By ERIC AHLQVIST
Persistence paid off for Kristian Connolly.
The Cooperstown graduate and SaveTheFameGame.com founder announced this week that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig arranged a meeting between Connolly, MLB president Bob Dupuy, and Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson in Cooperstown during the Hall of Fame’s Induction weekend, which begins this Friday and goes through Sunday. Connolly sent three separate requests for a meeting before Selig finally relented.
The meeting will take place at the Hall of Fame at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Connolly has been at the front of the fight to save the annual Hall of Fame Game, a Cooperstown tradition for nearly 70 years. In January, Major League Baseball announced this year’s game, which was scheduled for June, would be the final one. The game between the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs was rained out.
``While the ultimate goal was to sit down and talk with Mr. Selig directly, the opportunity to meet with Mr. Dupuy and Mr. Idelson is certainly a very positive development in the campaign to have the Fame Game tradition continue,’’ said Connolly.
``I thank Mr. Selig for arranging this meeting, and I cannot help but view the upcoming meeting as a validation of the campaign, as a recognition of the impact that passionate baseball fans from all over the country can have on the national pastime’s direction and future, and as a signal of MLB’s and the Hall of Fame’s willingness to rethink the decision to end the great baseball, American and Cooperstown tradition of the Hall of Fame Game.’’
MLB officials cited scheduling problems and a players’ union request to discontinue the game among the reasons for cancelling the contest.
In recent years, mostly minor leaguers have played in the Game, unlike in the past when star players participated.
In June, Hall of Fame spokesperson Brad Horn said a replacement for the game was in the works and should be in place by 2009. Possible replacements bandied about include a minor league game, a Futures Game or an Old Timers’ Game.
In addition, Senator Jim Seward volunteered to chair a committee of local leaders to find a possible replacement for the Game.
Connolly sent Commissioner Selig three separate letters asking for “the opportunity to discuss with you the passion that exists for keeping a great American and baseball tradition alive ... and have an open discussion about options for retaining Major League Baseball’s participation in the Hall of Fame Game, as it has been since 1940.”
By ERIC AHLQVIST
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