because anything, and I'm telling you anything, is possible. It doesn't matter if you're 5-foot-8 like Kirby Puckett or you're 6-foot-6 like my man Winnie [Hall classmate Dave Winfield], you can do it. And don't feel sorry for yourself if obstacles get in your way. Our great Twins World Series teams faced odds, and we beat 'em. Jackie Robinson faced odds and made this game truly the national game. ...
"We call it the national game because of its great and unique history. And it doesn't matter where you came from. From the projects like me, in Chicago, or the gated communities of Beverly Hills. And because it doesn't matter what race, creed or national origin you are: black, white, Hispanic, Japanese, or whatever. It just matters how you play the game. And I played it with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might. I played the game and tried to live my life in a way that would make the people that I love and care about proud."
At least a couple of his contemporaries are likely to have their turn at the podium next summer. It's time to talk about fame again and find out exactly which names go to the Gallery walls next.