Mention “Cooperstown” anywhere in America — not to mention many other venues around the world — and people know what you’re talking about.
They may not be able to find it on a map, but that’s OK. If they want to visit during Hall of Fame Weekend, there are plenty of global positioning system devices that will get them here.
They won’t be bothered by all the things some of our local residents find so annoying, such as the parking rates or street construction. They will come today and Sunday because to the true baseball fan, Cooperstown is holy ground.
They won’t be deterred, either, by the fact that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America didn’t vote in any players to be inducted during the ceremonies that will take place Sunday.
In fact, given the current slew of politicians running for office despite disgraceful behavior, and given this week’s suspension of current All-Star Ryan Braun for using performance-enhancing drugs, and given that Yankee Alex Rodriguez and other players will also apparently soon face punishment for the same thing, what’s happening this weekend in Cooperstown is a breath of fresh air.
Among the plaques hanging in the Hall of Fame are those representing racists, wife-beaters, criminals and other miscreants. But those men were inducted in the past. By the baseball writers excluding such suspected steroid-using cheaters as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Rafael Palmiero, the Hall of Fame makes strides to become a place of true honor.
As we wrote in this space in January after the writers’ vote was announced:
“Today, the Baseball Hall stands for something. It stands for insisting that ‘everybody does it’ is as lame for a corrupt athlete as it is for a child cheating on his homework.
“Oh, and by the way, ‘everybody’ didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs. Just the cheaters, and if they want to enter the best hall of fame in the world, they’ll just have to buy a ticket.”
One nice thing about the ceremonies taking place Saturday and Sunday is that there is free admission. It will be a wonderful time for local residents who might normally shun the tourist crowds to take in what should be a fun weekend.
The Hall has gone out of its way to make it worth our time by providing a lot of family-oriented events and honoring such members of the Hall as Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby.
And any chance to see such baseball immortals as Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Johnny Bench along with 37 other Hall of Famers is time well-spent. This weekend, let’s embrace the local magic that is Cooperstown.