By Stan Randolph
No trip to the New England area is complete for a true baseball fan without a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I had the opportunity to visit Cooperstown a couple of weeks ago and wish I would have had more time in the Hall as well as the baseball memorabilia stores in town.
To start off my wife and I were driving from Niagara Falls to Cooperstown which is about a 4 and a half hour drive. I misread the hours the Hall was open to read from 9 to 9.
I started on the 3rd floor in the section appropriately named Sacred Ground. There are artifacts, information, videos, and of course one of my favorite sections the Hank Aaron Gallery. (The true all-time homerun champion).
They have the famed “Who’s on first” skit on a video that never gets old.
The second floor is perhaps the most extensive of the Hall’s areas that starts with the Grandstand Theater showing “The Baseball Experience” from there you can follow the history of the game from the Civil War to the earliest professional teams. One section is dedicated to the Negro Leagues. (How many home runs would Josh Gibson have hit in the Major Leagues?). Today it seems so ridiculous that these great players were restricted from being a part of major league baseball.
The next area was the first floor section with a section called Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse which includes games, books, and videos that catch a child’s attention.
The most important section to me was the Hall of Fame Gallery with the plaques of all of the members of the Hall of Fame. I was able to read the plaques of my childhood heroes: Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, and of course Hank Aaron. I also saw the open plaque areas that will be filled this summer with plaques of Mike Piazza and the best baseball player of my children’s era Ken Griffey Jr.
I recommend this for any true baseball fan but note that Cooperstown is not on a major highway. It is a bit off the beaten path. I can’t imagine what the small roads and the small town is like during induction week (but I think I would like to find out some day). We were there in mid-April and the Hall as well as the memorabilia stores closed early. They were literally locking the doors behind me. The town itself has a number of sports (baseball) memorabilia stores and restaurants.
Being able to stand on the front steps and image what it was like for players like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and all of the others to stand there as new members of an incredible fraternity of the greatest baseball players of all time. I can’t wait to go again.