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ture Hall of Famer Chief Bender picked up a reputation as the best golfer in the American League. According to Ryne Sandberg, now the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, “At the end of the day, the more work you put in, the harder you apply yourself, and the better concentration and focus you have, the better golfer or baseball player you will be. There’s no better feeling than hitting a 300-yard drive.” The long-time second baseman of the Chicago Cubs likes the Leatherstocking course. “It has the feel of an old-time course,” he says. “It goes with the feel of Cooperstown; it’s a little nostalgic.” Palmer once won the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend tournament by distracting his closest competitor, the newly-elected Fingers. “We were neck-and-neck going into the 13th or 14th hole,” Palmer recalled, “so I asked him what he was going to talk about in his speech. He hit the next one out of bounds.” Fans seeking pictures and autographs gather to watch the stars play from a distance but are prohibited from stepping foot on the links during the tournament. Among the Babe Ruth golf trophies on display in the Hall of Fame is a tiny piece given by the St. Albans Golf Club for a hole-in-one on April 11, 1940. “I used a No. 3 wood and that ball scooted for the hole like one of Carl Hubbell’s fast ones for the plate,” Ruth recalled. While Ruth enjoyed playing, Ty Cobb considered good golf a personal necessity – especially against the fun-loving Ruth. Cobb best Ruth in a bestof-three USO fundraiser in 1941 and cherished the victory. “I’m beginning
to take it more seriously than those 12 batting titles I won,” he said. Both Cobb and Ruth benefitted from blue laws that kept ballparks shuttered on Sundays – giving them more time on the links. Today’s ballplayer-golfers have tighter schedules. Rest assured, however, that they will be on the links of the Otsego Golf Club during the last full weekend of July. That’s when the elite of the baseball world show they can swing a mean golf club too. Founded in 1894, the Leatherstocking course has maintained a nine-hole format since 1907. The original course design is retained only in the first hole but none of the famous athletes complain. They’re all having too much fun. Baseball writer Dan Schlossberg began writing in his native New Jersey in 1969. He is the author of 37 books, all on baseball, and a contributor to USA TODAY Sports Weekly and MLB.com. E.mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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