BY MICHELLE MILLER
The celebration of fathers and families over Father’s Day Weekend will return for a fourth consecutive year, but the schedule has changed slightly.
The Hall of Fame Classic at Doubleday Field will no longer be played on Father’s Day; it will be played on Saturday instead.
When the change was announced, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Jeff Idelson said it came after looking at data that showed more people would be able to attend if the date were changed.
“We are just fine-tuning what is already a successful event,” Idelson said.
By hosting the game on Saturday, Idelson said, it will allow people to spend the day at home with their fathers.
There may be instances where the father cannot be in the area for the game, or the father can be in the area and not the children – this enables them to do both, Idelson said.
“We believe that the switch to Saturday enables a larger potential pool of families to experience this wonderful Cooperstown tradition,” he said. “We look forward to buildingon the successes of the first three Classic events in 2012.”
According to a HOF media release, the seven-inning exhibition will feature six Hall of Famers (Bert Blyleven, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, Phil Niekro, Tony Pérez and OzzieSmith) and more than 20 former major league players. The game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. The players will divide into two teams, the Knucksies and Wizards. Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Ozzie Smith will return as team captains.
“We have experienced great success with the Hall of Fame Classic and Classic Weekend in its first three years, with the support of visitors, the game’s players, Ford Motor Company, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and the entire Cooperstown community,” Idelson said in a media releasse.
The Cooperstown Game Day Parade will lead off Saturday’s festivities at noon on Main Street, featuring the game’s participants and dignitaries. The Classic Hitting Contest will precede the game’s first pitch at 1 p.m., according to the release.
According to officials, other activities planned for Classic Weekend include a Hall of Fame golf tournament fundraiser for the museum, the Youth Skills Clinic hosted by several former major league players, a special “Voices of the Game” program featuring Hall of Fame members, the fan-favorite Family Catch onDoubleday Field, and other unique programs throughout the museum.
Idelson said family catch has been a popular event and provides a great opportunity for baseball fans to step on the famed ground of Doubleday Field. It provides an opportunity to tread on the same ground as legends such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams, he said.
The 2012 Hall of Fame Classic, presented by Ford Motor Co., will once again be hostedin conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players’ Alumni Association. Tickets are still available and will be sold on game day at the Will Call Tent in the Doubleday Field Parking Lot starting at 9 a.m.
The 2012 Hall of Fame Classic Weekend schedule will include:
FRIDAY, JUNE 15
4 p.m.: The Legends for Youth Skills Clinic returns to Doubleday Field as former big leaguers provide on-field advice to children ages 5 to 12. The Legends for Youth Skills Clinic runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Registration is free, but must be reserved in advance by calling 547-0397.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16
9:30 a.m.: Have your picture taken with the Hall of Fame legends in attendanceat Doubleday Field at the Hall of Fame Member Photo event. A $50 donation in support of the Museum’s educational programs will be accepted. The event is sold out.
Noon: The Hall of Fame Classic Game Day Parade begins on Main Street and features the Hall of Famers and former major leaguers who will play in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Parade ends at Doubleday Field.
1 p.m.: The Hall of Fame Classic Hitting Challenge will match Hall of Fame Classic sluggers against one anotheras they vie for the title on at Doubleday Field. Admission to the Hitting Challenge is included with a ticket to the Hall of Fame Classic.
2 p.m.: The Hall of Fame Classic is a seven-inning legends game featuring Hall of Famers and more than 20 other retired major leaguers. The contest is held at Doubleday Field.
7 p.m.: A special Father’s Day Weekend edition of our Voices of the Game series will be held at Doubleday Field. The program starts at 7 p.m. at Doubleday Field, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 547-0397.
SUNDAY, JUNE 17
9 to 11 a.m.: In honor of Father’s Day, the Hall of Fame will host a “Family Catch” at Doubleday Field to allow parents and kids to enjoy one of baseball’s timeless traditions. A limited number of participants can reserve a spot on the field in 20-minute intervals for this free event. Tickets are available by calling (866) 849-7770 or by visiting baseballhall.org.
Tickets will be available on gameday starting at 9 a.m. in the Doubleday Field Parking Lot. Ticket prices for the Classic will be $12.50 for first- and third-base seats and $11 for outfield seats. For more information, call 547-0397.
A special fundraising opportunity for the museum will also return for a third year as part of the Hall of Fame Classic Weekend, as the Cooperstown Golf Classic will be held on Sunday, June 17.
Featuring a golf experience with Hall of Fame members, the Golf Classic is an exclusive VIP experience look at the Hall of Fame through the lens of golf, with only a few spots still remaining. For information, call 547-0310