WEST ONEONTA – From the beginning, Marty Patton, Cooperstown All Star Village proprietor, had concerns about being able to operate safely as the coronavirus swept the nation.
“What if a coach comes in from out of the area, and the kids get infected?” he reflected the day after deciding it will be impossible to open his youth-baseball tournament venue on Route 205 this summer.
But many obstacles, he discovered over the past several weeks, were arrayed against a successful 2020 season that he’s been hoping, week by week, to launch since early May:
ONEONTA – Citing Governor Cuomo’s restrictions on overnight camps and other social-distancing measures, Cooperstown All-Star Village has announced that the remainder of the 2020 season has cancelled.
“We feel it will not have the same wonderful feeling, filled with memories that will last a lifetime,” Patton wrote in a statement on the camp’s website. “It’s important for us to deliver a safe and memorable experience for all in attendance. After considering all the possible alternatives we have regrettably made the decision to cancel the 2020 Season.”
WEST ONEONTA – Marty Patton, Cooperstown All Star Village proprietor, has announced the fourth week of the season has been cancelled.
In accordance to his plan to cancel the youth baseball season week-by-week a month in advance of the scheduled tournaments, Patton advised families and coaches scheduled to be here June 27-July 3 that there will be no play that week.
It may turn out Marty Patton made the right call, delaying opening of his Cooperstown All Star Village, the youth baseball tournament camp in West Oneonta, in hopes of salvaging at least some of the 2020 season.
Things are happening so quickly.
With this week’s Glimmerglass Fest cancellation, pretty much all of the major summer activities have been cancelled or delayed – mostly notably, of course, Derek Jeter’s July 26 Induction and the 2020 season of Patton’s competitor, Cooperstown Dreams Park.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus threat seems to be easing day to day, from New York City to Otsego County where, for now, there’s almost nothing left.
Patton’s strategy – cancelling the first week in June during the first week in May, etc. – may allow him to salvage two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, maybe more. He is emphatic, as every sensible person should be, that safety will guide any final decision.
Given where were are, it’s possible COVID-19 may be just an unhappy memory locally in a few weeks.
The pacing factor for Patton is where his teams are coming from: Detroit and Houston and Tucson and wherever the disease’s arrival came later.
When and where are questions Patton’s struggling with, as he should be. Let’s hope facts break his way, for the benefit of all of us.
WEST ONEONTA – Cooperstown Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary. Strike out.
Derek Jeter’s prospective Hall of Fame Induction July 26 in Cooperstown. Strike out.
Even the Baseball Hall of Fame is waiting in the dugout for now. For now, that leaves one Otsego County baseball institution in the game this summer: Cooperstown All Star Village on Route 205 here.
“We want to play baseball,” is how Marty Patton, All Star Village proprietor, explained his week-by-week strategy. “The kids want to play baseball. If it’s possible and it’s safe, why shouldn’t we have some hope?”
This week, he was sending letters cancelling play to the 70 teams sched-uled for what would have been the first week of the 2020 All Star Village season, beginning June 6.
For now, he said, the idea is to continue to cancel a month in advance, week by week, in hopes of being able to hold at least some of the tournaments later in the summer, depending on how the coronavirus threat plays out.
Patton, who was born and raised in Oneonta, took a markedly different approach to Dreams Park’s, the other youth tournament baseball camp.
Dreams Park, based in Salisbury, N.C., simply posted a message on its website Friday, March 20, announcing it was cancelling its season, to the dismay of restaurants and merchants in Oneonta and
Cooperstown, as well as hotels and dozens of property owners who rent out accommodations annually to hundreds of baseball families.
Patton said he enjoys the season, as do the kids, but he also took his neighbors and fellow businesspeople into account in making his decision.
Given his roots and Brenda’s, one of Oneonta’s Colones, “We could never walk out on the community or those wonderful people who are coming from all over to visit.”
On March 22, the weekend of Dreams Parks’ decision, he announced the week-to-week strategy. “Our reason behind this was, simply: we didn’t know enough back then (about how the COVID-19 threat was going to play out) to pull the plug,” he said.
So far, Patton said, “we’ve only had a handful of cancellations. It’s amazing. We’ve had many teams coming in June request to come in July or August. It tells you the strength of the Cooperstown brand.”
During their week, All Star Village teams visit the Hall of Fame and shop the souvenir and equipment shops on Baseball Mecca’s Main Street. “We also promote The Farmers’ Museum; it’s fabulous,” said Patton, who founded his tournament venue in 1996, three years after Lou Presutti Jr. started Dreams Park.
“We’re fortunate to have what we have in our community,” he said.
Some have said Dreams Park needed to decide early on whether or not to open,because it needed to hire staff.
Patton said, for him, that’s not a problem. “Seventy-five percent of our staff comes back every year,” he said.
To our Cooperstown All Star family of players, coaches, umpires, guests and employees
The health and safety of Cooperstown All Star Village players, coaches, umpires, guests and employees is our highest priority. As we continue to actively monitor developments related to coronavirus (COVID-19) we want to assure you that Cooperstown All Star Village is taking all necessary health and safety precautions in accordance with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and New York State health officials for our players, coaches, umpires, guests and employees.
In an effort to carry on the Cooperstown experience that our players, coaches and umpires have planned for and fund-raised for several years. We have made a decision regarding the 2020 tournament (assuming that our Nation is going through this self imposed quarantine) four weeks in advance of each week. Starting the first week in May (leaving family’s, players, coaches and umpires a full month before the first week tournament begins), we will let everyone know via our website, Facebook and emails to coaches whether we will open or cancel that week, obviously if we are open the first week the other weeks will be open as well. Our goal is to give our players the Cooperstown experience they have planned for and fund raised for.
For those of you wondering how we will handle your refund, should we cancel a week or the entire season we will give you two options, All teams will receive a 100% refund or the option of future participation. This policy remains the same for our on site hotel guests. As stated we will not be making that decision until the first week in May in an effort to give our players the chance to participate in what they have worked so hard for.
The most important thing we can do as Americans is remain calm, follow the rules set forth by your state and our federal government and remember we are all in this together. We will come through this!
Our community is ready to welcome all of our baseball families with open arms. God bless you all and God bless America and the World.
On this week’s “Morning Headlines” on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, Jim Kevlin, editor/ publisher of www.AllOTSEGO.com (and Hometown Oneonta & the Freeman’s Journal), reports Dreams Park and Cooperstown All-Star Village families are falling in love with Otsego County and buying homes they plan to rent, pay off and move here on their retirements. The Mellanas of La Habra, Calif, are a case in point.