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New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks about the value of team sports and historic spaces at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Photo by Wriley Nelson)

Governor On Hand for Doubleday Ribbon-Cutting


Governor Kathy Hochul visited Cooperstown on Monday, July 17 to officially unveil the new renovations at historic Doubleday Field. Hochul, Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, State Senator Peter Oberacker, Assemblyman Chris Tague and Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch spoke on the history of Doubleday, the restoration project and the continuing importance of baseball.

The speeches and ribbon-cutting ceremony were originally scheduled to take place at the field entrance, but air quality concerns forced the event to move to the Hall of Fame’s Grandstand Theater. Local politicians, Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field donors, and Cooperstown High School baseball and softball players attended.

Hochul arrived at the Hall of Fame around 2 p.m. and began her speech with a brief update about the statewide air quality alert. She reflected on her previous visits to Cooperstown, both as lieutenant governor and in her current position, and celebrated the positive signs of a post-COVID tourism recovery. Hochul shared her lifelong interest in baseball and said she was excited to help preserve the history of a classic American institution.

“Throwing out the first pitch at a New York/Toronto game was the most stressful moment of my life,” she said. “I got up at 6 for weeks to practice; my family kept telling me, ‘don’t embarrass us, Mom.’”

Tillapaugh provided context for the event, giving a brief rundown of Doubleday history and the restoration project initiated in 2017. The Village of Cooperstown leased the lot from Alexander Phinney in 1919 and volunteers built the first baseball field on the site. In 1923, a special election by village taxpayers authorized the purchase of the grounds.

“The taxpayers recognized the importance of creating an official home for baseball, and they did that 16 years before the Hall of Fame opened,” Tillapaugh said. “It became the bedrock of the local tourism industry.”

A New Deal Works Progress Administration project of 1938 gave the field a major facelift, including the construction of the grandstand, in time for the inaugural Hall of Fame festivities in May 1939.

The restoration project, largely funded by New York State grants, was initially planned to finish before the July 2020 induction of Derek Jeter. The pandemic thwarted the induction, but the two major goals of the project—restoration of the 1939 grandstand and construction of ADA-compliant entrances—were still completed on time. Problems with soil quality under the proposed third-base line bleachers delayed that part of the project and added more than $600,000.00 to the final cost. The attractive, accessible new seating opened to the public last month.

Oberacker and Tague each gave brief remarks on the field’s critical importance to local tourism and athletics. They thanked Hochul repeatedly for her attention and investment in the long-term viability of rural upstate communities. Both legislators also called for the village and state to take aggressive steps to bring back annual Major League games at Doubleday.

“Cooperstown stands for the game. It’s about America. It’s about New York,” Tague concluded.



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