Cooperstown is a neat little place. A rustic village full of old country homes–but once you hit Main Street, it’s all baseball, more than anywhere else I’ve seen. You’ve got baseball memorabilia shops, baseball-themed restaurants, a baseball wax museum, a historic baseball field–and of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame, easily the most impressive structure in town.
Doubleday Field is where they played the first game of baseball, according to legend. They’ve built some bleachers and a proper ball diamond in the spot that used to be a farmer’s field. A neat historic ballpark.
The man himself, Abner Doubleday, has his spot in the Hall, even though the myth of him inventing the game has long been disproved. (My camera doesn’t seem to like him, either.)
Touring the Hall takes a good five or six hours if you take the time to really look around, but don’t stop to read every plaque. It’s nice that they stamp your hand for readmission, so you can leave and come back throughout the day to get some food or whatever. I made it there by 9:30 and left at quarter to three, stopping for lunch at a place called “Hey, Getcha Hot Dog!” across the street. Although I had charged my camera’s batteries on Friday before leaving town, they died when I got to the third floor. So yeah, I took a lotta pictures. Here are a few of them.
Naturally, I started off at the wing where the new inductees have their memorabilia displayed, namely ex-Jays Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick. It was their enshrinement in the Hall last month that gave me the urge to make the trip down here while they were still featured prominently. I also attended Roberto Alomar Day at the ballpark a few weeks back. The first picture was taken on my phone at the game.
While Robbie Alomar’s the first player to go into the Hall of Fame as a Jay, there are four other players that have Toronto on their plaques. Can you name them all?
The last one is the trickiest. No, Joe Carter is not in Cooperstown. The fifth former Toronto player was actually the first to be inducted: knuckleballer Phil Niekro, who started three games for the Jays in ’87, when he was 48 years old. His numbers weren’t very good–0-2 with a 8.25 ERA and 1.83 WHIP–but they still included his stint in Toronto on his plaque.
Here are some other famous faces enshrined in the Hall:
For a second, I thought I was back in Cleveland at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, but as it turns out, ex-CCR singer John Fogerty has his own display case in the Baseball Hall of Fame, dedicated to his 1985 hit “Centerfield”. I wonder what kinda tone he gets from that baseball bat-shaped guitar. Apparently, it was actually used for live performances — I wouldn’t wanna break a string on that thing!
There was a whole wing dedicated to baseball artwork, with pieces running the gamut from Norman Rockwell to Andy Warhol. Can you tell which one’s the Warhol?
Some interesting historical baseball documents. Click the images for larger versions.
Robert Redford’s uni from The Natural.
Some baseball history…
This job posting from 1868 mentions that there’s an opening with the Treasury Department–but only if you play a mean first base. Good thing Mickey Mantle wasn’t born yet–”No Irish need apply.”
Honus Wagner was the first baseball superstar. Today, his baseball card’s worth two million bucks.
And here’s the latest addition to the Hall: Derek Jeter’s helmet, and the batting gloves he used for his 3,000th hit.
Some Jays stuff, past and present. There’s no use in debating whether Jose Bautista will be the next Jay in Cooperstown–he’s already there!
Just down the street from the Hall of Fame is the Baseball Wax Museum. It’s a lot smaller, and will take you about half an hour to visit, tops. They do have some neat stuff, though. Here’s something you won’t see at the Hall:
If there was a Hall of Fame for hamburgers, the Cooperstown Diner’s jumbo burger would be a first-ballot inductee.
Alas, I didn’t leave town without grabbing a couple souvenirs. I now have a shrine to Robbie Alomar on my dining room table.