Thoughts on Cooperstown, NY

I spent Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning in Cooperstown, NY this week. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum served as the impetus for my trip. And the Hall was glorious. In addition to seeing the Hall of Fame I also toured Brewery Ommegang, watched baseball at Doubleday Field, and spent some time relaxing at Lakefront Park. Here are a few thoughts on my stay in Cooperstown.

Cooperstown is a paradox. It is a sleepy little town that is bustling with activity. Just off of Main Street there are cottages, many of them Bed and Breakfast Inns, with interesting designs and great perennial borders. On Sunday when I walking from Main Street to my motel I saw an elderly woman deadheading perennials in front of one of these cottages, and I stopped to compliment her gardens. She appreciated having her handiwork appreciated. Every time I saw her over the next two days (yes, it’s a small town, you run into the same people frequently) she had something to say to me.

A Cooperstown cottage with a well-maintained perennial border.

I love that baseball is the dominant theme in this town. The stores, restaurants, and road names embrace it (like Line Drives & Lipstick, home of the famous Baseball Bracelet™). Memorabilia shops are ubiquitous. I could easily spend a day looking through them alone. Pedestrians wear hats, shirts, and jerseys paying tribute to their favorite teams. Cars with license plates or bumper stickers with MLB ties are common. Little League teams roam the sidewalks–thanks to the local facilities that host international tournaments.

Shops along Main Street in Cooperstown.

The Sandlot Kid in the foreground, with Doubleday field in the background.

Of course everyone is drawn to the brick building in the middle of town.

The crown jewel of Cooperstown, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Since most of us like to be entertained and fed, here are my thoughts on the food I encountered in Cooperstown. I ate at three establishments. The first was the Brewery Ommegang cafe, which is located outside of the downtown area. The food at Ommegang was very good, as was the beer. On Monday morning I ate breakfast at the Cooperstown Diner. It is the smallest diner I have ever entered. My breakfast was good–the bacon and eggs were nothing special, but the pancakes were excellent. The biggest drawback to the meal was that the silverware was terrible. I think a bad fork can put a damper on a good meal.

The Cooperstown Diner. Small building, big food.

On Monday I stopped by the New York Pizzeria,which was located between my motel and Main Street. I asked the person at the counter if they had a specialty, he smiled and said: Everything is good. But if you truly want to judge a pizza, get a cheese pizza and savor the sauce. You can trust me, it’s the cheapest pizza on the menu. I’m not here to inflate your bill; I’m here to sell you a good pizza. While his honesty impressed me (there were expensive specialty pizzas he could have recommended), I elected to give the sauce some companionship and ordered a pizza with portabella mushrooms and mixed sweet and bell peppers, along with a side of onion rings. The pizza was very, very good. I’d place it in my lifetime pizza top ten  [1]. The onion rings fall around the middle of my lifetime onion ring scale, which is acceptable. As a perk, the New York Pizzeria offers unlimited refills on fountain drinks and a strong free wi-fi connection. The combination of staff, food, and amenities made me a fan of this establishment.

The New York Pizzeria in Cooperstown.

On Monday evening I walked to Lakefront Park, which sits along Otsego Lake. I’m glad I did. The view–which James Fenimore Cooper found inspiring–is nothing short of picturesque. Conifer-covered mountains line the sides of the lake. Birds frolic in the skies. Boaters recreate. It is a peaceful place. I sat by the gardens near the lake reading, thinking, and praying until dusk arrived. If you like contemplating, reading, or seeing a beautiful place you should spend a summer evening at Lakefront Park.

Lakefront Park in Cooperstown.

My view on Monday evening.

“Music has sounds for it–I know no words” – Leo in Armgart (George Eliot)

My short time in Cooperstown left me with this list of recommendations if you are planning a visit:

  • Experience the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Roam the shops on Main Street
  • Tour Brewery Ommegang
  • Watch baseball at Doubleday Field
  • Eat a pizza at New York Pizzeria (I recommend portabella mushrooms and peppers)
  • Savor a summer evening at Lakefront Park

This list is not exhaustive–there are many things I did not experience while in Cooperstown. If you have additional recommendations feel free to leave them as comments below.

[1] Disclaimer: When I travel I skip meals frequently, meaning I’m quite hungry when I actually eat. Because of this my ability to evaluate the quality of food may be impaired.



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2 responses to “Thoughts on Cooperstown, NY

  1. Michael Crowe

    I have visited Cooperstown many, many times over the years and I enjoyed reading your blog. My wife’s family has a reunion every year in Colliersville, just outside of Oneonta which is my birthplace and about 20 miles from Cooperstown. Being a baseball lover, I have always gotten a kick out of visiting this sleepy little village, mobbed in the summertime by tourists and baseball players and occasionally all-time great players attending the Hall of Fame inductions each year. One year I walked down Main Street with one of my daughters on HOF weekend just as an autograph session was beginning. People were lined up around the block, but since I didn’t want an autograph we just wandered in front of the old timers that were sitting there waiting for the session to begin and talked to several of them. I talked with Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and others. Pretty neat.

    Other Cooperstown attractions are the famous and opulent Otesaga Hotel where the family gathers for a delicious brunch, still only $15, the day before the reunion. I have played golf at the scenic Otesaga course, which costs a bit more than $15. The 18th hole there emulates the 18th at Pebble Beach.

    I have purchased several baseball bats at the Cooperstown Bat Company over the years, enjoyed half moon cookies at Schneider’s Bakery, visited the Pioneer Gallery where my father in law used to hang and sell watercolors, taken several tours of the HOF, visited all of the memorabilia shops, swung at pitches at the Doubleday Field batting range, attended HOF games, and visited the camps of my wife’s aunts, uncles and cousins along Otsego Lake, aka Glimmerglass and Cooperstown Lake.

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