---- — The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual seven-inning exhibition game featuring former major league players will no longer be called the Father’s Day Classic.
Once again, the Hall of Fame is changing the date. Last year, the change was minor — instead of having the game on Father’s Day, it was moved to the day before. The game had been held on Father’s Day from 2009 to 2011.
Now, festivities will be moved on Memorial Day weekend.
After announcing last year’s change, Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said it came after looking at data that showed more people would be able to attend. He also said it would allow people to spend the day at home with their fathers.
When the date change was announced in a media release this week, Idelson said, “The Hall of Fame Classic has quickly emerged as one of the highlights of the baseball calendar, and the move to a Memorial Day Weekend date will allow fans to celebrate the traditional start of summer with an opportunity to draw closer to a salute to America’s heroes of the military.”
He added, “We are excited to bring this event to Memorial Day Weekend, with the hopes for even more residents and tourists to celebrate the start of summer.”
The Classic will begin at 2 p.m. May 25 — the Saturday before Memorial Day — at Doubleday Field.
Attendance has dropped for the last two Classics, a substitute for the Hall of Fame Game — a Major League Baseball exhibition that had a 60-year tradition in Cooperstown before it was discontinued in 2008.
The inaugural event drew 7,006 and bumped up slightly to 7,069 the following year. In 2011, 5,687 fans showed up, and this past June, the Classic was witnessed by 5,116.
The first four Classics have drawn a handful of Hall of Famers for each game to go along with about two dozen other former big leaguers.
Former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith and former pitcher Phil Niekro — both Hall of Famers — have been two of the biggest supporters of the event. The last two Classics the teams have been named the Wizards and the Knucksies in honor of Smith and Niekro.
The lineup of events that coincide with the Classic remains unchanged.
On the day of the exhibition, there will be a parade that starts at noon down Main Street featuring the game’s participants. A hitting contest will commence at 1 p.m.
Other activities include the Legends for Youth Skills Clinic at Doubleday Field, a Voices of the Game roundtable discussion with the Hall of Famers on Saturday evening at Doubleday Field following the Classic, and the popular Family Catch on Sunday morning at Doubleday Field.
A special fundraising opportunity for the Hall also will return for a fourth year as part of Classic Weekend as the Cooperstown Golf Classic will be held throughout the weekend. Featuring a golf experience with Hall of Fame members held at Leatherstocking Golf Course, the Golf Classic is an exclusive VIP experience look at the Hall of Fame through the lens of golf. For pricing information or to reserve a spot, call 547-0310.
Tickets for the Classic are $12.50 for first- and third-base seats, and $11 for outfield seats. They’ll go on sale Feb. 12, and can be purchased online at www.baseballhall.org or by calling 547-0397.