Cooperstown Tournament vs Cal Ripken’s Experience, Part 1

Cooperstown or Cal Rikpen's?  Which is better?

Which is better Cooperstown tournament or Cal Ripken’s in Disney World?  My husband I are asked this question often. I don't know about my husband but my answer is I liked them both because they were very different from each other.  I think it depends on your preference.  I really think my family is very fortunate to be able to go to both tournaments.  We went to the famous Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament in 2019 when my older son was 12.  We also went to the Cal Ripken’s Experience Tournament in Disney World last summer (2021) and my son’s team played in 12U.  I would like to thank my boys including my husband for playing baseball because those tournaments are FUN!

Please remember that these are my experiences and they might be different from what others experienced.  If you want to know more about these tournaments, please visit their websites. I am sure that many things are different from when we went due to COVID.  I am hoping that my experience will be somewhat helpful.  Here we go! 

Cooperstown vs Cal Ripken's tournament comparison

Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament : Where is it? How much was it? Details, please!

This weeklong tournament is very famous among the baseball enthusiasts.  It is held at Cooperstown Dreams Park in Cooperstown, upstate New York and only 12U teams are allowed to participate in this tournament.  Looks like there are other tournaments held in the area but this one is the most famous one.  The tournament spots are usually filled up very quickly; most spots are usually taken by the end of summer for the following summer.  The tournament organizer accepts registration in a couple of years advance as long as your team pay for deposit.  The all-inclusive tournament fee is about $1300 per player/coach.  For the detailed registration and schedule, please look up the official tournament website.

How was the barrack? Where did you stay? How much was it?

 The players and coaches stayed in a barrack away from the parents during the tournament. The tournament website has the list of accommodations around the area for the parents.  It is like whole town is turned in to AirBnB!  Many of the residents rent out part of their houses or whole house during the summer for people like us.  We booked our suites in December.  It was right around $1000 for the week for 2-bedroom suite with living room with TV and full kitchen.  There was a laundry room downstairs with coin operated washer and dryer and parking in the back.  We drove about 10 minutes to the ballpark every morning.  I remember the parking was free at the ballpark but be ready to walk for 10+ minutes if your game is all the way in the back. 

Cooperstown Dreams Park Blog 1

1. Entrance, 2. Big Stadium,  3. Outside of the Big Stadium,  4. Barrack

It sounds like any other tournaments that we have been to.  I agree with you except for the house that we stayed in.  If I go there again, I would like to stay at a hotel because I WAS SCARED OF THE HOUSE!  If you like old Victorian looking historical structure, I am sure that you will love it but I didn’t.  It made squeaky noises and the room decor was weird.  Too bad I don't have the pictures of the house. Only nice thing about this place was that there was a notebook in the kitchen and people who stayed there left a message.  The people who stayed there before us left a sweet message and their team pin for us.  So, we did the same for the next people.  Whoever stayed at the haunted house after us, did you get my pin?

What are those pins?  Where did you get the pin book?

Each team brought their own customized pins to exchange with the participating players, umps and the Cooperstown Dreams Park workers.  My younger son was so into this thing and he carried around his pin book to everywhere.  This pin book is sold at the gift shop inside of the Cooperstown Dreams Park, next to big white tent.  I think it was around $25.  He was in business everyday to collect as many pins as possible.  If your team needs a team pin, you can Google baseball pins and many companies pop up in the search result.  The cheap ones are around $1ea and they can go up depending on what you want and how you want to customize.  Some are made with 2 parts, some with a spin wheel, and some with player's names engraved.  They were all unique and beautiful.  My boys still look at them time to time.  It is such a great way to remember the precious week in Cooperstown.

**If you want to know about pins, please see my other blog, All About Baseball Trading Pins

How was the weather?  Was it hot at the field?  What should I bring?

I remember that it was hot and humid and it rained a lot while we were there.  Lucky us, a bad thunderstorm came in while we were there.  You might get truly lucky to have a glorious sunny week but just in case, you might want to have a light jacket.  Don’t forget to have a small towel if rains.  There are chairs for you at the fields but they might be wet.  Yes, there is a covered areas next to dugouts, but the space is limited.  You can watch from the covered area or open area along the first and third baselines.  I remember bringing some chairs but not canopies.  If there are some rain delays, the organizer tries to squeeze all the scheduled games in the day, meaning that your team might play really late.  In fact, there were some teams playing after midnight to finish the game for the day. I know it is crazy but I guess they must finish everything within the timeframe that they have.  New set of teams are coming in next week, you know.

The fields were very small (maybe around 225) and many kids were hitting homeruns at Cooperstown Dreams Park.  So, be careful with the flying balls while you are walking.  It sounds unreal but a foul ball fell in my purse while I was waiting for my son next to a field!  Good thing it didn’t hit my head.  Yes, I engraved the ball at the souvenir shop and brought it home with me.  Don’t forget to check what kind of bats are allowed.  If you can use a bat with more pop, why not use one!  It is a great opportunity for your kids to hit homeruns. 

What kind of teams participate in the tournament?  D1s?  Are we good enough?

People often ask what kind of teams participated in the tournament.  My answer is all different kind and levels of teams are participating in this tournament.  Some are really good D1 teams with huge kids and some are D3 level teams.  My son’s team was D2 level travel ball team and we did well.  We had good pool games for a couple of days and we had 3 bracket games for the following couple of days.  The big difference between the Cooperstown and Cal Ripken’s is that Cooperstown has only 1 winner in the tournament week while Cal Ripken’s has winners in each bracket, Gold, Silver and Bronze.  This means that D1 level travel teams have higher chance to win the championship in Cooperstown but any level teams have an opportunity to win at Cal Ripken’s.

1. The Cheeseburger, 2. The Red Barn Ice Cream, 3. Inside of barrack, 4. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

What else can we do in Cooperstown?  Where can we visit?

After we were done with the tournament, we visited the famous National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and gift shops in the downtown Cooperstown.  Depending on when you get there, the parking in downtown can be hectic.  Just like any other tourist areas, there are many gift shops on the downtown streets, and they were like treasure box to my husband.  Many had some rare baseball stuff and I really enjoyed visiting them.  Once we left downtown area, we had a very delicious ice cream at red barn on a country road and had a great tasting cheeseburger at a restaurant while a thunderstorm moved in.  We also found a Chinese takeout place very close to the ballpark and surprisingly the Chinese food was good! After a long day of games, our team went to the pizza place right outside of the ballpark gate one evening.  The place was very busy but it was a perfect place to have a team dinner.  What else??? Honestly, there was not much going on other than baseball. But it is Cooperstown, the home of baseball. 

My Cooperstown Experience

The week passed by so fast.  I still remember the beautiful green baseball fields vividly.  The memory is so precious to me because my son will never be 12 again.  My husband and I looked for a baseball team that participated in the Cooperstown tournament for our younger son.  However, we couldn’t find a good team for him unfortunately.  WE WERE NOT MEANT TO GO THERE AGAIN…  While we were sad and disappointed, a new opportunity came up.

In the next blog, I will write about the Cal Ripken’s Experience in Disney World.  If you are interested, please register your email address using the box below to receive more helpful information.  Don’t forget to check out my baseball mom jewelry, too.  Thank you for reading.  See you next time!



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