President Obama’s Excellent Adventure in Cooperstown!
The sharp shooters on the roof of the National Baseball Hall of Fame should have tipped you off that this was no ordinary day in "America's Most Perfect Village."
The president was coming to town.
President Barack Obama made the first ever visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a sitting president. He came to talk tourism. And a little baseball, of course.
The streets and homes of Cooperstown sparkled under a bright afternoon sun. The president's itinerary took him from the Oval Office in the morning to Griffiss Air Base in Rome aboard Air Force One and then to Cooperstown aboard Marine One, his helicopter.
Large crowds filled the one-stop-light Main Street in this village of 1,800 permanent residents. There were many welcome signs and banners and posters offering warm welcomes to our president.
Of course, because we are a democracy, voices of opposition to a number of issues were also everywhere. The anti-fracking crowd was well represented by a large and vocal group. Those who oppose the NY Safe Act were also out in great numbers (Gov. Cuomo was scheduled to appear, but ultimately was a no-show). I must admit, the anti-Common Core Corps were hard to find. That surprised me. The crowd of onlookers
was over 1,000 out in front of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
A long line formed to go through security about 1 p.m. This line was made up of Cooperstown officials, business owners and others on the invitation list of only 126 people. The same number was there in the press line.
Once inside, the press was shunted off to one side, where we only had an obstructed view of the ceremony. Still, the surroundings and the setting were magnificent. We were all seated in the actual Hall of Plaques in the Baseball Hall of Fame (I was situated right under the plaque for 1951
inductee Frankie "The Fordham Flash" Frisch).
The president arrived to a roaring standing ovation. He told us that he had enjoyed a short tour of the hall and hoped to come back as a private citizen some day so he could spend more time admiring the artifacts there representing his beloved Chicago White Sox.
His brief talk focused on the power of tourism and the need to grow it in these difficult
times. He was really preaching to the choir here, because the Hall of Fame is experiencing one of its best years in recent history, this being their 75th anniversary year. The president was met with enthusiastic applause throughout his talk, especially when he referenced the village by name.
And then he was gone. Woosh... Twenty minutes tops. On board the helicopter and back to Griffiss Air Base in Rome and then on to the Midwest.
These events are clearly for the national media and the settings, or backdrops, are very important. For that reason many believe that huge numbers will view the president at the Hall of Fame today and put it on their schedule for a family visit in the near future.
Hopefully all of that will translate into dollars spent in our own back yard. For his important "tourism speech" the president could have picked any number of trendy spots: Cape Cod, the Alamo, the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Grand Canyon or more. But he picked us! And that it is a good thing. A very good thing.
One of the great things about these events is that you never know who will be there. I spotted several seasoned reporters from the White House press corps who travel with the president wherever he goes. And then I spotted a familiar face in the crowd. Bob Cairns, from Delaware County. I hadn't seen Bob in a while. Many of you will remember Bob as
he was my news director back in the early 1990s at WDOS for a couple of years. Bob is now the editor of the Walton Reporter. We reminisced for a while after the event in the "press hospitality room." It was good to see my old partner again.
Thanks for stopping by, Mr. President. We hope you enjoyed the beautiful little slice of Americana that we call home. We hope you come back real soon. And bring your wife and kids, OK?
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