BY MICHELLE MILLER
The annual Hall of Fame Classic is no longer going to be just about a baseball outing with dad. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Jeff Idelson announced Tuesday that events will be added to expand on the Father’s Day provided by the HOF. Organizers are teaming with the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and the village of Cooperstown to provide a more community festival-like atmosphere for not only those who travel to Cooperstown, but to entice village residents to come out and about that weekend as well.
With the new goal, the one-day Father’s Day event will be transformed into a weekend experience called the Cooperstown Classic Fest. Festivities will take place June 17-19.
“In launching the Hall of Fame Classic two years ago, our premise was to provide a fan-friendly experience for fans to see their baseball legends come to life on one of the most historic grounds in all of baseball history at Doubleday Field,” Idelson said. “The feedback in the first two years has been nothing short of dynamic – from the more than 7,000 fans each year who have witnessed the Classic, to the players who are rediscovering their love of the game all over again, to the Cooperstown community, which embraces baseball heroes unlike anyone else.”
Idelson said he believe the additions to the 2011 calendar will benefit everyone and keep the Classic on the national landscape for many years to come. He said the best part about it is a lot of the entertainment is provided for free.
“Hopefully this will provide the first pitch to summer tourism, providing a festival environment for fans throughout the region and across the globe to celebrate the start of the summer season” Idelson said.
“We want to offer reasons beyond baseball to those who reside here,” he continued.
As part of Classic Fest, free entertainment, along with programs designed to further the interactive experience with major league stars and fans of the game will be held on Saturday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Doubleday Field and the adjoining parking lot.
The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce will manage vending opportunities to its members in the Doubleday Field parking lot. Programs the Hall of Fame plans to provide at Doubleday Field throughout the day include a youth skills clinic, interactive programs featuring former major leaguers, and exclusive photo opportunity with Hall of Fame members and a moderated discussion featuring all of the Hall of Fame members participating in the weekend festivities.
So far the Hall of Fame has announced that six Hall of Fame members will be featured in this year’s Classic, which is a seven-inning legends exhibition game that replaced the Hall of Fame Game after it was discontinued by Major League Baseball. Those Hall of Famers include Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Phil Niekro, Jim Rice, Ozzie Smith and Dick Williams. Notable former major league stars scheduled to participate include Doug Glanville, Bill Lee, Willie Wilson and Dmitri Young.
Additional Hall of Famers and other retired stars will be announced in the coming weeks.
Saturday will also serve as “Price Chopper Day” at the Hall of Fame and Museum, as all AdvantEdge card holders will be admitted to the museum free of charge, all day long.
The Cooperstown Game Day Parade will lead off events scheduled for Sunday. The parade will begin at noon down Main Street, all of the baseball legends riding in trolleys to Doubleday Field. A hitting contest will be held at 1 p.m. The Classic, which has been presented by Ford Motor Co. since its inception, will be held at 2 p.m. at Doubleday Field.
Tickets for the Classic will first be available at 10 a.m. April 16 through a one-day sale at the Hall of Fame. Tickets will be available as long as they last.
Concurrently on Saturday, April 16, tickets will be available for museum members by phone and via the Internet beginning at 10 a.m.
The exclusive member window to purchase tickets for the Classic will continue through business hours on Sunday, April 24. Should any Classic tickets remain on Monday, April 25, they will be available via phone, the Internet and in-person at the museum’s store, while supplies last.
The entire slate of programs for the 2011 Classic Weekend and ticket availability information is listed below:
June 17-18: Cooperstown Golf Classic - An exclusive golf opportunity with Hall of Fame members, in a fundraiser for the museum. Golf with legends, a private reception in the Hall of Fame Gallery with the game’s legends. This will be limited to 28 participants. For pricing and to reserve a spot, call 547-0310. Saturday, June 18:
Classic Fest - presented by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, the village of Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Doubleday Parking Lot, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with fare from local vendors, live entertainment and more.
ACTIVITIES AT DOUBLEDAY FIELD, HOSTED BY THE HALL OF FAME, INCLUDE: Legends for Youth Skills Clinic, 8 a.m. to noon Youths ages 6-12 can participate in a skills clinic led by former major league stars. Participation is free but pre-registration is required. For more information, call 547-0397.
Hall of Fame Showcase, 12:30-4:30 p.m.
A family-fun environment, with art activities, hands-on stations for baseball fans of all ages, special appearances and programs by former major league stars, educational presentations, and much more.
Activities and special guests from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s education programs. Admission is free. Hall of Fame Member Photo, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Participants will have the opportunity to have their photo taken with Hall of Fame members at Doubleday Field, in this fundraiser for the museum. Pre-registration is required. For more information, call 547-0397. Voices of the Game, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Hall of Fame members in attendance will share their experiences and stories in a moderated, one-hour program.
Fans catch a glimpse of their favorite Hall of Famer through a presentation on the field of legends, featuring a question and answer session from fans. Saturday, June 18: Price Chopper Day at the Hall of Fame
AdvantEdge card holders receive free admission to the museum all day. The museum is open 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Sunday, June 19: Hall of Fame Game Day Parade At noon, Hall of Fame members and former major league stars will make their way down Main Street in Cooperstown en route to Doubleday Field. The parade will begin at the corner between Main and Fair streets.
Sunday, June 19: Third Annual Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field at 1 p.m.
The third third annual Classic Hitting Contest will start at 1 p.m. and a seveninning legends Game, will begin at 2 p.m. Hall of Famers and 20 other former major league stars will compete in an afternoon of fun. Tickets are required.