If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing the quaint village of Cooperstown in scenic upstate New York, please add it to your “must do” list. Cooperstown satiates visitors for its lovely location on Otsego Lake, its’ line of dazzling impeccable Victorian homes, and its diverse collection of shops and restaurants, to name a few characteristics.
For baseball fans, add to the mix the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum on Main Street and surely Cooperstown bats a home run in perfect getaways.
(Now I sound like a travel brochure.)
Ken, the kids, and I have visited Cooperstown twice – in support of Ken’s pals Eddie and Cal, former Orioles teammates inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003 (Eddie Murray) and 2007 (Cal Ripken Jr).
For a switch, we had opted to stay in a Bed & Breakfast versus a hotel. Online I had found a charming, pretty, and well-kept house on Chestnut Street called the Rose and Thistle, less than a mile from the Main Street bustle.
Perfect choice. Two Yankees fans own it. Steve and Patti D’Esposito from New Jersey had moved upstate in 2002 to try their hands at innkeeping, after working Manhattan’s rat race their entire careers.
Let me assure you … this couple is in the perfect occupation.
We stayed for several nights at their inn and were hit with hospitality, warmth, and graciousness unequaled at any hotel. Plus we met who we’ve since labeled “The Cooperstown Gang” … a group of the most die-hard baseball fans I’ve ever encountered in the 18 years as Mrs. Singy: Larry, Joan & Henry of N.J. … Pat & Jim of N.Y. … Scott of CT … and Agatha, Steve & Steve Jr. of N.J., most Yankees’ fans, with some Braves, Dodgers, and Mets in the mix – who meet year after year at the Rose and Thistle to celebrate baseball and the Hall of Fame’s inductees.
This bunch of extremely friendly folks welcomed the newest family, the Singletons, to their annual gathering with open arms (it didn’t hurt one of us happened to be a baseball announcer for the NY Yankees).
“They are baseball junkies who are pranksters, and loveable like family,” said Patti of her Hall of Fame Weekend crew.
When Patti and Steve had announced to them that Ken Singleton would be staying at the inn, “Jim started to stutter and shake,” said Patti, “and almost spilled his coffee. Henry was close to tears upon meeting Ken and said it was the best experience in his life. Larry was impressed with the amount of time Ken spent with our guests – he said he didn’t want to wash his shoulder after Ken hugged him!”
Our welcome by this lovely group was astonishing. A splendid weekend! Steve slaps a scrumptious abundant breakfast on the large dining room table like your stomach wouldn’t believe … and the D’Espositos treat their guests as family, even hosting a “porch barbeque” after the induction ceremony is over (which the group attends of course).
As we departed the inn after our first visit, they promised to save us the top floor room for Cal Ripen Jr’s induction in 2007 – and do you know – they did? We revisited Cooperstown again, stayed at their wonderful B&B, and reacquainted with The Cooperstown Gang during an equally wonderful weekend, if not better.
“Everyone was humbled and honored to be in the Singleton family’s company,” said Patti.
Yet it was our family actually who felt humbled to be so welcomed, and able to stay connected via e-mail to such a wonderful baseball bunch – the Cooperstown gang.
(And if I was writing a travel column, the Rose and Thistle would be awarded five stars! Visit their beautiful inn, The Rose and Thistle. Tell them the Singletons sent you.)
The wonderful hubby-wife team Anthony and Adriana Taffuri who own A&A Car Service, which the YES Network uses in New York City, told me they sometimes drive Richard Gere.
Isn’t he a grand actor, that Richard Gere? Officer and a Gentleman … Pretty Woman … Nights in Rodanthe … Unfaithful … The Hoax (excellent true story book by the way – an unbelievable plot). Just a few of my favorite Richard Gere movies, but he thrives in all of them if you ask me.
In Cooperstown 2007, when Ken and I and the kids drove up for Cal Ripken Jr’s Hall of Fame induction, I tried not to get too tickled knowing Mr. Gere was “in the building” during a VIP reception we attended in the museum. Yet my Hollywood antenna rose up as I poked it around the room, bypassing the many famous ballplayers’ faces (most of whom I’ve met numerous times over the years so my enthusiasm meter has fallen) in hopes of zeroing in on one good actor.
Now where oh where is that Richard Gere? I couldn’t find him anywhere. Maybe it was a rumor. Rats.
Then Ken and I strolled into the museum’s art gallery. We stopped in front of a colorful Willie Mays oil painting – the “Say Hey Kid” is Ken’s all-time favorite player – to snap a smile of Ken next to it. No one else was in the room. A few minutes later, in walked Mr. Gere and his young son. He spotted Ken and extended a handshake, introduced himself, and relayed how he has enjoyed Ken’s work on the YES Network.
Wasn’t that friendly? Here’s a famous Hollywood movie star who probably constantly hears the same compliment himself, turning the table to compliment someone else and to indicate he’s a fan. I was so proud of hubby.
If my tongue wasn’t so twisted, I may have said something clever. I don’t actually remember what I uttered. The three of us posed together for a few photos; he introduced his son, a friend, and the friend’s son, and we merrily moved along. We never spotted Mr. Gere again over the weekend, although he had to have been at the induction ceremony I’m sure.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston were in the front row, although I didn’t spot them either, happened to see only their photo in the newspaper.
I really need to get my antenna fixed.