On January 29, 2008, Major League Baseball announced that the Hall of Fame Game -- an annual tradition celebrating the national pastime since 1940 -- would be ended following the 2008 contest between the San Diego Padres and the Chicago Cubs in Cooperstown. This site is intended to help reverse that decision, and keep tradition alive in the Home of Baseball, and here are reasons why:
- The Bigger Picture: The Hall of Fame Game has survived a world war, player strikes, steroids and more for almost 70 years in order to help maintain what is right and true about our national game. Bud Selig has always been fond of noting all of the many accomplishments he has achieved during his tenure as commissioner. One very black mark on his legacy will be the death of the Hall of Fame Game. The Hall of Fame Game doesn't need TV ratings, ad revenue or 24-7 news-cycle hype to survive. It only needs 10,000 baseball fans -- young and old -- and two Major League teams for one day a year. That's all it takes to greatly impact a deserving community, and remind spectators and participants alike that baseball is a glorious game, and an undeniable part of American culture and identity.
- This is What We Mean: Read this email from one concerned fan and parent.
- The History: Since 1940, 124 Major League teams have played in Cooperstown. In fact, Cooperstown has a longer history with Major League Baseball than almost half of the big league metropolitan areas today. Take some time to read through the game recaps by decade (linked on the right-hand side of this page) and you'll be told some amazing stories about future Hall of Famers, rookie debuts, called shots, unique moments and more, and none of it would have happened if not for the Hall of Fame Game.
- Don't Let Greed Win Out: Major League Baseball has been experiencing unprecedented growth and popularity at the box office in recent years, and every decision that is made -- whether to launch the World Baseball Classic, start its own web site or send teams overseas to play -- is made with an eye focused squarely on the financial gain of such a decision. For almost 70 years, the Hall of Fame Game has been the one thing that has been done in the best interest of the fans and of the sport -- not as a business, but as a game. You can pretty much guarantee that if Doubleday Field held 50,000 people -- or if a major American city that was not already a Major League city was the Home of Baseball instead of 2,000-resident, located-in-the-middle-of-upstate-New-York Cooperstown -- this game would be scheduled and played.
- The Connection: Yankee Stadium, as we know it, will close its doors following the 2008 season. That leaves Doubleday Field, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park as the three ballparks in America where a current Major League player can dig the same hole in the batter's box, or stand atop the same mound, or field the same section of the field, as many of the true icons of the national game. Since 1939, more than two-thirds of the Hall of Famers whose careers would have made it possible to have played on Doubleday Field have done so, almost exclusively as a result of playing in the Hall of Fame Game.
- The Icons: Here's just a partial list of the game's greats that have played in Cooperstown: Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra, Roberto Clemente, Joe Dimaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Roberts, Brooks Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, Duke Snider, Willie Stargell, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Ted Williams, Dave Winfield, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount.
- The Local Economy: According to local news report, Cooperstown Mayor Carol Waller said the village receives about $30,000 from ticket sales for the Hall of Fame Game, and local businesses (restaurants, retailers, hotels, etc.) that rely on the Hall of Fame Game to provide the second-most profitable weekend on the calendar will be heavily affected by the decision to end the annual event. This matters in a tourism-heavy economy that largely relies on the May-October period of the year to do a large amount of its business.
- It's Not About the Schedule: It seems hard to believe that, in 2008, it's more difficult than it was at any other point in history to find one day during the season when two Major League teams could make their way to the Home of Baseball in order to visit the Hall of Fame and play an exhibition game that is meant to celebrate the national pastime. Major League Baseball can schedule games in Japan, China, Mexico, Memphis, Orlando and Puerto Rico, so isn't it likely that they could find a way to hold a game in Cooperstown?
- The Kids: According to that same news report, Cooperstown High School students could lose an average of $9,000 to $11,000 earned by running the concession stands at the game. Year after year, those earnings are a key financial component to funding the senior class trip to Washington, DC, which for many from the small community in upstate New York will be their first and only trip to the nation's capital.
- The People of Cooperstown and Central New York: Don't allow Major League Baseball to flex its corporate muscle and kill a good thing without even discussing it with the folks that it will affect the most. Besides the economic impact of the decision, for most residents in the broader area of New York state that Cooperstown sits within, the closest Major League city is 4-6 hours away. The Hall of Fame Game is their one opportunity every year to see Major League Baseball without having to break the bank on gas or ticket prices.
- The Home Run Derby: The left field line is 296 feet, the right field line is 312, and the gaps are anywhere from 336 to 350. If you've never been to the Hall of Fame Game's Home Run Derby and seen the houses of Cooperstown getting bombed by big league blasts, then you've been missing out.
- The Stories: During the 1961 game, Brooks Robinson, the Orioles third baseman, learned that he was a father for the first time, as the public address announcer informed the game day crowd. "That was a very special day," Robinson recalled in 2003. "What made that even more special was the fact when I went into the Hall of Fame in 1983, my oldest son went to Cooperstown for the first time. On the day he was born, I was playing in Cooperstown, and then his first visit is to see me inducted."
- 1941: In just the second year of the game, future Hall of Famer and then National League president Ford C. Frick instructed the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians to play, despite the driving rains, so that the thousands of fans in attendance would not go home disappointed.
- 1943: Because of the strain that World War II was putting on the nation's gasoline reserves, the Brooklyn Dodgers rode into Cooperstown on horseback, while spectators walked, rode bicycles and also came by horse to view that year's contest. How difficult must that have been on scheduling?
- The Ticket Line: Before the internet, tickets to the Hall of Fame Game would go on sale at the Hall of Fame itself, and people would line up for blocks and camp out in order to get tickets to the one-time-a-year event. High School students at Cooperstown risked detention or suspension for a chance to get tickets to the Hall of Fame Game, but they camped out all the same. Thankfully, the Hall will return to on-site or phone orders only this March.
- The $10-12 Seats: Where else in America can close to 10,000 people sit and watch a game from seats that are practically on the field and only cost $10-12?
- The Batboys and Ballgirls: Every Cooperstown Central School senior baseball and softball player looks forward to the chance to interact with the big leaguers for just one day.
- It's Simple: You love the game of baseball, and you respect its place in American history and culture.
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