The National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is coming up quickly. Six former players will be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 29th: Alan Trammel, Jack Morris, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman. Whether you’re a regular attendee or a first timer, here’s a few things you should know about visiting Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend.
Hotels and Parking During Hall of Fame Weekend
First thing’s first. If you haven’t booked a hotel room by now then you’re not going to get a room anywhere within a fifty mile radius of Cooperstown. At this point your best bet is either Utica, or Albany, NY. Hotels sell out months in advance, usually the month after the induction weekend, for the following year. Keep in mind there’s only 1,800 people in Cooperstown so hotels are limited. Since 40,000-50,000 people show up for the inductions it’s no wonder the hotels sell out fast. If you’re coming from out of town just for the day you can find parking along most side streets. Residents usually rent out their lawns for parking at $10-20 a day depending on how far away the events are. Be mindful though of where you can and can’t park as the town won’t hesitate to tow you!
Getting Autographs During Hall of Fame Weekend
Tons of Hall of Famers and former All-Stars come to Cooperstown each summer to see their former teammates get inducted, and celebrate the weekend. Many of them participate in autograph shows taking place throughout Cooperstown. The biggest autograph show is at Tunnicliff Inn on Pioneer Street. You can find a full lineup of who will be signing when and how much they charge at this website. Players like Ozzie Smith and Lou Whitaker will be at Seventh Inning Stretch on Main Street. You can find their information here. Then there’s Jack Berke Sports. He usually gets players like Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage (Jack is also a good guy!) You can find his information here. Of course, you can get lucky and run into former players throughout the town but in many cases they’ll be too busy to sign.
The ones you really should try and seek out are the former Negro League players, as well as the women who played in the All-American Girls Professional League (A League of Their Own). They usually show up too and charge very little for their autograph. You can find them set up along Main Street. They’re also a part of history that’s quickly disappearing, so make a point to talk to them!
Food and Attractions During Hall of Fame Weekend
You’ll have a lot of options for places to eat in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend. Doubleday Cafe on Main Street is a great place to get a burger and their desserts are amazing (and huge!). Sal’s Pizzeria in Main Street is also good, and so is “Hey Getcha Hot Dog” on Pioneer Street. If you pop in to one of these places you won’t be disappointed, but keep in mind they’re busy and want to get people in and out. Don’t loiter in there, and don’t use their bathrooms without buying something. That’s just rude. If you like whiskey then check out Cooperstown Distillery on Main Street. If you love books as much as I do then you’re not only probably single like me, but you’ll love checking out Willis Monie Books on Main Street. They have a great assortment of baseball books. Finally, shoot on over to Milford and drink a few at Cooperstown Brewery!
Hall of Fame Inductions!
50-60 Hall of Famers show up to Cooperstown for the inductions each year. On Saturday night around 6 pm there’s a parade down Main Street in Cooperstown that includes most of Hall of Famers. Here you’ll get to see Frank Robinson, Greg Maddux, Rickey Henderson, and Cal Ripken Jr. You can waive to them and take their picture! As for the actual inductions, the Baseball Hall of Fame website states that “The Class of 2018 will be formally inducted and deliver speeches during the event beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 29 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.”
I’ve seen many fans go out to Clark Sports Center on the Friday before the inductions and place lawn chairs on the grass to mark their spots. It sounds strange, but it’s an honor system that seems to work! So if you feel brave enough, take your lawn chairs out to the Clark Sports Center and leave it as close as you can to the stage where the speeches take. Trust me when I say it fills up VERY quickly. If you wait too long you’ll be almost a mile away from the stage and you won’t see much.