Cal Ripken Jr. to be honored in July
Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 12:10 a.m.
As soon as Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. announced his retirement from Major League Baseball in 2002, fans began making arrangements to attend his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Everyone knew he was a shoo-in, even if his induction wasn't made official until last week. Now, fans who plan to attend the summer ceremony will need Ironman-like perseverance to get a hotel reservation. Better move like you're stealing third.
Those include a baseball-themed round-table discussion; a fundraiser hosted by 2002 Hall inductee Ozzie Smith; a trivia contest and Q&A session with former players; and a private dinner that draws legions of fans to a red carpet-style entrance to see their favorite stars. There will also be a minor league baseball game featuring Ripken's Aberdeen IronBirds.
Like some of the weekend's events, the 1:30 p.m. induction ceremony is free to the public, and no tickets are required.
Cooperstown is a village with little lodging, all of which was booked eons ago by induction ceremony regulars, Horn said. In fact, by mid-spring most accommodations within an hour's drive of Cooperstown will be spoken for.
The closest town with some availability at press time is Oneonta, 22 miles away, but it's expected to fill quickly. One choice there is Hartwick College (607-431-4547), a private university that offers its dormitory rooms for $120 per room per night. Each room has two twin beds.
For more options, expand your search to nearby cities, including Utica (45 minutes from Cooperstown) and Syracuse and Binghamton (1 1/2 hours). The Super 8 Utica (309 N. Genesee St., 315-797-0964) has rooms from $179. The Econo Lodge (145 E. Whitesboro St., 315-337-9400) in Rome - 1 hour 15 minutes away - has rooms from $89.99, including continental breakfast.
Even spots at RV parks and cabins sell out. Deer Haven Campground and Cabins (607-433-9654) in Oneonta had just six log cabins ($150 a night with a five-night minimum) and less than a dozen RV spots ($35 a night) left as of press time. Renckens noted that tent camping sites rarely sell out.
Consider going the package route: Specialty tour operator Sports Travel and Tours (800-662-4424, www.sportstravelandtours.com) has a deal that includes round-trip bus transportation from Baltimore, three nights' lodging, admission to the Hall of Fame museum and breakfasts, from $475 per person double. Pay an extra $220, and you get a guaranteed seat among veteran players and their families at the induction ceremony.
The Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce (607-547-9983, www.cooperstownchamber.org) keeps tabs on availability at hotels and inns and links to the convention and visitors bureaus in other counties and cities on its Web site.
That's a better time to tour the Hall of Fame's three-floor museum ($14.50), with its baseball memorabilia, movies and artwork. Don't miss cruising the gallery filled with plaques commemorating each inductee and a clip of comedians Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" shtick.
Elsewhere in and around Cooperstown, you can explore the well-known American and folk art exhibits at Cooperstown's Fenimore Art Museum, hit the batting cages at the Doubleday Batting Range, cruise the Erie Canal (30 minutes from Cooperstown) or stop by the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta.
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