Locals react to Obama in Cooperstown

By Matt Porter

May 22, 2014 Updated May 22, 2014 at 10:54 PM EST

Cooperstown, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In a town normally known for hosting baseball's all-stars, crowds turned out not for a big leaguer, but a chance to see the country's biggest leader: The President of the United States.

Christina Wright traveled from Ilion hoping to catch a glimpse of the commander in chief.

"We're here obviously to see him," Wright said, "But we're hoping to just be part of the excitement of the day."

David Girdany, visiting from Somerset, Pa., said he's glad to see his favorite vacation spot getting some national attention.

"I think it's a great thing for the town," Girdany said. "I love this town, that's why my wife and I have a second vacation home here."

John Erickson came from Schenectady. His son used to cover Cooperstown as a reporter before he died last year of pancreatic cancer.

Wednesday, he got the call from the president of the Hall of Fame, Jeff Idelson.

"Jeff was a good friend of his, and so he called me last night and asked if I would like to come sort of in honor of my youngest," Erickson said.

Not everyone was happy to see the president roll into town, Brian Paterno, owner of the Paterno Brothers souvenir shop, didn't want to see the hall of fame closed the day before the big Memorial Day weekend.

"He's here to support tourism, but you closed the whole town," Paterno said. "So how is that helping our tourism."

The president pushed to help more international tourists experience the birthplace of baseball, something Cooperstown Village Trustee Cynthia Falk said will be a boost for the community.

"It was incredibly exciting," Falk said. "This is such an amazing event for the village of Cooperstown to have the president of the United States here and really talk about tourism."

With big international names expected to be inducted into baseball's hallowed hall in the next decade, making foreign visits easier could be a home run in Cooperstown.

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