Thank You, Cooperstown.

An open letter to Cooperstown Dreams Park


Dear Cooperstown Dreams Park,

Thank you for canceling the 2020 camps due to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the community, nation, and world. I’m not happy about any of this; my son and my family have been looking forward to this for a very long time. Not being able to play baseball and experience the event is something we’re still wrapping our head around.

But, I am grateful that you made this difficult decision, for many reasons.

Thank you for making the decision early and allowing everyone planning to attend time to process the decision and change preparations.

Thank you for offering your facilities in service of relief for the ongoing pandemic. This is admirable that you are you are doing so even at great (presumably) financial sacrifice.

Thank you for deciding to cancel from all the families whose parents lost their jobs, whose small businesses are forced to close, whose side hustle to be able to pay for their Cooperstown trip dried up. By taking the decision out of their hands, they are appreciative for having that stress removed for what will be an uncertain time.

Thank you for the lesson in fairness. This is certainly not fair for the children to be randomly affected and miss out simply due to their birthday. For all the May 1, 2007 and April 30, 2008 children: this is perhaps horrible, but a great reminder that they were born into what is a prosperous time, in a country where opportunities like Cooperstown even exist. If this is the worst thing that happens to them during their childhood, then they will be well set up for life. If it’s not the worst thing to happen, then they are already building a reservoir of strength and fortitude that will serve them well in the future.

Thank you for giving me another opportunity to teach my children about gratitude and grace. We’re fortunate we are healthy and able to play baseball and can afford the resources to support the experience. When the ump says “Play Ball!” again, we’ll be ready. There are so many in our community who are not as fortunate through no fault of their own.

Thank you for expecting to return in 2021.

If that does not come to pass, thank you for almost 25 years of memories that illustrate what is possible with a field, a ball, and a Dream.

Cooperstown Q&A: Wait, we need to provide an umpire?

There are many logistical concerns a team has to account for as it plans to attend The Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience.  From application, to fundraising, to travel planning and more, the whole event will take months of preparation.  One key piece of the puzzle that must be accounted for is the umpire that a team is required to provide for the tournament. Here is some information that will helps properly address that concern:

Q: Does every team need to provide an umpire for their time at The Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience?

A: Yes.  With several hundred games taking place each week, there is a need for umpires to officiate that cannot be supported by local resources.

Q: Will the umpire I bring officiate my team’s games?

A: No.  With several dozen crews available, the schedule planners are able to easily avoid any conflicts of interest that would mar such a significant travel baseball event.

Q: How does the process work to bring an umpire to Cooperstown?

  1. Invite an umpire
  2. Umpire submits Umpire Participation Form
  3. Forms is reviewed and approved
  4. Team (typically) assists or makes travel arrangements for umpire
  5. Umpire arrives at Cooperstown and begins activities

Q: Does the umpire have to be certified by Cooperstown Dreams Park to officiate the games there?

A: Cooperstown Dreams Park does not have its own certification process for umpires.  They do expect that umpires who apply are a member of an umpire association.

Q: What kinds of questions are asked on participation form?

A: General biographical information is captured, along with info on umpiring experience, associations, and achievements.  The forms can be found on the Umpires pages of the Cooperstown Dreams Park site, or it can be downloaded here.

Q: Does the umpire stay in the bunk with the team that he arrives with?

A: No, umpires have separate accommodations at Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Q: I don’t know any local umpires very well; how should I go about securing an umpire for the week my team attends?

A: Message boards like are a platform where teams and umpires can make arrangements to fill the requirement.  Users can communicate and negotiate with officials offline to identify a good match.

Q: Is there any cost associated with providing an umpire for my team’s week at the Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience?

A: The team is responsible for covering travel costs for the umpire to and from Cooperstown.  These can vary based on distance, schedule, and other factors; an expected range could be $700 to $1100.  Teams should begin planning for this and make the arrangements as early as possible to ensure the costs are not exorbitant

Teams have many considerations to take into account when planning for their Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience.  Along with applications, travel, and baseball prep, they also need to plan to provide an umpire to officiate games during the week.  This page should answer some of the questions related to that obligation; additional info can be found on the Cooperstown Dreams Park website.


Cooperstown Q&A: What is the Schedule for the Week of the Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience?

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The Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience is a highlight of the childhoods of its participants.  It is a unique event in that for entire summers, it consistently draws in baseball teams and organizations from all over the country to not play baseball and compete for a championship, but also to meet individuals from and learn about different walks of life.

A major aspect to think about as teams and families plan for the events is the overall schedule.  Organizations are able to enjoy sights and activities around the village of Cooperstown, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, so it’s important to have an idea of the schedule and be able to plan accordingly.  Here are some answers that should help attendees as they get ready for the event:

Q: What is the overall schedule for the tournament?

A: Each session begins on a Friday evening (check-in) and runs through the following Friday morning (check-out).

Q: So the team will be playing games for 7 straight days?

A: No.  Game play begins on Sunday and runs through Thursday.

Q: OK, since the games are the most important thing, I need to be there starting Sunday, right?

A: No, there are key parts to the schedule that take place Friday and Saturday that teams and families need to plan for.

Q: What day should I plan to arrive with my team and players for the Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience?

A: Friday

Q: What takes place on Friday?

A: Coaches and Managers can begin the check-in process for teams starting on Friday.  Parents and players can attend this, but move-in does not start until Saturday.  All teams are encouraged to take advantage of early check-in on Friday evening beginning at 6:00 p.m

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Q: OK, when do the players move in to the clubhouses?

A: Players and teams move in to the clubhouses on Saturday morning.

Q: Does anything else happen that I need to plan for on Saturday?

A: Yes.  Saturday is full day of activity, for teams and families alike.  Here are some featured events:

  • Breakfast
  • Player move-in
  • Player Orientation
  • Parent Orientation
  • Dinner
  • Opening Ceremonies / Parade
  • Skills Competitions

Q: Wow!  Is every day this busy for everyone?

A: No.  Sunday through Wednesday have an almost-exclusive focus on baseball.  Teams will be playing their pool games Sunday-through Tuesday, and bracket play starts on Wednesday.

Q: OK so since Cooperstown Dreams Park doesn’t have anything specific planned outside of games, that might be a good time to schedule team gatherings, dinners, outings, etc.

A: Yes.  Once the pool play schedule is set, teams and families can fill up their itinerary however they see fit.

Q: When it comes to the players staying in the clubhouses, what are some key times they need to keep in mind as part of the schedule?

A: Meal times and Lights Out are important:

  • 6:30 a.m. -9:30 a.m. Breakfast
  • 11:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Dinner
  • 10:30 p.m. Lights Out

Q: What times do pool games start each day?

A: 8:30 a.m. / 11:00 a.m. / 1:45 p.m. / 4:30 p.m. / 7:00 p.m.


Q: Are there any days besides Saturday when I need to plan for multiple activities?

A: Thursday is another big day in this regard.  The following events take place that day:

  • Tournament Finals and Championships
  • Family BBQ Dinner
  • Procession of Athletes, Closing Ceremony and Hall of Fame Ring Presentation
  • Fireworks and Championship Game

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Q: What time is check out on the second Friday?

A: Players and teams must move out of the clubhouses by 9:00 a.m.

Q: OK, that’s a lot of info to drink in about the schedule for the Cooperstwon Dreams Park Experience?  Can you summarize it?

A: Sure. Here are the highlights:

  • Friday – Plan to arrive, teams should take advantage of early check-in
  • Saturday – Move-in, Player/Parent Orientation, Skills Competitions, Opening Ceremonies
  • Sunday – Pool Play Day 1
  • Monday – Pool Play Day 2
  • Tuesday – Pool Play Day 3
  • Wednesday – Bracket Play Day 1
  • Thursday – Bracket Play Day 2, Family BBQ Dinner, Closing Ceremonies, Championship Game
  • Friday – Move-out

This should provide some guidance for players, teams, and families about what the Cooperstown Dreams Park Schedule entails.  How free time is used is often determined by the coach or manager and can include outings, team meals, and other activities.

Additional resources for info about the Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience can be found at

  1. Coaches Kit (2016) – Includes multiple required forms as well as rules for the tournament
  2. Coaches Corner – Includes weekly and daily itineraries along with other resources
  3. Parent/Camper Kit – Includes waiver forms, rules for the facility, and guidelines on what players should bring with them


This post was sponsored by Training Legends, LLC

Cooperstown Q&A: Grandfather Certificates

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The Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience is a major destination for the 12U age group in travel baseball. With 13 weeks of tournaments every summer, and about 100 teams each week, odds are that some of the talent on display will consist of future college and professional players.  Add in the camp-like atmosphere with players bunking in clubhouses and reduced contact with parents, the experience is definitely unique in the world of travel baseball when compared to other large summer events.

Planning for the Cooperstown trip is almost a year-long process, and many organizations and teams actually begin planning and fundraising even ahead of that timeframe.  While there are many topics that parents, players, and coaches need to consider in the process, this post covers one that many may not be aware of: The Grandfather Certificate.

Here a some answers to questions related to the Grandfather Certificate:

Q: What is the Grandfather Certificate?

A: The Grandfather Certificate is a document that is presented to each team upon completion of their week at Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Q: What is the function of the Grandfather Certificate?

A: The Grandfather Certificate guarantees for the holder that their application to participate in the following year’s Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience will be accepted.

Q: So it’s like a loyalty or affinity program?

A: Yes. For teams and organizations it allows them to plan for the following year with the confidence that they will be able to participate in the event.  For CDP, it helps create and foster a loyal customer base of teams and organizations.

Q: Is a Grandfather Certificate required as part of the application process for a team to attend CDP?

A: No. Teams and Organizations may apply to CDP without having a Grandfather Certificate.

Q: OK but if I have a Grandfather Certificate and include it with my initial application, my application will definitely be approved?

A: Correct.

Q: And if I don’t have a certificate, I can still apply to participate, but it’s not guaranteed that I’ll make it in?

A: Correct.  If your team isn’t placed in a week, the team is put on the waiting list. If the team does not want to stay on the waiting list a refund request for the $1,000 deposit can be made. If a team remains on the waiting list and they’re eligible to play the following year, you can roll the deposit and application to the next year.

Q: How long is the Grandfather Certificate effective?  In other words, I got one in 2016, but I’m not planning to attend again until 2018.  Will my Grandfather Certificate guarantee my entry in 2018?

A: No.  The certificate is only good for the following year and must be submitted with deposit no later then September 15th of the current year.  A certificate from 2016 must be redeemed for use in the 2017 event.

Q: OK so how should I look to bridge the gap?

A: There is no formal process for this, but a simple Google Search for “Cooperstown Grandfather Certificates” reveals an informal, secondary, unsanctioned market where teams and organizations can buy, rent, sell, and trade Grandfather Certificates.  In your scenario, it may be a good option for you look for a team that can use your certificate in the gap year, then return it to you when you need it again.

Q: OK. I don’t have a certificate, but I’m planning to attend Cooperstown.  What should I do?

A: Using your network of baseball contacts, ask around to see if any teams or organizations have certificates for the year you are planning to attend that are not currently reserved for a team.  Beyond this you can explore message boards and other online resources to see what the market is for unused certificates for the year you are planning to attend.

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Q: Are Cooperstown Dreams Park Grandfather Certificates transferable?

A: Yes.  A team or organization may sell, loan, or give their certificate to any other party so that it can be used in the year for which it is effective.

Q: Does Cooperstown Dreams Park sell Grandfather Certificates?

A: No

Q: What are the ways I can get a Cooperstown Grandfather Certificate?

A: There are only 2 ways to get one.  1 – Receive one directly from CDP when you participate in the event.  2 – Receive one from a team or organization through purchase, loan, or gift.

Q: What should I do with my Grandfather Certificate when I no longer need it?

A: Many organizations require that a team return the Certificate to the organization so it can be provided to a team that will use it the following year.  If no such requirement applies to you, then you are free to give, sell, or loan it to another team, or you could let it expire

Hopefully this provides some clarity to you and your organization as you plan for Cooperstown.  Be sure to reference this and other resources on this blog as we build out a knowledge base.

Additional resources for info about the Cooperstown Dreams Park Experience can be found at

  1. Coaches Kit (2016) – Includes multiple required forms as well as rules for the tournament
  2. Coaches Corner – Includes weekly and daily itineraries along with other resources
  3. Parent/Camper Kit – Includes waiver forms, rules for the facility, and guidelines on what players should bring with them


This post was sponsored by Training Legends, LLC