Monday, June 16, 2008

The End of a Tradition

[Erik and I at Doubleday Field last July on the ball tour]

Today marks the 69th and final Hall of Fame Game, played annually at historic Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY since 1940, the year after the Hall of Fame opened. Major League Baseball has been slowly removing all of its exhibition games (one of the few blunders by Bud Selig) from the schedule since 2002, and this is the last remaining in-season exhibition played in the Majors, which this year is between the Cubs and Padres. There are still currently pre-season exhibition games played overseas and in Memphis, and even the Civil Rights Game is probably going to end up becoming a regular season game soon, just as part of the Japan series was this year. With today's marketing/revenue demands, distance between teams, and taxing schedules, there is just no time for a small little exhibition game like the Hall of Fame Game, now matter how important it is to a small city like Cooperstown.

This game was originally held on Induction Day until the late 70s and on the day afer Induction Day up until 2002, when it was moved to mid-June. The game has sold out all of its 9500+ seats since its first move in 1978 and has been a great annual tradition in this one-stoplight town. Everyone puts on their biggest smiles and favorite team's jersey to meet all the players at the annual parade down Main Street before the game. Schools in the area even save their last snow day so that all students can have off to attend the day's festivities (why children are even in school in mid-June is beyond me). I'm sure today's big contract players are relieved to not have to play this game anymore, and perhaps it's not worth saving just for the sake of the residents of Cooperstown, but since its inception this game/festivities has been a large funding source for the nearby Hall of Fame, and many veterans/HOF members are left to wonder what will now fill the void of this former revenue source. The Hall of Fame runs mostly on private donations, and hopefully it will continue to sustain itself and constantly improve, along with the game, for years to come. Having been to Cooperstown myself during another big baseball event, the All-Star Game, I know firsthand what baseball and the history of the game means to this town, and I'm sure today will be bittersweet for many folks. This will also sadly be one less baseball event for Erik and I to attend - Hall of Fame Game, you will be missed.
UPDATE: The game was cancelled! After the parade and the ceremonial first pitches it started to pour. What a lackluster end to this great tradition.
Brewers 36-33, -8.5 (3 v. Blue Jays, 3 v. Orioles)
Reds 33-38, -12.5 (3 v. Dodgers, 3 @ Yankees)
Twins 34-36, -4.5 (3 v. Nationals, 3 v. Diamondbacks)
Erik - 12
Peter - 21

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