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Pipeline to Cooperstown

Former Cubs and Athletics player Billy Williams is one of many Hall of Fame players from Mobile, Ala. (Associated Press)
Former Cubs and Athletics player Billy Williams is one of many Hall of Fame players from Mobile, Ala. (Associated Press)

Reggie Jackson was dining with a couple of other future Hall of Famers one spring training in Arizona.

The young slugger hit it off well with Willie McCovey and Billy Williams, except for one thing.

“They said the only thing that was wrong with me was that I wasn’t from Mobile,” Jackson said.

McCovey and Williams were. So are plenty of other baseball greats – from Hank Aaron to Satchel Paige to Ozzie Smith.

They’re all Hall of Famers and all from Alabama’s port city, which has the most players enshrined per capita. The legacy was evident Wednesday when Aaron’s childhood home, now a museum, was officially dedicated at Mobile’s minor league Hank Aaron Stadium.

Ozzie Smith and Aaron were there. So was fellow Alabama native Willie Mays, along with four other Hall of Famers from out of state.

“We like to joke that there must be a river that runs from Cooperstown to Mobile because of all the Mobilians in the Hall of Fame, more than any other city in America,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. “When you take the whole state of Alabama, you have nine from the whole state in Cooperstown. Baseball must be fairly prevalent here.”

Jackson marvels at the formidable presence in Cooperstown for the city of about 200,000.

“You guys have got an All-Star team,” he said. Then he noted: “They all play right field.”

Not all of them. Smith is regarded as one of the greatest defensive shortstops of all-time, and finished up 727 homers shy of Aaron’s 755. Paige was a flamboyant, fireballer of a pitcher. McCovey belted 521 homers in a 22-year career mostly spent with the San Francisco Giants. Williams hit 426 homers with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics.

For those counting at home, that’s 1,702 combined home runs for the three sluggers from Mobile.

Clearing the bases

Left-hander Brett Anderson and the Oakland Athletics agreed to a $12.5 million, four-year contract that could be worth $31 million over six seasons. … The New York Yankees have decided to be cautious with Chan Ho Park, placing the reliever on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury.