Major League Baseball announced that the 2008 Hall of Fame Game scheduled for Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field on June 16 between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres will be the last. Citing difficulties in travel, baseball officials have decided to pull the plug. Most have already trotted out the familiar retorts including: “Baseball doesn’t care about its fans or its roots and so on.”
Let’s look at the positive side. The Hall of Fame Game was nothing more than a mid-season spring training game. By the third inning, most of the players were from the A and AA levels. There is no doubt that the game was great for Cooperstown as 10,000 fans came to the little village to see baseball and spend some dough downtown.
But, there could be a happy ending here. Why not make the Hall of Fame Game a “Celebration of New York Baseball?” New York State has a plethora of minor league baseball teams, including three—Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse—-at the AAA level, and the Binghamton Mets at the AA level.
What the Hall of Fame should do is have Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Binghamton play one home game per year in Cooperstown, making that the annual Hall of Fame Game. It makes perfect sense. Most minor league teams play wrap around series that start on Friday and end on Monday. Why not have the Syracuse Chiefs host three games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and move the Monday getaway game to Doubleday Field? In successive years, let Buffalo, Rochester and Binghamton do the same. And, if possible, why not pair two New York teams against each other?
No, it’s not the majors, but it would be a regular season AA or AAA game that would count in the standings and thus, have real meaning. And, if Cooperstown is the place to celebrate the great game of baseball, celebrating minor league baseball in New York State makes perfect sense.
C’mon Cooperstown, let’s get this done.