The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

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June 15, 2008

After 7 decades, Fame Game's last hurrah is Monday

COOPERSTOWN _ Want to see a Major League Baseball game for $11, or sit in the good seats for $12.50?

Your last chance may be Monday, when the Chicago Cubs meet the San Diego Padres at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.

Beginning at 2 p.m., the National Baseball Hall of Fame's annual exhibition game, a tradition dating back to 1940, is scheduled to be played one last time.

The game is sold out, but any returned tickets will be made available at 9 a.m. Monday in the Doubleday Field parking lot.

It may be fitting that the Cubs, who lead the Central Division of the National League, help complete the matchup. They were here at the beginning, too, when Franklin Roosevelt was president and teams traveled by train to this quaint village in upstate New York.

In 1940, long before there were Padres in San Diego, the Cubs and Boston Red Sox played a game to support the Hall of Fame, which had opened the year before to honor baseball's finest players. As part of the Hall's 1939 inauguration, an all-star game, including the game's biggest star, Babe Ruth, was played in Cooperstown.

``At that point, Ruth had retired, but no one could keep him from playing,'' said Brad Horn, Hall of Fame spokesman.

The next year, baseball's bosses decided to institutionalize the game in Cooperstown as an annual contest between teams.

As the Hall of Fame reports on its website: ``At the annual joint meeting of the National and American leagues, held at Chicago, Dec. 11, 1940, with Commissioner Kenesaw Landis presiding, it was decided to make permanent the playing of an annual interleague exhibition game between two major league teams, the proceeds of which would be devoted to the upkeep of the national shrine.

``Thus began what Cooperstown and the rest of the baseball world has come to know as a rite of summer, a sunny afternoon ballgame played on the former cow pasture where Major Abner Doubleday was once thought to have laid out the first diamond and formulated the first rules of the nation's pastime way back in 1839.

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