Military veterans, including the 70 Baseball Hall of Fame members who put their celebrated baseball careers on hold to serve, received a special honor Saturday.
The US Navy christened the USS Cooperstown in New York City. The National Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, New York.
Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, and George Sisler are just a few of the Hall of Famers who fought in World War I. Other notable players include Ted Williams, who flew 37 combat missions in World War II and Korea.
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The newly commissioned USS Cooperstown joins the active fleet as the latest littoral combat ship of the Freedom variant.
According to the Department of Defense, LCS ships are «fast, optimally manned, mission-adapted surface combatants that operate in near-shore and open-ocean environments.»
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Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Joe Torre were present at the ceremony.
«I can’t begin to tell you what an honor it will be to represent the Hall of Fame,» Bench told USA Today.
«It’s going to be unbelievable, unbelievable. You look at guys like Ted Williams, Bob Feller and Jerry Coleman, who gave up all those years of their careers and lives to enlist and fight for our freedom.»
Bench’s father served in the military for eight years.
In addition to Williams, legendary baseball players who served in World War II include Bob Feller, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Stan Musial, and Jackie Robinson.
Robison was a four-sport athlete in college, served in the military, and broke the color barrier in baseball.
Legendary Chicago Cubs infielder and 24-time MLB All-Star Willie May are among those who served in Korea. Mays was a teammate with Bobby Bonds in San Francisco, where the two became close friends. Bobby’s son, Barry Bonds, broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.
The young Bonds’ baseball career was marred by controversy, largely due to allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. He has not been elected to the Hall of Fame.
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Staterooms on the 351-foot-long ship will be named after Hall of Famers. The motto of the USS Cooperstown is «America’s Away Team».