Watching the field in Cooperstown

There's much more to this village than baseball
An aerial view of the village of Cooperstown.
An aerial view of the village of Cooperstown.

COOPERSTOWN — If there’s any town that can be thought of like a baseball game, it’s Cooperstown.

The focus of baseball is the eternal battle between pitcher and hitter, the strikeouts and the home runs.

But, take a wider look at the game and there’s interest beyond, both in the game and out. What about the fielders? The runners? Where’s that hot dog vendor? Did you see what that mascot just did?

To those who know nothing else about Cooperstown, the focus is on the Hall of Fame (it is almost induction weekend, after all) and the game’s greats. 

But, look closer, and there’s plenty of other attractions of interest going on, too, from boat rides on Otsego Lake, historic hotels and museums.

Cooperstown is home to two other museums, besides the big baseball museum. There’s both the Farmers’ Museum, which showcases a different kind of field, and the Fenimore Art Museum that deals in paint strokes, rather than bat strokes.

Each of the village’s museums fits into the village’s larger theme of American history and culture, according to Deb Taylor, executive director of Otsego County tourism.

“I think that ties us — baseball, the Farmers’ Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum — together — is the authentic Americana experience that you have when you visit Cooperstown,” Taylor said.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is located at the end of Main Street in the village, while the Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum are located across from each other on the outskirts of town.

The Farmers’ Museum site has been a working farm for 200 years, according to its site, and was owned by James Fenimore Cooper. The museum opened in 1944.

Visitors can see an example of how a farm looked in the mid-1800s through planting and harvest, as well as animals. There’s also a 19th century village and “America’s Greatest Hoax” the Cardiff Giant.

Across the way, on the site of the old James Fenimore Cooper farmhouse, is the Fenimore Art Museum. The museum offers examples of American fine art, folk art and Indian art, among others.

Schenectady’s Roger Diamond has been to all three museums at some point or another. He recalled going to the Farmers’ Museum as a child and learning how to weave. 

He also recalled going to the Farmers’ Museum with his son’s classmates and the children being fascinated, especially by the blacksmith.

“If the Farmers’ Museum can keep the attention of five 5th grade boys, that’s something!” Diamond wrote to the Gazette in a tweet. ” And have them ask questions, too.”

Diamond has also been to the Hall of Fame multiple times and went to the Fenimore Art Museum once.

“If you have young kids between the ages of 8 and 14, boys or girls, baseball fans or not, definitely go,” Diamond said by phone. “There’s something for everybody.”

Each of the museums offers two- and three-way passes to send visitors to the other museums. 

Otsego County tourism works to get the word out about everything happening in Cooperstown and outside of it through its website

Taylor said they see an equal interest on their site in baseball activities as in family fun, arts and culture and other areas.

Visitors also can get around to each easily via the village’s trolley system, which runs daily in the summer.

Taylor called the Capital Region a great area for Cooperstown, as visitors can travel to the village for the day or a weekend.

“We’re not that big, so once you’re in Cooperstown and you go to the Baseball Hall of Fame or you’re at Dreams Park, it’s not hard to find out what else there is to do here,” Taylor said.

They can focus on one area, or take in the entire field.

Categories: Life and Arts

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