06/30/2013 10:34 AM
Cooperstown's Doubleday Field
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.—In many respects, the surge in popularity of baseball at the summer-league level in recent years parallels the spike in popularity of the game in the minor leagues a quarter century ago.
Every community in America, it seems, wants a baseball team to call its own—even one as historically relevant as the Village of Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Cooperstown Hawkeyes, are currently in their fourth year of operation, and third as members of the 10-team, New York-based Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
While the number of teams that fall under the jurisdiction of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (i.e., Minor League Baseball) is limited because of the number of affiliates each major-league team chooses to have, and numbers roughly 180 in all, the growth in summer-college teams has no limiting factor, and the number of leagues and teams throughout the country (and Canada) has grown exponentially in recent years. Today there are some 35 recognized summer leagues, with upwards of 300 teams.
Because no national organization exists to monitor the wave of unchecked expansion and impart minimum ballpark standards, such as exist at the professional level, summer-league teams are occupying facilities of all shapes and sizes—some old, some new, some just plain unique. Many of the facilities are inadequate by professional baseball’s strict stadium standards, or by any ballpark standard.
Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field is historic by any measure, from its old-time construction dating to the 1920s, to its location in the heart of Cooperstown (just a block and a half from the Hall of Fame), to its cozy home run dimensions.
Once the home base of the annual Hall of Fame game matching two big-league teams that was a staple of the Hall of Fame ceremonies for years until the contest was recently abandoned, the near 10,000-seat facility lives on as the home of the Hawkeyes, instantly making it one of the more famous summer league fields in use around the country.
To read the full article on the Perfect Game web site, click here.