What is the Cooperstown Baseball Experience, Week Long Tournaments, at Cooperstown Dreams Park for u12 Players?

Cooperstown Opening Ceremony
Cooperstown Opening Ceremony | Source

Cooperstown Baseball Field of Dreams

One of the best tournaments for u12 youth baseball players is Cooperstown Dreams Park in Cooperstown, New York. It provides the opportunity for every baseball player, 12 and under, to spend a week, living their dream, playing baseball in a tournament against teams from throughout the United States.

These are week long competitions, with approximately 100 teams competing each week. Each year the tournaments begin in June and continue through August. All sanctioned baseball teams with players 12 years old and younger are invited to attend. They compete for a weekly national title. Coaches have the opportunity to choose a week that works best for their team's baseball schedule. There are 11 weeks of regular tournaments. Week 12 is the N.A.T.C. tournament, a players’ showcase tournament, and week 13 is the culmination of the summer, with the Cooperstown Classic.

Map of Coooperstown
Map of Coooperstown | Source

Where is Cooperstown, NY? Where are the Closest Airports to Cooperstown? Advantages to Driving to Cooperstown?

Cooperstown is in upstate New York, between Albany and Syracuse. It is approximately 80 miles from both Albany International Airport in Albany, NY and from Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, NY. Transportation will need to be provided at the airport, as it is about a 2 hour drive to Cooperstown. This time frame is an approximation, but be aware that the speed limits are strictly enforced through this area.

Most families rent a car or van at the airport as their player(s) will be staying at Dreams Park and they will be staying off site. Many of the rental properties are a distance away and games are played at varying times during the day. Some families share cars/vans while others prefer to have their own.

Driving distances obviously vary for the number of families that travel to Cooperstown Dreams Park. The advantage of driving is bringing supplies and baseball equipment that your player(s) and family may like to have for the week long visit. Families that drive can also help those families and coaches that fly. (Driving can support bringing additional baseball bags, a fan for the bunkhouse (they are not air conditioned), chairs, practice balls, a cooler for the team, non-perishable food and cases of water).

(Note: For GPS usage the Cooperstown Dreams Park address is 4550 State Highway 28, Milford, New York 13807).

Cooperstown's Baseball Uniform

Cooperstown Dreams Park provides each player with a home and away jersey (red for home and navy blue for away), hat, red and navy socks, long and short sleeved mock t-shirts and a wind breaker jacket. (Note: the home/away jerseys have numbers provided by Cooperstown Dreams Park, so let your player(s) know that they will probably not have their home team number). Each player must provide their own plain white baseball pants with no stripes and a red and/or navy blue belt. (Note: the players must wear baseball pants at knee length).

Dreams Park also provides each coach with a hat, polo shirt and windbreaker jacket. (Note: Uniform laundry service is provided for the teams with team sign up).


National Baseball Hall of Fame, American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Tournament Ring, Induction into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame

Cooperstown Dreams Park provides each player a free ticket to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and a DVD of their team's web casted game (weather permitting). Each player and coach also receive an American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame tournament ring and each are inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.


What Should Baseball Players Bring to Cooperstown?

On the Plane: In case of misplaced luggage, it is advised that players carry on the plane a fielder’s mitt (catcher’s mitt), cleats (no metal allowed), sliding pants, cup, red or blue belt, batting gloves (if they use them) and plain white baseball pants. Bats and helmets can always be borrowed from teammates, but players prefer their own personal baseball gear.

For the bunkhouse: Provide a fitted twin sheet, sleeping bag or blanket (most players bring sleeping bags) and a pillow. There is a footlocker for each player and a lock can be attached. The lock needs to be small and narrow so it fits. Ideally, bring a combination lock so there are no worries about carrying the key. (Note: Make sure your player knows the combination and also writes it down for the coach, just in case it's needed).

Personal items: Bring two or three pairs of plain white baseball pants, extra pair of baseball socks in navy blue and red (optional, but Cooperstown provides only one pair of each and note: must be plain, no logos), cup, sliding shorts, sunglasses (if they wear them), athletic shoes, sleeping clothes, sweat shirt or hoodie and a jacket (ideally something that is also waterproof), t-shirts, shorts, swimsuit (it’s an open shower), two towels (so one is always dry), shoes for the shower, a mesh bag with a drawstring to carry toiletries (liquid soap is best, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant). The mesh bags help keep items dry. It's also helpful if your player has two pairs of baseball cleats. Rain is not unusual in this area. There is a lot of walking involved as well.. Make sure the shoes are "broken in" and comfortable. (Note: As of October, 2012, there is now a Dick's Sporting Goods store in Oneonta, about 40 minutes from Cooperstown).

For entertainment, players can bring books, cards, and electronics such as DVD players and hand held electronic games, phones, etc. Remember to pack chargers for all electronics. It's also important to label everything with your player's name.


Cooperstown Dreams Park Fields

Cooperstown Dream Park is equipped with 22 professionally groomed and lighted fields that are enclosed by 8 foot high stadium fences. There are enclosed viewing areas, along with an open seating area. Plastic chairs are provided, but you can bring in your own as well. Ten of the fields have a web cam and they have daily games webcasted on these fields. Each team has the opportunity to play on one of the webcasted fields during their tournament (weather permitting).

Families and friends can go to the Cooperstown Dreams Park website and sign up on their webcast to watch games either live or pre-recorded. This gives family and friends, that are not in Cooperstown, an opportunity to watch the games. Also it gives players and families an opportunity to watch games at a later date.

Little Major's Stadium is the main stadium at the park. This stadium is used exclusively for the opening ceremony, finals in the skills competitions, the closing ceremony and the championship game.

Cooperstown Dreams Park Retail Center

This area provides clothing and souvenir shopping, a bat shop and photography center. They have an abundance of unique Dreams Park souvenirs and the weekly tournament roster t-shirts. (Special note: Buy the T-shirt when it first comes out early in the week, as once they are gone, they have no more). The bat shop provides a variety of souvenir engraved bats.

The Photo center gives families an opportunity to view and purchase individual and team pictures. There are formal pictures of the team along with candid pictures taken of individual players during the games throughout the tournament.

Concession Stands and Eating Areas

There are concession stands and outdoor eating areas which open at 8:00 a.m and remain open until the conclusion of the last game(s). The menus include more than just hamburgers and hot dogs. They have additional sandwiches and pizza and the prices are fairly reasonable. (Note: No coolers are allowed (only team coolers with water and ice) and outside food and beverages are also not permitted).

The Week Begins, Check in – Friday night and Saturday

Families and teams begin arriving Friday evening. Early check in is available on Friday night after 6:00 p.m, but the official check in is on Saturday morning before 11:00 a.m. Saturday is when most players and coaches find their bunkhouses and this is when uniforms are distributed. (Very helpful if someone is designated to put names on all individual items with a permanent marker). Each team has their own sleeping quarters. (Each building houses 2 teams, separated by a wall).

Parents and families are only allowed in the bunkhouse area to check in their players and must leave by 11:00. The time after check in is with players and coaches only. This is when many players do their pin trading, attend a team orientation and get ready for the opening ceremony.

Families stay nearby, either renting one of the many homes or apartments in the area, or staying in a nearby hotel or bed and breakfast. There are abundant choices for families to stay, which are designed to meet families’ budgets, needs and preferences. Some families also choose to rent larger homes and stay together.

Baseball Team Pin Trading at Cooperstown

Pin trading is great fun for players and families alike. There are approximately 100 teams in Cooperstown each week so each player should plan to bring as many pins from their team as they think they would like to trade. Siblings and parents enjoy trading pins too, so plan accordingly.

Most players attach the pins they collect to a pin trading towel and carry the pins they want to trade in a separate zip lock bag.

Many families print out the list of teams that will be in Cooperstown the week they are there, so that they can keep track of which pins they have collected and which pins they still want to collect. .

Source

Opening Ceremony, Saturday late afternoon

Later in the day on Saturday, teams assemble for the opening ceremony and the procession of athletes. There are parachute jumpers that drop from the sky and land in Little Majors Stadium. Alphabetically, each team enters the stadium to the cheers of family and friends. It's an amazing procession with as many as 100+ teams. The teams are dressed in their Cooperstown uniforms of either blue or red. Each team carries a baseball banner that represents their home team. The national anthem is sung and there are speeches about the tournament and the history of Cooperstown Dreams Park.

The skills competitions begin immediately after the opening ceremony, and include King of Swat, Road Runner, Golden Arm, and Around the Horn (Note: all skills competitions are at the same time). Every team is represented in these competitions and the events are held on various fields. They participate in alphabetical order of their team name. The top qualifiers compete after the initial skills competition. These are held in Little Major's Stadium and a trophy is given to the winner of each of the competitions.

Pool Play, Free Time and Seeding – Sunday through Tuesday

On Sunday, the pool play games begin. Each team is guaranteed 6 games (weather permitting), and they play at different times (8:30, 11:00, 1:45, 4:30 and 7:00), and on different fields, each day through Tuesday. They earn a seed spot Tuesday evening which determines which team they will play and the time they will play on Wednesday.

Players are free to be signed out by their families in their off time to explore the town of Cooperstown, with its multitude of baseball shops, restaurants, Doubleday Field and the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are many other free and inexpensive activities in and near Cooperstown for families to enjoy. There is Lake Ostego, breweries, the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad, trolley rides, walking tours of Cooperstown, arcades, miniature golf along with many others.


Single Elimination Games – Wednesday

All teams are in the playoff bracket and participate in the playoff games. These are single elimination games that begin on Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. Games follow at 12:00, 3:00, 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. The lower seeded teams play early and the winners continue to advance to the next game. The higher the seed, the later their team's first game is played. The top 16 teams play on Thursday.

Games to the Championship - Thursday

Thursday is the culmination of the best of the teams beginning with the Sweet Sixteen, and these teams play at 8:30 a.m. The winners move to the Elite Eight and play at 12:30 p.m. The Final Four play at 3:00 p.m. The top two teams play in the championship game at 9:15 p.m.

Fireworks Display before Championship Game
Fireworks Display before Championship Game | Source

Closing Ceremony, Fireworks and the Championship Game - Thursday

Prior to the championship game, each team participates in the closing ceremony where every player, coach and umpire is introduced and each receives a tournament ring and is inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame. The teams enter as they did in the opening ceremony, but the difference is they are now in reverse alphabetical order. The team that was last in the opening ceremony will now be first. This is a long ceremony with everyone being introduced and also the closing speeches.

Just before the championship game, the two final teams are introduced, the Star Spangled Banner is sung, and then there is a fireworks display. The culmination of the tournament is with the final two teams playing the championship game, which begins around 9:15.

Cooperstown Dreams

This is every 12 year old baseball player's dream park. It is also so much fun for parents and families as well.

Dreams Park, Cooperstown, the experience of it all, will provide players and families with many treasured memories that will last a lifetime.

Cooperstown Dreams Park

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