Baseball fans flock to Cooperstown for induction weekend

·3 min read

Jul. 22—Baseball fans of all ages began converging on Cooperstown Friday for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.

Brennan Ryan traveled to Cooperstown with his dad, Chris, from Concord, New Hampshire, to attend the induction ceremony and participate in Ozzie Smith's PLAY Ball instructional program. Brennan said he was a fan of Smith and learned "how to turn double plays."

The father and son were inside Where it All Began Bat Company to buy a new bat for Brennan and both were eager to see David Ortiz inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Main Street was closed to traffic Friday, and will be closed Saturday and Sunday to allow pedestrians access to the Hall of Fame, souvenir shops and restaurants.

Souvenir shops and restaurants were busy early Friday afternoon with tourists there for induction weekend and kids and their families attending baseball camps in nearby Hartwick and Oneonta.

Molly Hughes, who works at Yastrzemski Sports, said she was looking forward to induction weekend. She said she noticed an uptick in tourists this year compared to the past two years that were low due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roger, who wouldn't give his last name because he was skipping work, and Sharon Dunbar were visiting on a park bench about baseball and the players they have met.

Roger, who was wearing a Cincinnati Reds jersey, said he has been coming to Cooperstown for years for induction weekend, "except for the last two years. I come for the autographs and to see and meet and talk to the players. I love to meet people, especially other baseball fans."

He said he thought the crowd was lighter than it had been in the past.

Dunbar, a Detroit Tigers fan, said she came in 2018 when Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were inducted into the hall. "I like to meet the players," she said.

This year, she was back to meet players and give them a book her nephew wrote about a Detroit Tigers cap that was worn first by Alex Avila and then by him. Jonathan Turnbull, who was serving in the U.S. Army, received the hat after he threw out a first pitch before a Tigers game, she said.

Turnbull took the hat with him to serve overseas and was severely injured by an ISIS attack in Syria, she said. "Doctors gave him a 0% chance to live," she said. "It was a miracle."

Turnbull got his hat back and has written two books about his life, she said. She had several books that she was eager to give to former major league players.

Harry Dapre III, his son, Harry Dapre IV and his son's friend Julian Waters, all of Utica, were hoping to meet former players to get their baseballs autographed. Father and son were wearing Derek Jeter jerseys and said they were able to get his autograph in past years. Both said Jeter was their favorite player of all time, while the younger Dapre said Aaron Judge is his current favorite player. Waters said his favorite player is Rafael Devers, even though he is not a Red Sox fan.

Harry III said he has brought his son to Cooperstown the past 13 years to try to get autographs and one year they got 14 to 15 balls signed. "If you like baseball, Cooperstown is the place to be," he said.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.