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January 30, 2008

Baseball Hall sets final Fame Game

COOPERSTOWN _ A nearly 70-year tradition will come to an end in June with the final Baseball Hall of Fame Game.

National Baseball Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey announced Tuesday that this year's game, featuring the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres on Monday, June 16, at Cooperstown's historic Doubleday Field, will be the last. The first game was played in 1940.

"We're grateful to Major League Baseball for making an annual Hall of Fame Game possible for so many years, but we also understand their enormous scheduling challenge today, which makes continuing this exhibition game impossible," Petroskey said in a media release.

The impact of the decision on the local economy will depend on how successful several impacted groups are in finding a substitute for the event.

Hall of Fame Chairwoman Jane Forbes Clark said, "We will continue to be creative and innovative in looking for ways to host wonderful baseball events in the absence of the game."

Cooperstown Mayor Carol Waller said the village received about $30,000 from ticket sales for the Hall of Fame Game. Officials are talking with representatives from the Baseball Hall of Fame about pursuing other events to fill the field during that week, she said.

These could include hosting a Little League championship or an international game, Waller said.

An event such as those would soften the impact of the lost funding, Waller said, that is used for sprucing up the field and security for the Hall of Fame induction.

"If we can get creative, we can get that back," she said.

Hall of Fame vice president of communications and education Jeff Idelson said, "We'll look at every possible alternative" in bringing back an event to Doubleday Field for the weekend in 2009.

The stadium seats 9,571.

"It's sad," Waller said about the end of the tradition.

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