We arrived at Doubleday Field, Cooperstown just after 5:00pm to find the gates locked. From the main gate next to the bleachers behind home plate, I could see parts of the field and listened as water flowed under the first base bleachers. I was sort of expecting the field to be closed, since it was late in the day and later still in the baseball season of 2021. Not knowing much about the field, I’m not sure how much use it gets with local or even national youth or amateur baseball leagues throughout the year. I was optimistic that Doubleday Field would be open on Friday when we visited the Hall of Fame. And perhaps someone at the Hall would know a guy who knew a gal who knew a guy who could get me inside the park for some photos. Wishful thinking and I grabbed a few photos outside the park at or around sunset.
According to an online blog by the Syracuse University Press, “The Sandlot Kid” was placed in front of Doubleday Field (dubbed “The Birthplace of Baseball) in 1940. It is a tall pedastled statue of a young lad preparing to hit a baseball in the 1800s.“
Similar to many structures built in Rhode Island, including iconic Cardines Field, Newport the Works Progress Administration was responsible for the reconstruction of Doubleday Field, Cooperstown.
I knew I wasn’t just hearing water noises! This canal under the bleachers and walkway at Doubleday Field helps paint a beautiful picture of fall in Cooperstown.
Walking through the parking lot at Doubleday Field, Rachel and I observed the many, many businesses surrounding the park that excite and engage baseball fans of all ages. Souvenir shops, batting cages, ice cream parlors, coffee shops – all within walking distance of Doubleday Field. And like the park, all of them closed when we arrived. Not to worry though, we took inventory of all the places we wanted to explore on Friday, remaining optimistic like the field, that they would be open for viewing.
As the sun was setting, we walked the brick walkway out of the Doubleday Field parking lot and onto Main St. Clean does not begin to describe how clean the Village of Cooperstown is/was. No coffee cups, no cigarette butts, no paper, no discarded face masks, no sign of trash anywhere except in the designated receptacles on the sidewalk. The town, the businesses, the mindset – a clean town is inviting and welcoming. There were street signs marking historical landmarks. The businesses had menus in their windows and clean glass so you could peer into them and fall decorations galore. Sure, the majority of businesses that were open were food and drink places. As with the businesses around Doubleday Field, Rachel and I took a long walk up and down Main St to get a sense of the businesses in town we hoped would be open on Friday.
If you are here, you are lucky indeed. It was fun to Explore Cooperstown at night in October.
Business owners had tons of great window displays that really caught my eye, like this one with the bat rack. I happen to own a Louisville Slugger wooden bat! And I recognize a bat from “The Natural” on this rack as well.
Shortly after I learned how to write my name in Kindergarten, I learned how to write “Yastrzemski.” Just in case I was asked to write down who my favorite baseball player was and why I always insisted on batting left handed and wearing the number 8! This store was a must see on Friday’s agenda.
After walking up Main St, locating the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, crossing the street where the Cooperstown Post Office is, and peering into souvenir shops and book stores, Rachel and I started to get hungry. We had noticed a few places along the way into the Village so we started back to the car in the Doubleday Field. There was an alley which appeared to be a short cut to the parking lot, so we took it and found the Pioneer Patio Restaurant all lit up and open for business. April greeted us with a big hello and escorted us to a table on the patio next to a giant propane heater, which put out a ton of heat! The food was awesome, April was incredibly friendly and gracious, the service was excellent. If you or your entire team are travelling to Cooperstown for a tournament, definitely check out the Pioneer Patio Restaurant. They can accommodate two or 102 people!
The Pioneer Patio Restaurant, serving the Cooperstown community and visitors for “34 summers of brats, beer, and baseball.” 46 Pioneer St, Cooperstown, NY. 607.544.1076
I saw a couple next to us drinking a “Bambino American Ale” and thought I would try one. April gave me one to gift to my friend Linda Ruth Tosetti, the Bambino’s granddaughter.
Of course, April had a really cool baseball story to tell me once I told her why was I in Cooperstown. A famous patron who was recently at the Baseball Hall of Fame doing a photo shoot paid a visit to the Pioneer Patio. Want to know who it was? Visit the Pioneer Patio and ask April to tell you the story while you enjoy a fantastic experience on the Patio.
As we departed the Village area, Rachel and I both took a deep breath of one of the most welcoming towns we had ever visited. The roads were clean, the potted plants were placed symmetrically on the steps of businesses, the sidewalks had informational signs, the street lights brightened up the village like a movie set. The Village of Cooperstown is a story itself. I know the draw there is the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But the shops, the cafes, the restaurants, the book stores – they are all in on the visitor game as well. The village and its people and its businesses welcome you with open arms and you can just feel the love brick by brick as you walk up and down Main St. What an incredible experience – the night life of Cooperstown, NY.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Road Trip to Cooperstown, NY which will feature how Rhode Island teams, players, and organizations made it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.