COOPERSTOWN _ As Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once said, it ain't over until it's over.
Cooperstown native Kristian Connolly and his Save the Fame Game campaign appear to be facing a large deficit with two out and none on in the bottom of the ninth, though.
"There wasn't much new by the way of news," Connolly, 30, said after his 25-minute meeting Saturday with National Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson and Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig set up the meeting to address Connolly's concerns about baseball's decision to end the Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field, an exhibition that attracts thousands of fans to the area on an annual basis. Selig appeared on stage at the Clark Sports Center on Sunday to help honor 2008 Hall of Fame inductees Goose Gossage and Dick Williams, but he did not participate in Saturday's meeting in Idelson's office.
"They just wanted to be able to sit down and talk face-to-face about the issue," said Connolly, the founder of the website savethefamegame.com who sent three letters to Selig asking MLB to reverse its Jan. 29 decision to scrap the 70-year tradition. After the third letter, Connolly said, he received a call about a face-to-face meeting from Richard Levin, MLB's senior vice president of public relations.
"They said what they've written and said before," Connolly said. "We just have differing views on the best way to promote Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame. They don't think the Hall of Fame Game fits in that plan and I do. We're just at a mutual understanding that I'll continue to move forward and so will they."
Connolly said he drove to Cooperstown from his residence in Washington, D.C., on Friday night, specifically to meet with baseball's big-wigs. Connolly added that Idelson primarily served as a facilitator to help DuPuy understand that the group is not acting out of anger.
"Our sentiments are the same as the community," said Idelson, who added that the Hall has yet to find a replacement for the Fame Game. "As the Hall of Fame, we're sad the game is coming to an end. But by the same token, we understand the reasons why. We understand that Major League Baseball's biggest asset is to promote Cooperstown on a much grander scale to a much wider audience, which will have a domino effect in sending more people to Cooperstown."
Connolly, a former Hall intern under Idelson, said he will continue writing letters in an effort to reinstate the Fame Game.
Although DuPuy basically said the Fame Game is finished, he added that MLB is dedicated to promoting the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
"We're going to do something in every stadium on Hall of Fame Sunday beginning next year that we've talked to Jane (Forbes) Clark and Jeff (Idelson) about," DuPuy said. "We're excited about expanding the base of popularity for the Hall and working with the Hall to do that.
"The logistics of the game, the fact that the players only played an inning or two, and the fact that it was disconnected from the Hall of Fame Weekend, we think the resources are better devoted elsewhere," he continued. "We think by enhancing the Hall's reputation, inciting and sending people to visit the Hall will generate a greater economic impact than a single game played up here once a year."
Williams weighed in on the issue during a Saturday afternoon media conference, and it seems Connolly now has a Hall of Famer in his corner.
"Their travel arrangements, what they've done here in Cooperstown, they've stopped that Cooperstown game and that's a darn shame," Williams said at the Cooperstown Central auditorium. "If you can't find a date that's real good with an American League team and a National League team, then have two American League teams or two National League teams, but they should continue with the games.
"There are too many rules and regulations now," he continued. "I believe, we can't do this, we can't do that. I think (former Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director) Marvin Miller would have put a stop to that."