By ERIC AHLQVIST
The Cooperstown Crier
COOPERSTOWN _ Ford C. Frick and J.G. Taylor Spink are moving up in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend lineup, but the annual New York-Penn League game at Doubleday Field has been released.
The Hall announced Tuesday that it will present its Frick and Spink awards _ for excellence in baseball broadcasting and writing, respectively _ at 4:30 p.m. July 23 at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown. The 2011 Induction Ceremony is slated for 1:30 p.m. July 24 at the Clark Sports Center.
In past years, winners of the Hall's annual media awards were honored during the Induction Ceremony. In July, Frick winner Dave Van Horne and Spink winner Bill Conlin will receive their awards during a special ceremony that will lead into the Parade of Legends, which featured 50 Hall of Famers in its inaugural run last year.
The parade, which drew thousands of fans this past summer, will begin at 6 p.m. July 23 and run from Doubleday Field to the Hall's entrance on Main Street.
"Any time we have a chance to bring our Hall of Famers closer to the fans, we're going to do it," said Hall President Jeff Idelson, who added that Hall of Famers will participate in a series of free activities at Doubleday Field before the media winners are recognized. "It's a chance for us to re-structure what we do. Again, the plans are not finalized, but I think we'll have more interaction with our Hall of Famers. It's safe to say (Hall of Fame Weekend) will have a different look."
That look won't include the NY-Penn Hall of Fame Game _ a tradition since 1991 _ or the HOF Weekend edition of Connecting Generations.
"The game is gone since Oneonta no longer has a team," said Idelson, referring to the Oneonta Tigers earlier-than-promised move to Norwich, Conn., for the 2010 NY-Penn season. The team became the Connecticut Tigers, who beat the Tri-City ValleyCats, 6-5, in 13 innings at Doubleday Field last year.
"Connecting Generations was very popular," Idelson continued, "but the whole idea with the revamping of the lineup is to make Main Street and Doubleday Field the center of attention all day long on Saturday."
Cooperstown Mayor Joe Booan, who attended Tuesday's media conference at the Hall, said the changes could help the local economy.
"I think it will be great for baseball fans and also great for our Main Street merchants," he said. "This will bring fans to the downtown business district all day."
The Hall also announced Tuesday that Hall of Famers Goose Gossage, Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith will play in the third annual Hall of Fame Classic on June 19. The trio will join four other Hall of Famers and 20 other retired major leaguers in the Father's Day exhibition game. The Classic replaced the Hall of Fame Game, a longtime in-season exhibition between two major league teams.