Most of the Hard 90 Clutch players have been waiting 4 to 5 years for the big first day at Cooperstown Dreams Park. Three of the Hard 90 Clutch players had older brothers visit Cooperstown with Hard 90 and have waited for their time to shine.
The vision for the Hard 90 Clutch began 4 years ago after the final out of the Hard 90 Legacy Premier’s Cooperstown run. My older son Devon was on the Legacy Premier and I could not wait for Jordan to be able to experience Cooperstown with his older brother as a coach. The three of us in the Disneyland for baseball - as Jordan was able to experience Cooperstown with his best buddies.
So it began - we returned home to the Hard 90 Clubhouse and formed the Hard 90 Pound - the predecessor to the Clutch. Four of the Clutch players were on the original Pound team. Over the next year we picked up most of the remaining Clutch players forming a nucleus that has played together over the last 3 years. It has been absolutely amazing to see each one of these boys develop through baseball.
At the beginning of the 2018/2019 season, the Clutch players met and formed a goal to win the Cooperstown tournament. Over the last 12 months, the Clutch has taken on all comers- playing the top competition in the Western United States with one sole goal - get ready for Cooperstown. Some of the players have trained 5 to 6 days a week for the last 12 months getting ready for this trip. It has not been an easy road - big sacrifice by the boys and their families - but the boys formed a brotherhood and today was the day for their dream to begin.
The travel to Cooperstown from Sacramento makes for a long day - but the anticipation of reuniting with teammates for a week long summer baseball camp makes the time go by fast.
The drive from Syracuse or Albany is gorgeous. It feels as if you are traveling back in time. Old houses, small towns, family farms, lakes and beautiful hills and greenery. That said - as you head down Highway 28 and come up on Cooperstown Dreams Park is when the magic really begins.
Out of nowhere appears well manicured grounds with a grand entrance welcoming all 104 teams (approximately 1,250 12 year olds, over 200 coaches and over 100 umpires.) The staff is a well oiled machine and they welcome you to their home and usher straight into the Village - over 100 barracks style buildings where the boys will call home for the next week.
The drive in reminded me of the great dialogue from Field of Dreams:
John Kinsella: Is this heaven?
Ray Kinsella: It's Iowa.
John Kinsella: Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.
John Kinsella: Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true.
Ray Kinsella: [Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch] Maybe this is heaven.
For all intensive purposes the Cooperstown Dreams Park is the 12U Field of Dreams.
The Clutch arrived to Cooperstown around 9PM. Parents getting the barracks arranged just right and kids waiting patiently for their parents to head back to their houses so they can hang out with their buddies. Shortly after the parents left - the boys had some free time to catch up and head over to the snack shack - to enjoy a hamburger, hot dog or some candy.
At promptly 10:00PM, the Clutch started their first of nightly meetings. The agenda for the first night was set to lay the ground rules for the week, discuss expectations and the daily schedule.
At 10:30PM - it was lights out for the boys - albeit - I think some feel asleep closer to midnight due to the excitement.
Established in 2005, Hard 90 Baseball has been traveling to Cooperstown each year. This is an amazing trip where players are able to truly enjoy "youth" baseball and through this process mature to get ready for high school. Hard 90 is currently forming high level teams for Cooperstown 2020 and Cooperstown 2021. Register your interest for our youth travel teams. Sign up today as spots are limited.