A couple of weeks ago when we wrote that we hoped the date change for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual seven-inning exhibition game would be a hit we were not expecting Mother Nature to force an alternative plan all together. Now there is no way to know if the Memorial Day Weekend would have been a better suit as we cannot compare apples to oranges.
With rain coming down all day, the Hall of Fame Classic seized to exist and organizers came up with a plan B — inviting fans into the museum. The “Night at the Museum” program was moved to the afternoon. Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame president, said: “The weather gave us lemons, but I think we were able to turn it into lemonade.”
The Classic was created to replace the annual exhibition game involving major league teams. It began on Father’s Day and was moved to the Saturday before the holiday in hopes of filling Doubleday Field.
The third change was not exactly a charm in terms of getting people to the ballpark. However, it was not exactly a disaster either. Instead of just sending thousands of fans home disappointed, they were able to meet with players inside the museum where it was dry.
Idelson estimated that 3,500 people had entered by the mid-afternoon.
“We’ve never had the museum come alive quite like this,” he said.
James Daigle brought his family all the way from Houston to see the game. Instead, he beamed as he took a photo of his 15-year-old daughter, Julie, and her friends with several players.
“This is actually better than going to the game,” he said. “How often do you get a chance to do this?”
Even at the Hall, the answer was never before.
Samuel L. Waltz Jr. of Delaware was looking forward to festivities but said: It’s a shame that the Classic — and the Memorial Day parade (to which I looked forward as a Vietnam-era veteran) — was rained out this year, but that’s no reason that the HOF should not schedule it for Memorial Day next year. If the HOF gave us notice in June that next year’s game would be Memorial Day Saturday, I’d order those tickets today.”
We at the Crier thought the change to Memorial Day Weekend was a good idea as it is a popular time for travel. However, we still are not sure the Classic will ever attract as many fans as the Hall of Fame Game — the Major League exhibition that had a 68-year tradition in Cooperstown before it was discontinued in 2008. According to Hall of Fame officials, nearly every one of those games was sold out.
No matter how many events are planned in connection with the Classic, there seems to be no replacement for getting the chance to see current major leaguers take the field. This is probably because the active players are more recognizable by baseball fans because they are the ones being viewed on television.
Major League Baseball pulled the plug on the game because of mounting difficulties with scheduling. This was not a horrible thing because it could be argued that The Hall of Fame Game itself had grown a bit stale with players not wanting to make the trip to Cooperstown and not participating in the game very much at all.
The time was right for a change in the format. Who wants to watch players that do not want to be here? At least the old-timers are eager to put on a show. However, we still are not sure the format is the most exciting it could be. There is certainly room for improvement such as getting more recent retirees to play in the game and having more meet-and-greet activities.