Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Baseball Hall of Fame: Cooperstown, NY

When we agreed to come visit our son I think he was concerned about how he would entertain us for one whole day and 2 partial days.  Then one afternoon when he and I were on the phone he suddenly yelled, "I know!  Let's go to the Hall of Fame!"

I knew which Hall of Fame he meant since all of us are baseball fans and because Blake lives in New York.  Cooperstown is about 2 hours from where he lives near Albany but we have the whole day and I knew David would like this idea so the plan was set.

If you read the previous story you might remember that the night before was Blake's 21st birthday.  You may also remember that he left his debit card at the bar so after picking him up, we had to wait around for the bar to open.  When they wouldn't give him his card until the safe could be opened after 4, we went on with David and I footing the bill for the day.

It took us nearly 4 hours to get to the Hall of Fame.  Back in Dallas, David wanted to get there early because I think in his mind, we were going to be there all day.  Hours and hours of touring every nook and cranny of the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.  After the delay at the bar and then stopping for food and to take pictures along the way, we didn't arrive until well after lunch.

I expect there to be a big parking lot here.  There isn't.  We are forced to park on a residential street a couple of blocks away after I circled the area a couple of times trying to figure out which building was the Hall of Fame.  It is smaller and less grand on the outside than I expected.  

Blake's missing debit card doesn't matter here, active military always get in free.  Photography is allowed and I am going to show a sample here of what I took, not everything.  If you want to see everything, go to Cooperstown yourself.  Don't make me do all of the work for you.

After paying for David & I, we enter and immediately see the first of many, many, many, many things dedicated to the New York Yankees and the only one that makes any sense to me.  I did notice that a lot of the people here are wearing Yankees gear and I keep thinking to myself, why?  Full Disclosure:  I don't like the Yankees.  And I especially don't like Mark Teixiera.  This has nothing to do with his being a former Ranger either.  It has to do with the way he walks with his butt sticking out.

The displays are split into sections but honestly, I think this does little to help.  There is so much to see it is a little overwhelming.

Some displays are large like this case of old catcher's equipment.  Each piece has a little plaque with information about the item, where it came from, who wore it, how it was made, etc.  You would be here all day if you read every single one.  Something I am hoping the boys won't do.

There were a lot of these cutouts (they guy in the middle is the cutout, the very real David is on the left and Blake is on the right).  The cutouts were on the wall in all manner of poses from this casual leaning-on-my-bat pose to home run trot to the full leg kick of a pitcher.  Some were life-size, some weren't.

As you saw from the sign there are sections dedicated to a theme, like the segregation and then desegregation of baseball.

I didn't realize that before Jackie Robinson - who to my surprise wasn't a key feature of this display - black and white men played on the same teams.  The whole Jackie Robinson Day is such a big thing I assumed it was always segregated before that.  This photo from Findlay, OH shows two black men on the roster.  It wasn't until 1890 that the game was segregated but it stayed that way for a long time.

Having seen A League of Their Own and being a woman who has played amateur men's rules baseball, I was interested to see the Diamond Dreams display on Women in Baseball.  

Where you can see the uniforms that inspired the costumes in the movie.

And the more modern uniforms of Team USA and the Silver Bullets of Colorado who played against men's college and minor league teams from 1994-1997.  Today, women who want to play competitive baseball are largely out of luck.  My boss knew someone in the Texas Rangers front office and I tried to get him to get me an audition as the bullpen catcher but that never materialized.  I like to think it is because he found me too valuable to his own company to let me go.

The Diamond Dreams exhibit was smaller than I expected based on what you see in the movie.  Someone told me that they change these over time and that this one was made smaller several years ago.

This was one of the things my boys really wanted to see.  The locker room.  Each team has a locker with a variety of team items in it.  I think all of us are surprised that the uniform belongs to Michael Young when we expected either Josh Hamilton or Yu Darvish.

David completely missed the display directly across from here that contained Josh Hamilton's bat, something he wanted to see.  Fortunately, Blake knew where it was and took us back.  The way the displays are done can be confusing and it is easy to completely miss things or to get to a hallway and not remember if you went that way or not. 

The variety of things to see - and hear - is huge.  This machine allows you to push a button to hear a particular version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

I select Carly Simon.  Does anyone know who Dr. John is?  I don't.

This electronic board shows all kinds of baseball records.  Here you can see it is on Most Home Runs.  My brother and his family are HUGE Yankee fans who would probably take exception to this photo of Alex Rodriguez, a NY Yankee for some time now, as the active career home run leader (through 2011).  He is wearing his Texas Rangers batting helmet.  Don't worry, I want him to take it off too Aaron (Aaron is my brother, not to be confused with Hank Aaron the baseball player who he was not named after although I could imagine him telling people he was).

And while we are on the subject of the Yankees... I finally realized why there were so many people wearing Yankee gear here.  The Hall of Fame is IN NEW YORK.  And yes, there might be a lot of Yankee fans out there but they are also closer to this place than we as Rangers fans are.  And yes, I see that they have the most World Championships.  Good for them.  It isn't my fault that my team has only been around since the 1970's in Texas.  It is my opinion that being a Yankee fan is easy.  They win, they almost always make the playoffs, they spend a lot of money on their team.  You have some reasonable expectation of continued success.  Being a Texas Ranger fan takes real commitment and a lot of heart.  Something I don't think Yankee fans need.

This display was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting.  The World Series rings and medals (before there were rings).  

As you get to the hall were all of the inductee plaques are, you see that it is possible for a New York Yankee (Mickey Mantle) and a Boston Red Sox (Ted Williams) to peacefully coexist...if they are both inanimate wood statues.

Here is Blake next to the plaques which are arranged in chronological order.  The boys seek out a few specific ones but thankfully don't feel obligated to read the details on every one.

Each one provides key stats and information for that player.  I find myself wondering what they will do someday when this hall is full.  And since I don't really need to read any of these, I wander off toward the end of the museum.

Where there is a small display I know David will like.

And I find a display I really like on photography.  The only thing I didn't like about this display (my favorite image was the one here which took 2nd place in 2005) is that this contest is only open to professional photographers.  No amateurs allowed.

For anyone bringing kids along, there is a small play area all the way at the end of the museum.  Blake was too big to play in here so we had to keep him with us the whole time.  I don't think the Hall of Fame is a place for kids between 1 and say 10.  It is too big and not very interactive.  I don't see kids that young really enjoying it and I do see them getting on their dad's nerves.  In fact I did see that more than once.

It was rainy most of the day so I didn't go out to the grounds where there were a few statues.  On the way out I did drive around there so the boys could get out and look.  All-in-all, I think we spent about 2 hours inside.  Not the whole day David expected.  Thankfully.

I wish we could have checked out some of Cooperstown - the city.  The street is lined with primarily baseball related business such as souvenir stores, additional museums and restaurants.  But since it was raining, we decided to head on back (which also turned out to be not a direct trip, more on that and our extra long drive to Cooperstown next time).

Ultimately, I am glad we went but I don't think I would ever go back, even though they change it over time.  I also think I would be less likely to go to other Halls of Fame after having been here.  I enjoy baseball but I guess I don't need to take a pilgrimage to see the used shoes or shirt of some person who didn't even know I existed and probably wouldn't care that I was here if they did know.

Besides, if I want to see some man's clothes laying around, I can do that at home.  Or at Blake's apartment.

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