COOPERSTOWN _ The Otsego County Board of Representatives plans to ask that Major League Baseball reinstate the annual Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown.
Last week, Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, announced that this year's Hall of Fame Game between the San Diego Padres and the Chicago Cubs will be the last.
Major League Baseball has determined that sending two teams to Cooperstown during the season presents a serious scheduling problem, according to Petroskey and MLB Chief Operating Officer Robert DuPuy.
However, at Wednesday's county board meeting, some representatives said the rationale for ending a tradition in Cooperstown, purported birthplace of baseball, rings hollow.
"I think it's shame the bottom line has apparently become so important to today's players,'' said Rep. Greg Relic, R-Unadilla.
"A lot of people around here are disappointed,'' said Rep. James Johnson, R-Otsego. "I think we should ask the chairman to draft a letter to Major League Baseball.''
Exhibition games between major league teams have been played in Cooperstown since 1940. For many years, the teams played during the Hall of Fame's Induction Weekend, when retired, standout players receive bronze plaques, honoring their achievements.
The combination of the game, with major leaguers playing in intimate Doubleday Field and the arrival of the stars of yesteryear, drew sizable crowds to Cooperstown.
Since 2003, the exhibition games have been played in the spring while inductions have continued to take place in the summer.
"I can see the sense in separating the game from Induction Weekend, but not in eliminating it,'' Johnson said.
With major leaguers in Cooperstown in the spring and former stars here in the summer, village merchants have had two big baseball events to look forward to, he noted.
Rep. Sam Dubben, R-Middlefield, said the decision to end the series of games after this year sends a sour message to youths in the area.
"I think it's a shame, because the dream of every young baseball player is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame someday,'' he said.
"For many kids around here, the Hall of Fame game is the only opportunity they'll ever have to see a major league game,'' said Rep. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington.
Rep. Richard Murphy, D-Oneonta, said that in the days when Jim Konstanty, whose son is county attorney, pitched for the Philadephia Phillies, "the players were happy to play here.''
Rep. Marti Stayton, D-Oneonta, said the county board should work to have the game reinstated but should coordinate efforts with the Hall of Fame.
Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn said Thursday that Hall officials treasure the game but have to abide by the decisions of Major League Baseball.
Patrick Courtney, a MLB spokesman, said that he saw little possibility the decision would be reversed.
Some of the representatives said they were moved to action by the encouragement of Kristian Connolly, a 1995 graduate of Cooperstown Central School, who has launched a website to save the game, www.savethefamegame.com.
Connolly said Thursday that his site is attracting considerable interest from those who want to preserve the tradition of major leaguers appearing yearly at Doubleday Field.