Cooperstown Hosts the NU News for 43 Years

Cooperstown Hosts the NU News for 43 Years

As the grand blizzard of winter 1978 melted into spring, an idea was hatched that old college friends should meet somewhere cool and play softball, hit a few restaurants and camp out to save money. Out in the world for a few years, it was time to reunite and play some ball. Logistically, the best place to hook up for several reasons was in quaint Cooperstown, N.Y., since most Newsers were baseball fans, and it is about equal in miles from Greater Boston and Metro New York.  

A motley collection of Northeastern graduates gathers at the Shadow Brook Campground in 2017. NEWSers (seated l-r) Karen Kaeser, Jeannie Ryder, Maggie Rhodes, Dixie Tourangeau. Standing (l-r): Scott Kaeser, Barry Gilbert, Rick Brown, Ed Rice, John O’Leary, John Mello, Len Gamache

In late June nearly two full News teams’ worth of players assembled, most camping at Glimmerglass State Park, about seven miles north of the Village. We played at the local grammar school field, despite it being in only fair condition. Evening dining was at the Pioneer Patio (still in business), and morning breakfast at The Shortstop Diner (long gone). A good time was had by all, so much so that it was planned again for 1979. More people were invited, and, at the dinner, Kathy Kepner (became Beiser in 1971) was given the first annual MVP Award for play above her seeming ability the previous year. Husband Marty of seven years said, “I didn’t know you could hit!” 

By year three it was evident that the State Park was not able to handle certain things our group needed, and we moved the camping element to private Shadowbrook Campground three miles up Route 31, only one mile off Route 20, the nearest main highway. That change allowed tent clusters and reservations. Over the ensuing years, more News people were invited as well as friends (always needed players). We started to play softball on the rolling grassland of Glimmerglass. Otsego Lake swimming was 500 feet away — perfect.  

     The Cooperstown Camping Weekend became a staple, even though most folks did not come every year. We’ve had as few as 10 and as many as 60 (friends galore), but always around a 20-25 person core, mostly tenters and some motelers. Age eventually took a toll on the softball. Cooperstown’s fine Bassett Hospital does not have that many EMT trucks. So, golf and tennis became replacement activities along with wine tastings, antique shopping, craft beer buying, visiting the Hall of Fame and Farmers’ Museum and just being plain area tourists. Some children, now adults, grew up with Cooperstown as a yearly play date. A third generation now fills that role.

The cast of Northeastern campers et. al. attending a performance at the Glimmer Glass Festival Opera, joined here by the company’s director Francesca Zambello (red and gold scarf)

     In the late 1980s we decided to save some dinner funds and enjoy the campground a little more by cooking for ourselves. Everyone chips in as best they can as needed, and we have a certain few who are “in charge” of culinary details. Those details include a “trashcan turkey” feast with apple cobbler dessert on one night. In 1992 bigtime “culture” hit the weekend when we started our “Night at the Opera” for those who had tolerated sports all those years. The stunning Glimmerglass Opera House was pretty new and remains fantastic. The whole setup is really a small version of the Berkshires’ Tanglewood. We saw no reason not to adopt it. 

     After 42 straight years, only the coronavirus stopped Cooperstown from happening in 2020. So, Year 43 belatedly came to fruition in August 2021. For several years we have invited a few guests from the Village for the turkey feast, people from the Hall of Fame whom we have befriended. In 2017, the “Career Camping MVP” was awarded to cook and turkey mistress Karen Kaeser. Jeff Katz, then mayor of Cooperstown and an acquaintance through baseball research, handed Karen her plaque. Another guest at the Campground has been current Glimmerglass Opera director Francesca Zambello, who is fascinated by her “camping operagoers.” 

The Cooperstown Weekend: an idea that stuck.