Recently, I attended the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where I worked on writing stuff that is longer than haikus. After I arrived, I realized the college was only about 90 minutes drive from Cooperstown. We had a free day on the weekend in the middle of our two-week conference, so I made a day trip to Cooperstown. It also happened to be Hall of Fame Induction Weekend – perfect timing! In this post, I will talk about my Baseball Hall of Fame visit and my next post will cover the Parade of Legends.
I got to Cooperstown around midday and there was quite a long line to get into the Hall of Fame, but it moved pretty quickly. Inside, it was packed, and I would definitely like to visit again sometime on a normal day where I could feel less rushed and jostled. I still managed to check out the whole collection and spent about three hours in the museum and store. Ken Griffey, Jr and Mike Piazza were being inducted, so there were many Mets, Mariners, and Reds fans in attendance. There were long lines to see the display cases devoted to those guys.
The exhibits that tell the history of the game are really great and packed with info. I also enjoyed the exhibit on women in baseball.
Probably some of my favorite parts of the museum were the kitschy nostalgic things, like seeing the old handheld baseball electronic game from the 80s and the San Diego chicken costume. They had the little plastic helmets for each team that were used for sundaes at Baskin-Robbins. I remember trying to collect them all. I saw a package of Big League Chew that I would always chew during my softball games, pretending it was chewing tobacco. The museum has so many happy baseball memories.
I spent most of my time looking at the Cardinals exhibits and there were plenty. It was amazing to see the Stan Musial locker display. I also liked the Whitey Ball exhibit and the more recent items including David Freese’s home run back from the 2011 World Series Game 6. I took photos of each Cardinal hall of famer plaque and most of the Cardinals memorabilia on display. You can see all my photos here.
The town of Cooperstown is really cute and has a “Main Street USA” feel to it. I checked out many of the memorabilia shops. There were a lot of baseball players doing signings at these stores, even Pete Rose (isn’t it kind of painful for him to be there on that particular weekend?). For some reason, Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart was also signing. I took a break at the Cooperstown Distillery tasting room and had a good cocktail. Love the baseball bottles! I hope to return and tour the distillery.
With baseball fans of all different teams and all ages visiting that weekend, united by their love of the game, I couldn’t help but feel America is still pretty darn great.