Heading to Cooperstown: Tauck’s Baseball Hall of Fame Event
Posted by Rich Mancini
Celebrating America’s Pastime – and the Hall of Fame’s 75th – with The Tauck Baseball Event
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Ken Burns, Tauck Events, Museums
For Major League Baseball players and managers, “going to Cooperstown” – making it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame – is the absolute pinnacle of a career in our national pastime. Of approximately 17,000 ballplayers who’ve played in the major leagues since the 1870s, and thousands more from the Negro Leagues, fewer than 300 have been elected to the Hall of Fame. And for so many fans of the game – including this one – just visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in the village of Cooperstown, New York, is a big deal. After all, this is where baseball’s greats are enshrined… where its history and defining moments are chronicled… where its greatest treasures are preserved and displayed… where devotion to the game and its lore is passed down from one generation to the next. For anyone who loves baseball and appreciates its role in American culture, this is the
place to be.
So what would it be like if someone took this iconic baseball destination and made it the center of a one-of-a-kind event that brought fans together with Hall of Fame players, baseball historians and other experts – including Ken Burns, the filmmaker who created the acclaimed documentaries Baseball and The Tenth Inning – for four days spent celebrating the game they love, with all kinds of exclusive experiences… from VIP behind-the-scenes visits and private time for Tauck guests only in the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, to (weather permitting) a “pickup game” with Hall of Famers on historic Doubleday Field? Pretty amazing, right?
Right... and that’s just how I would describe the first Tauck Baseball Event last June in Cooperstown. And this July 31 – August 3, The Tauck Baseball Event: America’s Pastime will prove even more amazing than the first. Along with an opportunity to meet Ken Burns during a private evening at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and chances to meet and mingle with MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, other former players and experts, Tauck guests will help celebrate the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 75th Anniversary with specially reserved seating at the Hall of Fame’s 75th Anniversary Concert at Cooperstown’s Clark Sports Center... featuring Grammy-winning recording artists including music legend Paul Simon, gospel performer Yolanda Adams, Latin Grammy-winner Juan Luis Guerra, guitarist and former Yankees All-Star Bernie Williams, and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.
From the moment guests began arriving at the historic Otesaga Resort in Cooperstown for 2013’s Tauck Baseball Event, it was pretty clear that something very special was about to happen. They came from all over the country – Dodger fans, Reds fans, Sox fans, Yankee fans and so many others, representing a wide range of team allegiances, ages and generations (including some three-generation families, too). They came with smiles on their faces, proudly wearing their team caps, logos and colors, ready to celebrate America’s national pastime in a way many of us could once only have dreamed of… and I say “us,” because I was one of them.
Celebrate we did, right from the start, delighted by presentations from some fascinating special guests. They included noted author, journalist and Rotisserie Baseball inventor Dan Okrent’s equally inventive spin on the game’s statistics, “Baseball by the Numbers”; former 1950s All-American Girls Professional Baseball League catcher Lois Youngen’s wonderful anecdotes on what life was really like in “a league of their own”; and former MLB outfielder, author and ESPN analyst Doug Glanville’s insightful take on a life in baseball, from Little League to Ivy League to the majors and beyond. In every case, we listened, laughed, learned, and chatted with these folks whom baseball had touched in different ways… and we loved it.
Magic was truly in the air at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum itself, as we viewed treasured baseball artifacts in a private showing in the Hall’s Bullpen Theater, and enjoyed a glimpse behind the scenes at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center with HOF librarian Jim Gates. But the clincher was Ken Burns’s keynote address in the Hall’s Grandstand Theater. As I sat listening to Ken’s moving remarks on how our love of baseball is passed on from one generation to the next – while he held his young daughter on his lap – I had to look around to see if I was the only one with moist eyes; I wasn’t. And if that wasn’t enough, we capped the evening with dessert and drinks among the plaques of baseball’s greats… along with the company of Ken Burns and Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Phil Niekro… while having the Hall’s exhibits all to ourselves. Not something that happens every day.
But even those moments may have been eclipsed by the once-in-a-lifetime experience (available to all Tauck guests… men, women and children alike) of playing the game we love on hallowed ground – the diamond of Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field – with the likes of Ozzie Smith, Phil Niekro, Doug Glanville and Ken Burns. Imagine hanging in there against Niekro’s knuckleball and making it to first (albeit after what seemed like a million foul balls)… advancing to second on a single by a very happy (and competitive) 10-year-old guest… then chugging along to third until finally being tagged out by “The Wizard of Oz” (who throws an arm around you and cheerfully asks, “Hey, are you tired?”). I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming it; I wasn’t.
Later, meeting and talking to these legends at our private lakeside barbecue on the lawn of the Otesaga confirmed the feeling that we had all experienced something very, very special throughout The Tauck Baseball Event… sharing moments that few of us baseball fans – no matter what team we root for – would ever forget.