The idea was to bring fans to Cooperstown. What about taking Cooperstown to the fans?
In the Age of COVID, the second sentence is a more intriguing one.
And it played out this week with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s annual announcement of the Induction Class of 2021.
While it turned out there was no one to announce this year, the MLB Network spent the afternoon transmitting the Hall’s various exhibits and attractions to a national audience.
The last few years, Hall of Fame presidents, first Jeff Idelson and, lately, Tim Mead, have been announcing classes from a sterile studio in Secaucus, N.J.
How much more of an impact comes from staging the event in the cathedral-like Hall of Plaques, sanctum santorum of America’s Pastime?
For years, the announcement was made at this time of year at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Participants had fun, but there was no place for baseball enthusiasts at large.
If, in fact, this catches on, there are possibilities not just for baseball – doing more with the Cooperstown Classic, perhaps – but for all the attractions around here.
Why not revive Doubleday Field concerts, fill the venue and broadcast or stream performances nationwide, for pleasure and profit? (Not Furthur, perhaps; the Bob Dylan and Paul
Simon concert were big hits, and relatively sedate.)
That Fenimore Museum gala a few years ago, hosted by Peggy Fleming and Dick Button and featuring dancing skaters on simulated ice in the heart of summer. With appropriate marketing, that certainly would have had a broad appeal.
Then there’s Glimmerglass Festival operas, the Cooperstown Summer Music Festival – in Oneonta, the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and numerous choruses.
The world awaits.
For now, the BBWAA’s announcement is an encouraging start.
If Class of 2021 members had actually been announced, the traditional press conference – convened a day later during Waldorf Astoria yesteryears – would have been done immediately after the announcement, via Zoom – much more immediate.
As we get more and more used to doing this virtually, promotions will change – they already have.
In addition to enticing in-person activities, Cooperstown and Otsego County, with so much to offer, is well positioned to capitalize on this new opportunity as well.