Cooperstown All Star Village: Tips for Parents
We just returned from the BEST week at Cooperstown All Star Village. My older son’s 12u team competed in Week 8, 2021, and to say that this week was memorable would be an understatement. Since I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to the tournament, I wanted to share some tips we learned from our week.
In yesterday’s post, I gave tips for packing for your players. Here’s the link to that post if you missed it.
Today I’ll give some tips for parents! Here are my travel tips for Baseball Parents heading to Cooperstown All Star Village. Many of these tips are relevant to Cooperstown Dreams Park as well!
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What to Pack – Parents and Siblings
In general, you want to pack for comfort – meaning that you want to be ready for heat, cold, sun and rain. You also want to be comfortable because you’ll be doing a lot of walking – – from the parking lots to the fields and back.
Here are my recommendations for clothing items you definitely need.
- Sweatshirt(s) – chilly damp mornings and chilly cold nights = break out the sweatshirts
- Every piece of team gear you own. Seriously. It helps you locate other team parents when you’re up the hill, coming down the hill, or looking for your fields. It looks great in team pictures, conveys team spirit, and might even help you win the spirit competition on opening night.
- Dress for comfort. Oneonta, Cooperstown and the surrounding areas are extremely relaxed and everyone dresses verrry casually. These are my people. Multiple pairs of leggings, team t-shirts, comfortable flip flops and sneakers took me through the entire week from opening ceremonies to our Hall of Fame visit, to our team dinners. I would have felt overdressed if I hadn’t been wearing a baseball themed t-shirt in every restaurant we went to.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes. I gave up on flip flops after the first day – too much walking up and down steep hills, plus gravel paths in between fields made flip flops impractical and almost dangerous. I ended up wearing sneakers the rest of the time, and just packing flip flops in my backpack if the day called for sun.
- A baseball hat (obviously).
- One pair of pants or jeans – – nights can be very chilly and damp. If you get a midnight/1am game, you will want sweatpants, pants or jeans.
What to pack – Non Clothing Items
- Stadium Seats. Now is the time to break out the foam stadium seats that you may have retired after you bought comfy camp chairs. In general, you want light and portable stadium seats. The foam pad versions are more than enough, and are light enough to carry up and down the hills. If you don’t mind carrying a slightly more bulky and heavy stadium seat, or plan to use the shuttle service, spring for the stadium seats with back support.
- An umbrella – – it rained a lot. Not sure if it was just our bad luck or if it’s just due to that region, but be prepared for rain to catch you unexpectedly at some point.
- A backpack – – easier for walking those hills.
- Picnic blanket – the opening ceremonies are long, and unless you’re lucky enough to get one of the bleacher seats, you will be sitting on the hill for a lonnnnnnnngggggg time. Hours. It rains frequently and the hill can be wet, so a waterproof picnic blanket is a good idea.
- Cash. The concession stands near the fields only take cash. Most of the restaurants in town only take cash. Cooperstown All Star Village has a few ATMs if you need to get more cash onsite.
How to Watch Games
- For family members or friends that want to watch the games remotely, they can watch the games by going to www.cooperstownallstarvillage.com , looking for the Watch Live section, and clicking on the field that the game is being held on. The link directly to Watch Live is here. The picture was surprisingly clear, the only complaint we heard from relatives was that the scoreboard was never visible so it’s difficult to tell what is going on.
- Seating: At All Star Village, every field has a ‘parent dugout’ which is separated, but directly next to, the player dug out. Each dugout has two rows of metal bleachers plus additional room for strollers, wheelchairs, even a picnic blanket for young kids. There is plenty of room for your team’s families, as well as relatives and friends that want to come watch. Those metal stands are unforgiving – – I cannot recommend strongly enough that you bring seat cushions – – the simple foam cushions are enough to save your butt and back from agony after even one game. We didn’t bring them, having grown used to using our cushy camp chairs for years. We regretted that decision after one game. There is no need to bring camp chairs – – first of all, there isn’t enough room in the dugouts for everyone to bring a chair. Secondly, you will not want to carry those chairs up or down the hills. Trust me on this.
- Some of the fields have outside bleachers, in addition to the parent dug out.
- If you have young children, keep them in the dugout during games to prevent getting hit by foul balls and home run balls. There are balls dropping everywhere, especially since the fields are close together.
- Older siblings can bring their own glove and help retrieve foul balls and home run balls. Home run balls always go to the player that hit the ball, but foul balls can be turned into the concession stand. 5 foul balls will earn your child a ticket, and 5 tickets will earn them a special Cooperstown All Star Village pin.
- Our team hit quite a few out of the park home runs that got lost in the woods, so we ended up using some of the foul balls our younger kids retrieved to stand in for the ‘home run’ balls. Tip: If your son or daughter hits a home run ball and you want to get it engraved on site, it is $25 if All Star Village provides the ball, but only $15 if you provide the ball.
- Be prepared for weather. We brought sweatshirts, sunglasses, sunscreen, and umbrellas, and we used everything. Sometimes we used everything during the same game. The weather changes quickly and go from comfortable to uncomfortable in a matter of minutes.
- If your team gets blessed enough to have a late game (11:30, 1 am, or later – always due to weather), don’t be upset and try to make it or at least watch it online. Our late-late game ended up being the best game of our team’s week at Cooperstown, and is something we’ll be talking about for years to come. There’s just something about everyone being deliriously tired that made the game extra fun. Our kids rallied and had an awesome game, and my son even made his first home run.
Where to Eat – Oneonta and West Oneonta
We found the following restaurants based on recommendations from other parents, and would absolutely go back to any one of them again. A couple observations – – this part of New York is very relaxed. Almost too relaxed. The wait at some of these restaurants, even if they didn’t appear to be busy, was almost excruciatingly long. Being from central New Jersey, we’re used to quick table service, quick food delivery, quick check delivery so they can get you out the door and seat the next party. That philosophy doesn’t extend to this area of New York. The waiters want to chat, take their time, and are in no rush to get you out the door. If you are in a hurry, let them know immediately! There is still no guarantee you will get your order quickly, but I can guarantee your meal will be amazing at any of the below restaurants.
- Undercover Eggplant – Close to All Star Village. Oneonta. Large dining area and a rotating list of creative sandwiches, many featuring eggplant (obviously). Multiple options for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Pizzas and sandwiches primarily make up the menu, but everything is consistently good. Some of the parents on our team went back daily, that is how good it is.
- The Yellow Deli – Oneonta. We went here twice. The menu is small, but super fresh. They make their own bread, and they offer both breakfast and lunch options 24 hours a day, 5 days a week (Sunday noon to Friday 3pm). My son loved the waffles. The tomato basil soup and Beef Lentil soups were amazing. The spinach egg sandwich (the Spinwich) was the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. Everything we got here was amazing. This restaurant is open 24 hours a day on the days it is open, which is unusual and worth noting in case you get one of those late games and need dinner late.
- Pizza 23 West – Close to All Star Village. West Oneonta. My husband is from New York. I’m from Philadelphia. We live in New Jersey. We’ve been to Italy. We love pizza. We consider ourselves pizza connoisseurs. We spend ridiculous amounts of time critiquing pizza. The pizza from 23 West was really, really, really good. As good as anything we’ve had outside NYC. This restaurant also does team parties, and I wish we had had our team party there. Recommended.
- Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q – Oneonta. Excellent pulled pork, brisket, and barbecued chicken. There is currently no indoor dining (take out only), but they have covered outdoor seating for team parties.
- The Overlook at Cooperstown All Star Village was a welcome surprise. Shortly after checking my son’s team in, a bunch of us headed over to the Overlook, which (not surprisingly) overlooks the All Star Village fields. The view is amazing, the food was good, and you can watch the games without heading down ‘the hill.’
Where to Stay
Book your accommodations as early as possible. When our team finally got our confirmed week at All Star Village, we scrambled to find accommodations that were available for that week. Unfortunately by the time we booked we were limited in what was available.
We learned later that teams and families with experience at All Star Village will sometimes book multiple rental places, one for each of the weeks they requested, then will cancel once they finally get their confirmed week.
Cooperstown Accommodations was the management company that handled our rental. We weren’t happy with the option that we had booked back in January (again, there was nothing available!), and so we continued to look to see if anything became available closer to our stay. At the last minute, literally three days before we arrived, a nicer rental became available that was in a better location. Cooperstown Accommodations allowed us to change to the better rental, last minute, with no penalty. We couldn’t be happier with their service and would recommend them in the future for rentals.
Tip: If you can coordinate renting with other team families, you may want to see if at least one family is able to book a house on a lake. Two of our team’s families booked lakeside houses next to each other, and towards the end of the week it became ‘the’ hangout for families looking to get away from the bustle and chaos of All Star Village. Our team and the siblings fished, canoed, kayaked, caught frogs, played wiffle ball, and overall just enjoyed being disconnected from video games and TV. For the parents, it was a chance to help our kids bait hooks, drink beers in Adirondack chairs by the lake (later by the campfire) and connect with other team families over something other than what originally brought us together: baseball. The memories made on the shores of that lake, with those very rustic cabins, are memories our team will have forever.
Overall, we had an amazing week watching the best 12u baseball at Cooperstown All Star Village.
Tomorrow I’ll cover visiting Cooperstown, NY – – the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame!