Selig Asked to Meet with SaveTheFameGame.com
the Hall of Fame Game
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Selig Is Asked to Meet with SaveTheFameGame.com in Cooperstown Next Month
WASHINGTON, DC (June 20, 2008) -- The SaveTheFameGame.com campaign today sent a two-page letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to request a meeting while the commissioner is in Cooperstown next month for the Hall of Fame's Induction ceremony. The Hall of Fame's Induction Weekend is July 25-28.
In the letter, which was both mailed and faxed to the commissioner's Milwaukee office, SaveTheFameGame.com creator and Cooperstown native Kristian Connolly asks Mr. Selig for "the opportunity to discuss with you the passion that exists for keeping a great American and baseball tradition alive, share some of the sentiment that is out there with regard to the choice that the league and the players union made in deciding to end it, and have an open discussion about options for retaining Major League Baseball's participation in the Hall of Fame Game, as it has been since 1940."
Full text of the letter, as well as a poem by baseball fan Dennis Segrue which mimics Ernest Thayer's famous baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" -- which was also sent to Commissioner Selig -- is copied below.
Earlier this week, SaveTheFameGame.com was in Cooperstown for 2008 Hall of Fame Game festivities, including the Cooperstown Game Day Parade, and its efforts have resulted in an average of nearly 100 emailed letters per day going to Commissioner Selig, MLB president Bob Dupuy, Players Association head Don Fehr and Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson over the past week, all asking them to reverse the decision to end the annual Hall of Fame Game after 2008.
Text of SaveTheFameGame.com's letter to Commissioner Selig:
June 20, 2008
Mr. Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
Major League Baseball
777 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Dear Commissioner Selig:
As a representative of SaveTheFameGame.com, the growing national grassroots movement dedicated to keeping the Hall of Fame Game tradition alive, I am requesting a meeting with you in Cooperstown during the upcoming Induction Weekend of July 25-28 to discuss the Hall of Fame Game and its future.
If you had been in attendance at Hall of Fame Game events this past Monday in Cooperstown, you would have seen firsthand that support for continuing the Hall of Fame Game is very strong. And as the number of emailed letters that have been sent by passionate fans to you, to Mr. Dupuy, to Mr. Fehr and to Mr. Idelson have helped to demonstrate, there is tremendous desire for retaining a tradition that has engaged baseball fans in ways unmatched by anything else that Major League Baseball has done for nearly 70 years.
At this requested meeting, I would like the opportunity to discuss with you the passion that exists for keeping a great American and baseball tradition alive, share some of the sentiment that is out there with regard to the choice that the league and the players union made in deciding to end it, and have an open discussion about options for retaining Major League Baseball's participation in the Hall of Fame Game, as it has been since 1940.
For many people, myself included, the decision to end the Hall of Fame Game is a prime example of the greed and selfishness that has permeated the national pastime, and we don't like how baseball's leadership is treating the sport solely as an industry, being concerned only with how to chase the extra dollar without regard to serving the sport's best interests as a national game and as an integral part of our American identity and history.
We don't accept the idea that the Hall of Fame Game is a scheduling problem. Rather, we see the decision to discontinue the tradition as a problem with the attitude of owners and players toward baseball's history, baseball's fans, and baseball's storied place in American culture.
I was recently told by Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski that the Players Association negotiated the change to the Hall of Fame Game in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. This confirmed my feeling that the owners and players shared responsibility in this decision.
However, in the copy of the CBA that I have, I do not see where it is stated that the Hall of Fame Game must end. What the CBA does outline are the parameters for teams' participation in the game, and so my only conclusion is that your office and the MLBPA intentionally collectively bargained a set of rules that would give you an opportunity to say that your hands are tied and that you just can't make the HOF Game work any longer.
Certainly, I disagree with the idea that the Hall of Fame Game can't be worked into the schedule, as do a great many baseball fans. I firmly believe that the Hall of Fame Game is not a make-or-break issue between players and owners as far as reaching an overall agreement during collective bargaining, and it could therefore easily be reinstated as an annual baseball tradition.
Furthermore, as players like Greg Maddux, Jim Edmonds, Tony Clark and Jake Peavy recently expressed on their visit to Cooperstown, ending the Hall of Fame Game tradition and depriving Major League players of the opportunity to visit Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame during their playing careers is a tremendous loss for the sport, its fans, and for the players who will miss out on the same experience that over 3,500 players have had since 1940.
I read an article earlier this week in which you confirmed that you consider yourself a purist, and proudly stated that you are "probably the greatest agent of change in baseball history." I've also read many articles in the past where you've stated your reverence for the sport's history and your desire to retain many of the "pure" things about the national pastime. The Hall of Fame Game is truly one of those things, yet you and baseball's other leaders are trying to kill it.
Change in the name of progress is a good thing, as some of your decisions as commissioner have demonstrated. But change that is detrimental to the greater good of the sport and to the sport's fans is injurious, and the decision to end a nearly 70-year-old tradition that has undeniably served to only do good for the sport and its fans certainly cannot be characterized as progress, and the excuse that the annual celebration is just too difficult to keep alive because of the strain it puts on scheduling is just not acceptable in any way.
The Hall of Fame Game has celebrated the national pastime on the sport's historic home field in the sport's beloved hometown for nearly your entire lifetime. It has excited kids and adults alike about the game, and has connected Cooperstown to baseball's present, and reconnected baseball to its own revered history for almost seven decades.
Baseball, as the national game and as an industry, cannot survive without its fans, and in a sporting landscape when fans are feeling increasingly marginalized, the Hall of Fame Game has remained a touchstone for fans about what has always been pure and true about the national pastime, and we should continue to have that reminder of the game's great history and place in our society.
Lastly, I have enclosed along with this letter a poem sent to me by baseball fan Dennis Segrue, who re-wrote Ernest Thayer's famous baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" to fit the theme of the Hall of Fame Game, Cooperstown, and the national pastime's great loss due to the decision to end the Hall of Fame Game tradition. I hope you'll read "Cooperstown at the Bat", and allow it to help shape your understanding of what the tradition means to baseball fans, as well as how your legacy will be shaped in our minds if you don't make amends by keeping this revered celebration of big league baseball alive in Cooperstown.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to the opportunity to further discuss these issues with you in Cooperstown next month.
"Cooperstown at the Bat", by Dennis Segrue
The outlook wasn't brilliant for Cooperstown that day,
But still they came from far and near to see the Cubs and Padres play.
And as the clouds descended upon the home of the Hall of Fame,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast.
They thought "if only Bud and MLB could somehow see the light,
And save the Hall of Fame Game, for surely that's what's right."
But Bud and MLB had firmly drawn the line,
The Bigs had come to Cooperstown for the very last time.
So upon the stricken multitude, grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance again to see a big leaguer come to bat.
But the players seemed to take it in, the wonder of it all,
They got to see their idols and tour the hallowed Hall.
And when the game was cancelled, and men saw what had occurred,
To have no Hall of Fame Game, that's got to be absurd.
But somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
But Bud and MLB should hang their heads in shame,
For there is no joy in Cooperstown - We've lost our beloved game.