A Round to Remember

Hall of Fame Golf Classic combines the best of baseball and the beauty of Cooperstown

April 19, 2013
Museum supporter David Lustig shares a moment with Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven during the 2012 Cooperstown Golf Classic. (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

For a baseball fan, the annual Cooperstown Golf Classic represents the round of a lifetime.

Museum Member David Vernon Lustig has repeated that 18-hole dream in each of the last three years – and will return to Cooperstown again this Memorial Day Weekend. But for Lustig, the chance to drive and putt with Hall of Famers is only a part of what brings him back again and again.

“The best things about the village are reinforced by the best things about the Hall of Fame, and vice versa,” said Lustig, a New York City resident who has embarked on a second career as a theatrical producer following a career in public affairs. “It’s one of those two-plus-two-equals-five situations.

“The Museum and the town just seem perfect together.”

The fourth annual Cooperstown Golf Classic will be held May 24-26 and will feature Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Phil Niekro. A maximum field of 24 golfers will play 18 holes with the Hall of Famers on the Leatherstocking Golf Course, the same course the legends of the game play during the annual Hall of Fame Weekend.

“The Hall of Famers are typical golfers – and they are as a group an exceptionally nice group of guys who you could easily see yourself playing with on any weekend,” Lustig said. “And some of them are really good golfers – I think because swinging a bat is so much like swinging a golf club.

“The big thing, though, is that they are all approachable. You feel like you’re playing with your friends.”

The weekend begins Friday, May 24 with the Welcome Dinner in the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery. On Saturday, May 25, golfers will enjoy the Hall of Fame Classic festivities, complete with premium grandstand VIP tickets to the 2 p.m. Hall of Fame Classic – a seven-inning legends game featuring the Hall of Famers at Doubleday Field. Following the Classic, golfers will enjoy a Hall of Fame archive tour with a chance to see the Museum’s incredible collection. And Saturday night is topped off with A Night at the Museum, a chance to meet-and-greet Hall of Fame Classic players in an invitation-only event at the Hall of Fame.

Then on Sunday, May 26, the Cooperstown Golf Classic begins at 7 a.m. at Leatherstocking Golf Course, followed by an awards luncheon and autographs.

For Lustig, the entire weekend is a chance for him and wife Robin to step back in time.

“My son and I played in a father/son baseball camp in Cooperstown in 1992 during which I pitched a game against a visiting semi-pro team from Japan, and that really rekindled my interest in baseball and the Hall of Fame,” Lustig said. “Then in 2010, my wife – who is a dramatist and has used the Hall of Fame Library for research – found out about the golf tournament and figured it would be a perfect gift. I figured it would be a great one-time experience, but my wife and I now find ourselves enjoying it as a mini-vacation… and a great way to support the Hall, every year.

“Play a couple rounds of golf, stay at the Otesaga (Resort Hotel) and visit the Hall of Fame. You just immerse yourself in Cooperstown, and I think quite a few of the golfers return every year for the same reason.”

Proceeds from the Cooperstown Golf Classic support the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and its mission to Preserve History, Honor Excellence and Connect Generations. For more details on the Cooperstown Golf Classic or to reserve your spot, call 607-547-0310.

“(Cooperstown) harkens back to a simpler time in American life, or at least how we like to envision those days,” Lustig said. “It’s a great place to ‘exhale’.

“And it’s a wonderful weekend – and a chance to help an extremely worthy cause in the Hall of Fame.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum