COOPERSTOWN – For 51 of the 52 weekends a year, Cooperstown is a quiet little village on the shore of Lake Otsego where half the population is over 45.

However, one weekend a year, fathers and sons sporting baseball jerseys and curbside vendors selling everything from shot glasses to autographed bats descend on this village.

This celebration is for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and for the first time in three years it returned in 2022 on the fourth Sunday in July.

Hall of Fame inductee David Ortiz, formerly of the Boston Red Sox, speaks during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Sunday, July 24, 2022, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, NY (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

An estimated 35,000 people braved the unbearable heat and humidity to attend Sunday’s induction at the Clark Sports Center, just south of downtown.

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This year’s promotion was notable for Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, who played for the Minnesota Twins in the 1960s and 70s, and Bud Fowler, baseball’s first black player who grew up in Cooperstown and is buried in Franklin.

But the biggest star was David Ortiz. Ortiz thanked Cooperstown in his speech, saying the village treated his family the right way.

Clockwise from top left, Josh Rawitch, chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, holding the plaque for inductee Bud Fowler, inductee Jim Kaat, inductee Tony Oliva , inductee David Ortiz, Sharon Rice-Minoso, holding her husband's plaque and inductee Minnie Minoso, Dr. Angela Terry, holding her uncle's plaque and inductee John Jordan O'Neil, and Irene Hodges, holding her uncle's plaque his father and inductee Gil Hodges, pose for a photo at the conclusion of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Sunday, July 24, 2022, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, NY (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Red Sox legend seemed to draw the biggest crowd in Cooperstown.

Many fans drove four hours from Boston to see Big Papi being inducted. The streets were filled with Massachusetts and New Hampshire license plates, and to many it looked like a game in Fenway Park, especially when Ortiz gave his speech.

Frank Alberti, general manager of Seventh Inning Stretch, a Main Street store, said the large abundance of Red Sox fans came as no surprise.

“Any time you got a Yankee or a Red Sox [player] come in, people are coming to support their player and their team,” he said. « Mariano [Rivera] was the big name in 2019, and Ortiz was the big name this year, and they drew pretty much the same crowd.

Hall of Fame communications director Craig Muder said Ortiz’s reception made the weekend unique.

Ortiz is only the fourth Dominican player to earn a spot in Cooperstown and remains hugely popular with Dominican baseball fans.

Dominican Republic baseball fans attend the induction ceremony in support of David Ortiz.

During the ceremony, many participants waved Dominican flags and chanted “Papi! »

Ortiz spoke in Spanish during part of his speech.

Loud cheering was not exclusive to Ortiz, however. Fans also celebrated inductees Oliva and Minnie Minoso, who are both Cuban. Minoso was the first Afro-Latino to play in the major leagues.

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Muder said the size of the crowd at the induction increased from around 15,000 in 2014 to 35,000 in 2015, and this year has returned to the mark.

Alberti agreed and added that business was much better than last September’s postponed induction, when only 20,000 customers showed up.

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“We are not quite back yet. The last few years, even before COVID, seemed a bit different, but we are on the right track,” he said.

As in previous years, Saturday attracted the largest crowds. In the morning, hordes of people waited on Route 80 near the Leatherstocking Golf Course, where the Hall of Fame golf tournament was taking place.

Jim Kaat (left) and David Ortiz (center) at the Saturday Baseball Hall of Fame Parade in downtown Cooperstown, NY

Despite temperatures reaching the mid-90s, crowds filled Main Street, which was closed to traffic until Sunday evening.

People started setting up in the early afternoon for Saturday’s main event, the parade down Chestnut Street and Main Street.

Many stood outside the museum, where the parade ends, and most Hall of Famers stayed and signed autographs before entering the private reception.

On Sunday, Alberti said he remained stable throughout the morning before calming down as masses moved towards the induction site. MLB Network emcee Brian Kenny said the ceremony was streamlined to prepare for rain later in the day. No rain fell during the event, but it did fall shortly after.

Main Street in Cooperstown on the evening of the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Sunday July 24, 2022

Many people took refuge in the museum, where Ortiz and the rest of the Class 2022 plaques were unveiled. A line remained in the gallery until the museum closed at 9 p.m.

When the museum closed, Main Street was once again open to traffic. Some groups stayed and dined at local restaurants, but for the most part Cooperstown had returned to a quiet form.

The city set off fireworks over Lake Otsego as the sun set to celebrate the end of another successful Hall of Fame weekend.