The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Archive for the tag “Cooperstown New York”

Ten Facts About Cooperstown, New York

Virtually every baseball fan knows that the Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, New York.  But what do we know about Cooperstown, N.Y.?  I’ve been to Cooperstown a couple of times, though it’s been nearly twenty years since I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Hall of Fame.  I thought I might take a few minutes to see what kind of information I could uncover about Cooperstown.  Here are some facts I’ve decided to share with you:

Cooperstown, New York

Cooperstown, New York (Photo credit: Dougtone)

1)  Cooperstown is not named for the writer, James Fenimore Cooper (although the author did live and pen some of his stories, such as “The Last of the Mohicans,” in Cooperstown.  It is actually named for his father, William Cooper, who founded this town in the late 1780’s (though it first became officially incorporated in 1812.)

2)  Cooperstown Dreams Park was established in 1996, and the Youth Baseball League it serves features up to 1,350 teams competing per season.  The season lasts from the end of May until the end of August.

3)  The population of Cooperstown is 1,833, down nearly ten percent since the year 2000.  The population of Cooperstown is 91% white.  There are six black families and one resident of full-blooded Native-American ancestry. Females outnumber males 55% to 45%.  There is one registered sex offender in town limits.

4)  About one-quarter of the people of Cooperstown walk to work.  That’s very cool, except in the winter.

5)  Approximately 35% of the population are affiliated with a religious congregation.  Nationally, about 51% of Americans are affiliated with a particular religious congregation.  A plurality in Cooperstown are Catholics (43%.)

6)  The most common first name among deceased individuals in Cooperstown is Mary.  The most common last name among deceased individuals is Smith.  I would suggest that if your name is Mary Smith, you might want to avoid Cooperstown.  On the other hand, you would have a life expectancy of 81.5 years old.

7)  The first speeding ticket issued in Cooperstown was given out in 1906.

8)  No one born in Cooperstown has ever played Major League baseball.

9)  Company G of the 176th Infantry Regiment of New York was recruited from Otsego County (in which Cooperstown is located), as well as a few of the other surrounding counties.  They saw action in Virginia, North Carolina and Louisiana.  The majority of casualties this regiment suffered occurred at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia in 1864.

10)  The last public hanging in Cooperstown took place in December 1827.  The man condemned to death was a first cousin of James Fenimore Cooper named Levi Kelley, convicted of killing his tenant, Abraham Spafard.  While the hangman was putting the noose around Kelley’s neck, the grandstand collapsed under the weight of the crowd of onlookers, killing one person and mortally wounding another.  The execution, however, went on as scheduled.


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Ten Facts About the Baseball Hall of Fame

After today’s disappointing BBWAA Hall of Fame voting results, I’ve decided to avoid commenting on that issue directly, but to instead make a simple list of ten facts about The Hall that will be (hopefully) less depressing to read.

So here are ten facts you may or may not already know about the Baseball Hall of Fame:

1)  The HOF is located in Cooperstown, New York, which is hundreds of miles from nowhere.  If you wanted to make a place less accessible, you would have to choose a location perhaps somewhere in  Albania.

2)  The current Chairperson of the Board of the Hall of Fame is 58-year old Jane Forbes Clark.  In the early 1930’s, her grandfather, Stephen Clark, was one of a band of conspirators who attempted to bribe two-time Medal of Honor winner marine General Smedley Butler (shown below) into leading a right-wing fascist coup de’ tat against newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt.  The money to purchase the weapons to be used (provided by Remington Arms, where my dad worked for over 20-years) was to be fronted by, among others, the Dupont Corporation, and the House of J.P. Morgan.  The plot collapsed when General Butler informed certain members of Congress about the plans for this coup.  Also allegedly involved in the plot was future Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, grandfather of President George W. Bush, who would, of course, go on to own the Texas Rangers baseball team.

3)  A few years after this coup plot, the Clark family, the most prominent family in Cooperstown, bought into the idea of a baseball Hall of Fame, proposed by Clark’s business partner Alexander Cleland, in part as a way to counter some of the negative publicity (little though it was) regarding the coup attempt.

4)  Jane Forbes Clark’s great, great-grandfather helped start the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which, like Remington Arms, was also in my hometown of Bridgeport, CT.  She still uses a Singer sewing machine today.  That company was the genesis of the (enormous) Clark family fortune.

5)  The building that today is the Baseball Hall of Fame was originally a high school gymnasium.

6)  Cooperstown’s normal population is just 2,200 people, but on HOF induction weekend, it swells to over 30,000.  The HOF’s annual operating budget is 12 million dollars, and it has a full-time staff of 100 people.

7)  The Baseball Hall of Fame has three floors, over 38,000 artifacts (of which only a small percentage are ever available for viewing), 2.6 million library items and over 130,000 baseball cards, (but I’ll bet they don’t have this one.)

On the back of this card, we learn that “George likes marshmallow milkshakes.”

8)  The Baseball Hall of Fame first opened its doors in 1939.  In that year, future Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Lou Brock and Phil Niekro would each be born.  Also, Hitler would launch WWII.

9)  One baseball HOF’er, Catfish Hunter, has no team represented on his baseball cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.  He refused to choose between the A’s and the Yankees because he was on good terms with both teams and didn’t want to offend either of them.

10)  In eight of the past ten years, the Baseball Hall of Fame has operated at a financial deficit.  In 2011, The Hall posted a two million dollar net loss.  Dozens of area businesses depend either entirely or in large part on the tourists who come to Cooperstown for the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Public services, in turn, which depend on tax receipts, can also be negatively impacted by a local economy hurt by a lack of tourists.  One has to wonder if the voting members of the BBWAA took that possibility into account when they self-righteously decided to punish the entire class of 2013 for the transgressions of some of their contemporaries.

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