With Cooperstown expecting record crowds Sunday, July 21, for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum induction of Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith, here are some helpful hints if you plan to attend:
Arrive early and take the trolley: There are only so many ways in and out of Cooperstown, and state Route 28 will be the busiest of them. The earlier you arrive Sunday, the better. The blue lot is accessible to people coming north on 28; the red lot is accessible to people coming south on 28; the yellow lot is accessible to people coming south on state Route 80. An all-day pass is $14 per person. Go to www.cooperstownny.org/trolley-system/ to learn more about the village trolleys. The village is expected to open additional parking lots as well. There is paid parking ($25 average) in the village at houses, the Cooperstown Elementary School on Walnut Street and at some area businesses, but it is limited and arriving early is optimal to getting a spot close to Main Street — lower Main Street, east of Chestnut Street, is pedestrian-only during the weekend — or close to the induction location. Which is ...
Not, actually in Cooperstown: The Clark Sports Center is about a half mile outside of the village of Cooperstown, in the town of Middlefield, on 124 county Route 54, which is also known as Susquehanna Avenue. To get to the induction, walk south on Susquehanna Avenue, which begins at Chestnut Street (aka Route 28), and also connects with Elm Street, Beaver Street and Walnut Street. From Main Street, walk south on Pioneer Street or Fair Street until you connect with Beaver Street and then walk west to Susquehanna Avenue. You will see the long line of people walking in the same direction. Of all the trolley lots, the blue lot is closest to the induction site. Walk north on Linden Avenue and then east of Walnut Street to get to Susquehanna Avenue.
Induction activities begin at 1:30 p.m., but it will take time to get there and more time to find a spot to sit. If you do not have tickets to one of the VIP areas, you will want to arrive early for the best spot. If you don’t mind being far away, you can always sit on the hill. Once crowds grow above 50,000 people, it becomes harder and more time consuming to walk through the crowd. If attendance approaches or surpasses the 2007 record of 82,000 people, it will be even more important to arrive early. With so many players coming from cities that are a day-trip away from Cooperstown, there could be significant Sunday traffic into and out of the village.
Bring sunscreen and water:
Most of the year, the field where the induction takes place is used for soccer, baseball and softball. There are no trees and little shade. Umbrellas and small fans are often brought by savvy visitors. Early forecasts Sunday are for temperatures in the high 80s with some clouds. If those clouds do not show up, it could be sweltering. Sunburns are typical. Arriving early will solve one problem, but could lead to added stress from sun and heat exposure. An EMT tent will be stationed along Susquehanna Avenue. In addition, Cooperstown Central School students will be selling water and other concessions to raise money for their senior trips.
Stay late: Sunday evening and Monday morning are two great times to see Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame after the crowds begin to leave. Traffic out of the village will be awful Sunday evening. Going back to the village and eating or shopping some more will help ease the traffic burden significantly. If you go back to the Hall of Fame, you can also watch the installation of the plaques at 7 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Gallery.
It’s called Hall of Fame Weekend for a reason: Induction Sunday is a great day in baseball every year, but Hall of Fame Weekend is a four-day event, with something special every day. Saturday’s Parade of Legends is the second headliner. It is scheduled to feature 59 Hall of Fame members, including this year’s class of inductees and legends such as Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench and Cal Ripken Jr. Although the parade — which begins at Doubleday Field and goes from Bud Fowler Lane to Chestnut Street to Main Street — begins at 6 p.m., some people place their chairs in the morning and wait all day to hold the best spot. The parade follows the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation, which begins at 4:30 p.m at Doubleday Field. It is possible to attend the award presentation and see the parade. However, the parade is likely to be crowded this year, too.
Friday, July 19 and Monday, July 22, features events that offer access for baseball fans.
Friday, the 18th annual PLAY Ball fundraiser with Ozzie Smith will be from 8 to 11 a.m. in Cooperstown. Smith and 2018 Hall of Famer inductees Trevor Hoffman, Jim Thome and Alan Trammell will meet with fans for photos, stories and baseball instruction. Tickets cost $750 for members, $1,000 for non-members and proceeds go to the museum’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. Since 2002, the program has raised more than $200,000 for the museum’s initiatives, according to the Hall of Fame.
The event begins at 8 a.m the Hall of Fame’s Plaque Gallery and continues with a two-hour session at a local baseball field. These tickets sometimes sell out, so call ahead for tickets at 607-547-0385.
Monday caps Hall of Fame weekend with a Legends of the Game Roundtable. Peter Gammonds hosts the new inductees for an hourlong interview that looks back on induction Sunday. It begins at 10:30 a.m. at The Clark Sports Center. This event is for Hall of Fame members only and costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids younger than 12. Call 607-547-0397 for tickets.