Kristian Connolly got his wish, at least partially.
As the head of the website savethefamegame.com, Cooperstown graduate Connolly sent three letters to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig asking for a meeting during the upcoming Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
Connolly, 30, found out Friday that he'll get his meeting, but Selig won't be there. Instead, he'll meet in Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson's office at 10 a.m. Saturday with Idelson and Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy. Connolly said Selig set up the meeting.
"I would prefer he would be there," Connolly said Monday of Selig, who annually attends the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year's event, headlined by Goose Gossage and Dick Williams, is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Clark Sports Center. "Actually, this is the next best thing to meet with his top deputy. Obviously, Bob DuPuy works closely with the commissioner."
The obvious topic is the Hall of Fame Game, an annual exhibition at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown since 1940.
Major League Baseball sent a directive to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 29, saying 2008 would mark the final Hall of Fame Game. MLB cited scheduling as the major reason for discontinuing baseball's lone in-season exhibition.
The 2008 Fame Game between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres was rained out June 16.
Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn confirmed the meeting between Connolly, Idelson and DuPuy on Monday. Horn added Idelson will not comment on the meeting.
"We have no further comment or explanation," Horn said.
Connolly, who works for a non-profit animal protection group on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., said he sees the meeting as a positive step for his group.
"That's why I'm doing this," said Connolly, who added that about 1,700 fans nationwide have joined him in his quest to get the game reinstated. "If they're willing to meet, there's still some hope possible for the future. This is a good sign."
But even if Connolly convinces MLB's higher-ups that this tradition that always sells out the close to 10,000 seats at Doubleday Field should be reinstated, he'd still have to sway the Players' Union.
"The change was negotiated by the players," said Connolly, who spent 3 1/2 years in the Minnesota Twins' public relations department as well as a year working at the Hall of Fame earlier this decade. "Obviously, the players have a role in this."
Connolly added that players such as Tony Clark had no idea this was the last year of the Hall of Fame Game. Veteran first baseman Clark visited the Hall of Fame as a member of the Padres on June 15 and attended a media conference the following day at the Clark Sports Center.
Clark, who has since been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, took his children to the Hall the night before the Fame Game. He said they spent most of their time at a Negro League exhibit called "Pride and Passion."
"For me to take the time and learn the Negro League players who set the stage for me personally was crucial," Clark said then. "That was where we spent most of our time last night. That's where I took my kids, so they could understand why their dad has the opportunity to do what he's doing.
"The education for myself and my kids was invaluable," he continued.
Clark, a 14-year veteran, said younger players could benefit from visiting the Hall and added he wouldn't be opposed to finding a way to keep the exhibition going.
Former Oneonta Tigers manager Tom Brookens said in January most players don't look forward to the game.
"It's supposed to be a fun game, but, I'll be honest _ as a player you don't care to play games on your off days," said Brookens, who played in the 1984 Hall of Fame Game with the Detroit Tigers "That's probably the way 99 percent of the guys feel. ... Sometimes on a day off, you want to go home and kick back. But looking back, it's a bit more meaningful. It is what it is. Some guys look at it as a good experience and some say, Let's get out of here and move on.'"
Added Connolly: "I think once they're here, they enjoy the experience. It's a unique opportunity to connect with the history of the game. The players aren't necessarily against it, but the union is behind it. It's a little bit tougher to pressure the union into doing anything."
Several alternative plans for the Fame Game have been mentioned, Connolly said, including an old-timers game, a futures game and an international game. Connolly said he's not high on any of those ideas as a replacement for the Fame Game.
"The Hall of Fame Game is a Major League Baseball game and requires Major League Baseball participating," he said. "Short of Major League Baseball participating in some exhibition, I wouldn't be satisfied."
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.