Yesterday Tom and I drove to Cooperstown New York to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. We set aside an entire day to go to the museum because I wanted to take my time and not be rushed through it. We took the scenic route to Cooperstown, driving parallel to the interstate instead of on it. On the way we passed through Unadilla, which had banners all over town celebrating its Boy Scout Troop. BSA 1 was recognized in 2010 as the oldest continually chartered Boy Scout troop in the USA. While not the first troop to register with the new Boy Scouts of America organization in 1910 – its charter was the 166th out of about 4,000 issued that year – it has achieved a 100 year record of unbroken registration unmatched by any other Boy Scout troop in the nation. Today, over 2,000 men are alumni of this troop.
When we got to Cooperstown we were amazed by the traffic. We parked at the first public parking space we came to and paid the $14 for parking so that we wouldn’t have to fight the traffic (or the very irritable police officer who was directing it). We weren’t sure where the Baseball Hall of Fame was, so we followed the flow of people until, suddenly, we were in front of it.
We paid the entrance fee and there we were, surrounded by lockers representing each team in Major League Baseball. We found the Indians locker and admired the jerseys and memorabilia in it. We watched a movie, “The Baseball Experience,” which was more emotional (how baseball and memories of it make you feel) than informative. Then we worked our way, with crowds of people, through the exhibits. At first it was difficult to fight our way forward enough to see anything, but after a while the crowds thinned out a bit and I could spend more time looking and reading. The print on most of the exhibits was very small and you had to get very close to read it.
I really enjoyed several parts of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The exhibit on the integration of baseball was really good with an excellent timeline that ran concurrent with civil rights issues in the US at the time. Immediately after the Civil War, baseball teams were integrated, but as time went on and segregation was institutionalized, the teams became black or white until Jackie Robinson was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The exhibit on Women in Baseball was also very interesting. I knew about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League which was formed during WWII, but I didn’t know that a female pitcher had actually played minor league ball and won a game (Ila Borders). I also didn’t know that there were always women’s professional teams who “barnstormed” around the United States. Tom and I had a discussion about whether or not there could be women who could play major league baseball. I think there could, if they were allowed, but Tom thinks they couldn’t compete against the men. What do you think? People used to think women couldn’t preach either: Samuel Johnson said, “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
The third area of the Baseball Hall of Fame that I really enjoyed was the records section. Who hit the most home runs in a season, in a career. Who had the lowest ERA in a season, in a career. I don’t think anyone will ever beat Cal Ripken Jr’s record of 2,632 consecutive games played. I admire anyone who works that hard over so many years to be the best at something.
We checked out the Hall of Fame and found the plaques of some of our favorite players: Bob Feller, Babe Ruth, Gaylord Perry, Cy Young. Did you know that 2013 was the only year that no one was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame? That year, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not feel anyone on the list deserved to be elected.
After four hours of enjoying the Baseball Hall of Fame, Tom and I went in search of some lunch. We found a statue of James Fenimore Cooper who lived in Cooperstown all his life. Cooperstown was named after his father, William Cooper, who founded the town. We walked down to Lake Otsego – Cooperstown is on the southern end – and found the start of the Susquehanna River coming out of it. We also found the “Back Alley Grille” where we had a nice lunch. Then we took another scenic route back to our campground.
We enjoyed our trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you have never been there, it is well worth a visit.