Elihu Phinney's cows first grazed the rolling hills near Cooperstown, N.Y., in the summer of 1794. Back then, the valley was home to a rugged frontier outpost located days from civilization, but Phinney had been lured there by the promise of freedom and the hope of fertile, productive ground.
The farmstead where he settled, a broad expanse that stretched along the base of green hills, was coveted for its flat, productive pasture that rested along the road.
It was a good place to raise cows.
When Phinney passed away in 1813, little did he know this pasture would form the basis of an American legend.
It was here that the first diamond was paced off in the tall grass.
It was here that the first smack of bat against ball echoed across the valley. And it was here, the legend has it, that Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball in the summer of 1839.
One hundred seventy years later, the game of baseball continues to define us, even as it serves to unite us with one another.
And for all its legendary moments, it remains a game of majestic simplicity. It transcends both time and generations. It bridges the past and the future. It is the hope of spring when the first grass begins to surge, and the embodiment of work well done when the leaves begin to turn.
The dairy business is much the same.
Despite all the changes, despite all the economic pressures and opportunities, it remains what it was when people first started raising food for their families, friends and neighbors.
Like the World Series, World Dairy Expo is the celebration of a way of life, a culmination of a year's worth of trial and error, success and failure, and a commitment of people around the planet whose single purpose is to see their livelihood continue.
And, like a visit to that old pasture in Cooperstown, a few days at World Dairy Expo stirs the imagination like few other places, inspiring us to push further when times are tough, and to lift our eyes to the fences and swing with all we've got. WDE