Raul Ibanez will never be enshrined in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, New York, when his career comes to an end, but that doesn't mean the veteran left-fielder can't make a bit of history there.
The Phillies free agent, who just wrapped up his three-year contract with the team last month, became the first Major League player in history to spend a night in the Plaque Gallery at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. That privilege came about not because he is a big league player, but because of his son, Raul Jr.
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.
I've been to the Hall of Fame, and I can honestly say that I've never wanted to spend the night there, but it's a fun story, especially for Raul Jr. and his teammates. Instead of looking up at the stars as they drifted off to sleep, they got to stare up at the bronzed faces of Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, and Honus Wagner. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
It must have been a particularly exciting moment for Ibanez. Not only did he get to have a nightcap in the same institution that celebrates our National Pastime, but he got to do it with his son. He also go to hold the bat that Hall of Famer (and greatest hitter of all time, if you ask me) Ted Williams used to hit the final home run of his career.
All told, it's a pretty wild way to spend a Friday night.