Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baseball, N.Y.'s Pastime: Visiting Cooperstown

It's been an exceptional season for baseball in New York as the summer game prepares for the fall post-season. New York's big league teams, the Yanks and Mets, are contending for post-season championship play in the same season for only the third time ever. Attendance in New York City will set a record this year, and our scouts in the Big Apple report that interest in the game is immoderate, even by New York standards.

And it's not just the Big Apple. Minor league baseball set an all-time attendance record this season, drawing almost a million more fans than last year.

Here in central New York, we have a Mets minor league team in Binghamton, a Yankee affiliate in nearby Scranton (well, nearby enough for the fanatic), and a Toronto team in Syracuse.
The minor league season is over, however, so barring a trip to Yankee or Shea Stadium, the closest cool trip for an Ithaca fan is a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, about 2 hours away. We went this past weekend.

It's an excellent time for a visit, as the out-of-school kids and summer vacationers are gone. The Hall is less crowded, and so are restaurants. Hotels have off-season rates.

Cooperstown is a lovely little town, like a movie set, but real. Baseball has been good to the town and it is well-kept and appointed. There are no chain stores downtown, besides a useful CVS. The noteworthy architecture includes Federal-style houses from the 18th century.

Lake Otsego is a 2-block stroll from Main Street and, like the town, pristine. A 20-foot wide outflow from the lake is the humble-seeming source of the Susquehanna River. The river flows a hundred miles or so west - past the Dunkin' Donuts in Owego - !!- - before turning back east, picking up myriad tributaries all along to its far-flung destination, the Chesapeake Bay.

The Hall of Fame has safeguarded baseball's legends since its start in 1939. For the fan, it is a repository of history, memory, and fun that transcends rationality. For the casual fan, or even non-fan, the Museum has exhibits of art and history that should provide sufficient edification and entertainment. (If not, the Hall has a re-entry policy that allows guests to take revivifying breaks outside.)

We will have a few particular recommendations from our trip in the next posting.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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