Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Baseball Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) is located in the sleepy little town of Cooperstown, New York. Located right on Main street, the red brick building looks a little bit like a library. But inside it is the mecca for all those fans who love baseball and baseball history.  But even those people who don't know the difference between the Red Sox and the White Sox will find something of interest in the HOF.

My wife and I visited the HOF a few weeks ago. The admission charge for seniors is a very reasonable $12.  Because I am a veteran, there was no charge. The first stop inside is actually a movie, basically going through the history of the game in about 15 minutes. The theater is like a baseball field with stands and a make believe field. You can almost smell the hot dogs and taste the cold beer.

The exhibits begin with the birth of baseball.  Although generally the invention of the game is credited to Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, the exhibits themselves debunk that myth.  There are artifacts showing the idea of striking a ball of some sort with a stick went back in history for many centuries. 

As might be expected, there are whole rooms devoted to the heroes of the game. Babe Ruth is prominently featured, beginning with his days in an  orphanage in Baltimore to his death from cancer. Jackie Robinson is also given the star treatment.  In addition, there are separate rooms demonstrating  the accomplishments of both African-American and Latino players.

There are lockers filled with memorabilia for each of the major league teams. Our favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates was well-represented, including a particularly touching exhibit on the great Robert Clemente, who was voted into the HOF shortly after his untimely death while on a mission of mercy to Nicaraugra in 1972.  Ironically, he had joined the 3000 hit club on his last at bat during the prior season.

Surprisingly, although banned from baseball and presumably ineligible for the HOF, there is actually a display for Pete Rose, trumpeting his position as the all time hits leader.  Similarly, there is a display for the dishonored Barry Bonds, who does hold the major league record for home runs. Hank Aaron, the acknowledged unassisted  home run champ is given a large display detailing his long career.

Most impressive at the end of your tour is the actual hall of bronze plaques honoring all of the HOF members.  It is a little like being in church.

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After leaving the HOF, we stopped for lunch at the Doubleday Café, just a few steps away from the HOF at 93 Main Street. We sat at the bar and had tremendous hamburgers and a local draft beer. I highly recommend it

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