Cooperstown Community Says Farewell to One of Its Own
By JEFF IDELSON
Four-time Academy Award-winning actor Katherine Hepburn famously said, “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.” In many ways, longtime Cooperstown resident Bob Faller, who passed away on July 12, channeled the mantra of Hollywood’s leading lady. He was also renowned for his strong personality, independence and outspokenness, much like the talented screen actress.
Bobby Faller moved to Cooperstown in 1996 to join The Otesaga Resort Hotel as its director of sales and marketing—a position he held for a quarter-century—after many years in the same role at the Desmond Hotel in Albany. Bobby was THE MAN in the Capital Region. He brought his family, a powerful work ethic, and a Rolodex that was second to none. We became fast friends, and I loved working closely with him from my office at 25 Main Street, as his positive energy and level of creativity were infectious.
Equipped with charm, authenticity and strong negotiating skills, he was a pied piper: Soon after his arrival, a stable of corporate clients and associations were following him to town to hold events. With an ever-present twinkle in his eye, a ceaseless ear-to-ear grin, and a tireless work ethic, he brought business to the area that helped relieve Cooperstown of some of the financial loss that had stemmed from the 1994-1995 baseball work stoppage.
Group after group would book meetings in America’s Perfect Village and ask Bobby to line up Hall of Famers to join their conferences. Ozzie Smith, Phil Niekro, Dave Winfield, Brooks Robinson, Goose Gossage, and Johnny Bench—to name a few—spent substantial time in Cooperstown in the fall, winter, and summer months. I used to joke with Phil that he spent so much time in the village that he was going to have to start paying local taxes.
Bobby also had a zest for life (and music) that was unsurpassed. Everything was interesting. Take the time he borrowed a colleague’s motorcycle to ride alongside some friends who were State Troopers. Cruising along the west side of the lake near Five Mile Point, he missed a turn, flew over the handlebars, and nearly killed himself. I asked Yogi Berra to sign a ball for him not too long after. The Yankee catcher inscribed on the ball, “Dear Bob. No more motorcycles.” Bobby laughed so hard that his broken ribs hurt. That was the end of motorcycles for him.
Then there was the time we tried playing golf at Leatherstocking. Armed with a 3 wood – and ONLY a 3 wood—he nearly rolled the cart on the hilly 11th fairway. After reaching the clubhouse, Bobby declared that his golfing day(s) was officially over. Our last adventurous time together came when I visited him in Florida at his beach-side condo in Ormond-By-The-Sea, and then spent an afternoon high-tailing it around St. Augustine in my friend Mike Veeck’s (another kindred spirit) yellow Mustang convertible.
Bobby enjoyed the beauty and culture of Cooperstown to its fullest. Working on his farmhouse and expansive property in Fly Creek, spending considerable time boating on the lake, and supporting the local American Legion, were all part of his DNA. He was very much at home drinking a beer at the Club, sipping a glass of wine with his many friends at Boca or Upstate, or enjoying one (or two) of Alex and Ika’s famed Cherry Valley Manhattans.
There were no strangers in Bobby’s life: Everybody he met became his friend. He and I got along well because he didn’t have a judgmental bone in his body and there wasn’t anyone he would not help. He spent his life paying it forward. He gave people the shirts off his back. I’m quite confident he’ll never have to pick up a tab inside the pearly gates.
Mr. Faller loved his large family more than anything, especially his two boys, of whom he was incredibly proud—Kevin and Tim, who called him dad. Harry and Elaine, his parents, called him Robert. Growing up in Port Jarvis as the runt of the litter, his five older siblings—Mark, Tracy, Beth, Jeffrey and Linda—called him Rob. They all took great care of him, as he did of them. Bobby was blessed to have a caring inner circle.
His Cooperstown family, which loved him unconditionally, knew him as Bobby Faller. The imprint he leaves behind is massive and permanent. He was a friend to many and universally beloved. So as you read this, raise a glass, give a toast, and smile as you think about all the kindness he sprinkled around the village on his life journey. RIP Bobby. You were the best.
Jeff Idelson lived in Cooperstown and worked for the Baseball Hall of Fame from 1994-2019, 2021, serving the last 12 years as president. Today he lives in San Francisco and is the co-founder of Grassroots Baseball, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and celebrate the amateur game around the globe, with a focus on growing interest and participation at the youngest levels.