Doubleday will not reopen this season; remaining games canceled

Greg Klein | The Daily StarDoubleday Field, seen, from Main Street in Cooperstown in this file photo, will not host baseball games this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

COOPERSTOWN — There will be no baseball games in the home of baseball’s centerpiece stadium this year. 

The village of Cooperstown’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday, July 28, to cancel the remainder of the games scheduled at Doubleday Field, the 100-year-old village-owned baseball stadium. 

In addition, the village will not open its parks for swimming this summer, keeping beaches at Three Mile Point and Fairy Springs Park closed for the season.

Games at the field had already been canceled through Saturday, Aug. 15, Village Administrator Teri Barown told the trustees Monday. Many of the games were self-canceled by the teams, she said. However, because baseball is allowed under Phase Four of New York’s reopening guidelines, she said she was still getting inquiries and she thought the trustees should make a decision about the remainder of the season. 

“It is hard to go two weeks at a time,” she said. 

Barown said part of the problem is many of the rentals came from teams from states on New York’s 14-day quarantine list, meaning players from those states would have to quarantine for two weeks before playing games. According to the Associated Press, as of Tuesday, July 28, there were 34 states on the New York quarantine list, which is based on coronavirus infection rates in those states.   

Barown did say the village is moving forward with plans for the third base grandstand for the stadium, and is working with Delaware Engineering and Saratoga Associates on drawings and specifications. 

According to the history of the field, which is listed at www.friendsofdoubleday.org, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce bought Elihu Phinney’s lot in 1919 and christened it Doubleday Field, after former Cooperstown resident Gen. Abner Doubleday. Doubleday had often been credited with inventing baseball and playing the first game on Phinney’s lot in 1838, but historians have debunked that claim.

The official first game on the field was played Labor Day, Sept. 6, 1920, between teams from Cooperstown and Milford. The lot was sold to the village of Cooperstown three years later. The grandstand was built soon after to commemorate “the 100th anniversary of Doubleday’s game” in 1938.

Doubleday has been in the midst of a multi-year $5.8 million renovation, which was supposed to coincide with a 100th anniversary celebration and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2020 Induction Weekend, featuring former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter. The coronavirus also canceled the 2020 Induction, which has been rescheduled for July 25, 2021. 

The state paid for most of the field’s renovations, with $3 million coming from the Empire State Development Fund and $2 million from the State Municipal Facilities Program. Most of the remainder of the funds are being raised by Friends of Doubleday Field, a non-government group.

The two parks — Three Mile on state Route 80 on the west side of Otsego Lake and Fairy Spring on county Route 31 on the east side of Otsego Lake — are outside Cooperstown’s boundaries, but owned by the village. The parks will continue to be open for socially distanced recreation, Barown said, but swimming will not be allowed and the village will not hire lifeguards for the properties this summer. 

The trustees unanimously agreed to keep the beaches closed. 

The village updated its website Tuesday to reflect the changes, posting: 

“During this difficult time, the primary goal is to protect the public’s health and safety. This was a difficult decision for the village to make and (we) acknowledge the disappointment it has caused. We know how much our local residents look forward to the enjoyment of the beaches and swimming areas at both of our parks during the summer months. We very much appreciate everyone’s understanding of the difficulties faced this year, and now look forward to the reopening of our summer beaches in 2021.”

In other business Monday: 

The trustees set a second public hearing for the special meeting to be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, to change a law regarding the dumping of debris and refuge on village property. The changes include a fine of up to $350 for such dumping. 

According to the language in the bill, the previous law did not have enough enforcement to prevent the issue, which has been a problem this year. The “debris and refuge has been purposely left or deposited on village owned property by individuals thereby creating an unsightly and insanitary health risk,” the document said. 

The trustees also set a public hearing for the Aug. 5, special meeting in order to discuss a proposed law requiring mask wearing and other social distancing measures in the downtown business district.  

The trustees accepted a $250 donation to the tree committee from Jane Clark in memory of Giles Russell. Russell, a former village trustee and longtime Cooperstown resident, died in June at age 86. 

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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