Major League Baseball began a new season with three games Sunday. The rest of the league will start play Monday. But this spring marks the final steps of one fan’s epic journey to honor the game — a man and the game of baseball that are on a one-of-a-kind adventure.
The ball Ralph Carhart has taken to 33 states isn’t much to look at. His wife pulled it out of a creek, near the Baseball Hall of Fame and Carhart got it in his head to take a photo of the ball with every Hall of Famer.
“I had no concept seven years ago about what this was going to mean, how long it was going to take, how much travel I was going to have to do,” Carhart told CBS News.
Thirty-seven thousand miles so far, by road and air, has yielded 300 pictures.
Some including Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson … Cal Ripken Junior and Ozzie Smith.
Most Hall of Famers are deceased, so Carhart drove to Boise, Idaho, to find Harmen Killibrew’s gravesite. Babe Ruth took him to Hawthorne, New York. Ted Williams’ picture: at the cryogenics lab where William’s head is preserved.
“Not every interaction with the living guys is great,” Carhart tells CBS News. “Some of them just don’t understand why I would do such a thing.”
Carhart laughs over a Tommy Lasorda photo.
“Umm, that photo says it all,” Carhart said. “But the ones who do get it, Wade Boggs was another one, who got it, who thought it was really neat. Lou Brock kept me there for about 10 minutes. I took the first couple of photos and he didn’t like the way he looked, so I had to keep taking photos of him until he really liked his hair.”
Carhart doesn’t ask for autographs, which confuses some players, and sets his project apart.
“There are probably a number of other people out there, in fact I know some, who have tried to get autographs of all the Hall of Famers but this is a little different,” Steve Hirdt of Elias Sports Bureau told CBS News. “And this sounds like something nobody has ever done before.”
Last week, Carhart visited Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey, to honor Monte Irvin — the Negro league star who doesn’t have a gravesite, but played at the field.
“Thanks, Monte,” Carhart said.
That leaves 16 more pictures to take. Then Carhart hopes to return the ball to where he found it.
“I wanted to create something that would be in the Hall of Fame and hopefully they accept the ball when I’m done with the project and I can take my kids there and say, look, dad made that,” Carhart said.