Ed Townsend | Democrat
Tri-Valley’s baseball team, coaches and student managers gather in front of the entrance to historic Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Story by Ed Townsend
COOPERSTOWN May 24, 2013 For the Tri-Valley baseball team as well as two accompanying sixth graders, the history of baseball came into clearer focus Monday after playing a non-league game on Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, the "Birthplace of Baseball."
For the players, the game against Ellenville certainly seemed to bow in importance to the thrill of playing on the baseball field named after Abner Doubleday, who has been called the founder of baseball.
Each year from 1940 to 2008, Doubleday Field hosted the Hall of Fame game, an exhibition match-up of two major league teams traditionally played during the annual induction weekend at the nearby Baseball Hall of Fame.
Major League Baseball put a stop to the game after the 2008 season citing scheduling difficulties and the fact that there was now inter-league play which was formerly featured at the Hall of Fame game.
Doubleday field employees said the attempt to get a minor league team to play in Doubleday Field fell through in 1996 and the fact that the park does not have lights precludes the possibility of this ever happening.
In 2010 the Cooperstown Hawkeyes, a collegiate league team, made Doubleday Field its home park and plays a full schedule there each summer.
Also, an annual Major League Old Timers game takes place at Doubleday over Father's Day weekend.
High school teams are free to schedule games at Doubleday, as Tri-Valley and Ellenville have done in recent years. Usually, such non-league games are played toward the end of the season.
The Tri-Valley and Ellenville fans who make the trip to Cooperstown stood and admired the famous entrance to Doubleday Field and the covered grandstand behind home plate, which looks the same as it did 50 years ago with no individual seats, just wooden benches with backs.
Doubleday Field opened in 1939 and now has metal bleacher seats down both foul lines. The outfield also contains bleachers about 10 row deep from right field to center field. Capacity at Doubleday Field is 9,800.
Those attending or playing in Monday’s game could somehow feel the integrity, passion and spirit that this historic baseball field spawns.
The honor of being the official left-field electric scoreboard operators for the game was bestowed upon Tri-Valley sixth graders Drew Harman and Joe Quick. They served as managers for the school football team and were asked to perform this job by Tri-Valley Coach John Rusin.
Tri-Valley started the game off quickly in the first inning scoring two runs, but the Blue Devils came back strong in their half of the first inning scored six runs as Bears starting pitcher Rodney T. Jester suffered control problems resulting in a number of passed balls.
Jester was replaced by Justin Swarthout who pitched 6.2 innings of relief allowing just two hits while recording seven strikeouts.
Each team added runs to their totals through the next couple of innings and with the scored tied at 8-8 in the bottom of the fourth, Jester scored putting the Bears on top to stay 9-8. They added an insurance run in their half of the seventh inning to seal the 10-8 victory.
For Tri-Valley, Jester went 3-for-4 with three RBI's, Mike Foster went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI's and Andrew Exner added three RBI's for the Bears.
A. J. Rodriguez blasted an RBI double for Ellenville.
The win boosted Tri-Valley's overall record to 11-8.
After the game, both teams toured the Baseball Hall of Fame.