Visiting Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
If you are a fan of the game of baseball, then undoubtedly you have either been or have thought about a visit to this shrine to the great game of baseball. Located in the somewhat remote, but beautiful, upstate New York town of Cooperstown, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a must do for any fan of the game. The beautiful and stately brick building that holds the history of the game within its walls sits appropriately on Main Street. Once you enter this monument to America’s national pastime, you are transformed back in time to relive the most important and historical moments that the game has to offer.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is spread out over three spacious floors with more than 38,000 artifacts collected since it opened in 1939. The museum offers something for everyone, and we’ll talk a little about some of the exhibits. The museum recommends that visitors start on the second floor and work up to the third floor before concluding their visit on the first floor that holds the Hall of Fame Gallery. This tribute to the greats of the game contains the 289 bronze plagues of all of the inductees.
The Second Floor
The second floor of the museum contains some great exhibits. It all starts with a 13-minute multimedia presentation in the Grandstand theatre that preps visitors for the history they are about to experience. From here, visitors can leisurely stroll through Taking the Field, an exhibit that features the early days of the game in the 19th century. A timeline of the 20th century follows that explores the history of baseball by generation while detailing the players, teams, and historic moments. This area of the museum pays special tribute to some of the most important stories of baseball, including the Babe Ruth Room, the Women in Baseball exhibit, and the African-American Baseball experience. My favorite exhibit of the second floor is the Today’s Game exhibit that features a locker with artifacts from all 30 major league teams in addition to some items from the most recent season. Items include uniforms, hats, gloves, photos, and much more. And with every team having a locker, no one leaves this room disappointed.
The Third Floor
The third floor of the museum starts visitors off with a look at the ball fields of the past and present. This leads visitors to the Hank Aaron-Chasing the Dream exhibit that pays tribute to Aaron, while detailing his life from childhood through his baseball career right up to his present-day activities. Next up, appropriately, is the Records Room that shows visitors the all-time leaders in virtually every statistical category. If you’re a numbers person, then this is the room for you. While here, make note of the very small and unassuming display to Barry Bonds and his home run record. I particularly enjoyed the record-setting home run ball with the asterisk on it; make sure you look for it.
Also on the third floor is the Autumn Glory Room that highlights the great teams and moments of the postseason. Next up is the Baseball Card room that displays just a sampling of the museums 135,000 baseball cards. And just when you thought you were done, visitors are presented with a display showcasing every World Series ring. For you long-suffering Red Sox fans, this should be quite a treat.
The First Floor
The first floor of the museum contains a number of exhibits including an interesting art exhibit, a baseball at the movies room, and Inductee Row which celebrates the newest class of Hall of Famers. But the highlight of the day belongs to the Hall of Fame Gallery, where each inductee has his bronze plague displayed. Enjoy the experience of searching out the plagues of your favorite players. The walls of the Hall of Fame Gallery are a who’s who of baseball and a fitting tribute to the athletes who have helped create our love affair with the game.
If you haven’t been to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum hopefully you are now inspired to make the journey. I am fortunate to live in New England and have made the 3 1/2 hour drive on two occasions with the most recent visit having been in December of 2011. It’s not easy to get to Cooperstown, but for those of you who have a visit to this Mecca of Baseball on your bucket list I can assure you that you will not be disappointed
Tips for Visiting
- Visit in the offseason. This may not be possible for everyone, especially if visiting with kids. If you must go in the summer, shoot for a weekday. Our last visit was on a Saturday in early December, and we had the whole place to ourselves.
- Follow the advice of the museum and save the Hall of Fame Gallery for the end of your visit. It’s a fitting way to conclude your visit to the Hall of Fame.
- If you are a member of AAA, flash that card and save 10% on the entry fee. If you’re spending the day, take a break and have lunch at one of the area’s cafes, everything is within walking distance in Cooperstown. Be sure to get your hand stamped if you leave so that you can return.
- Bring that camera and make sure you have plenty of memory. My first visit to Cooperstown was in the pre-digital camera era, and upon returning home, I discovered that I had no film in the camera. Uggh. It's the only time I have ever done that! I didn’t make that mistake this time, of course, it’s much easier nowadays with digital cameras
Official Website of the Baseball Hall of Fame
© 2012 Bill De Giulio