Monday, October 21, 2002

Cooperstown

It's about a five hour drive from Providence, RI to Cooperstown, NY. This time of year, when the leaves are starting to turn, it's not an unpleasant trip across across the Pioneer Valley, through the Berkshires, past Albany into central NY, then down the western shore of Lake Ostego to baseball's holiest shrine: the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It's one of those things I've wanted to do since I was about 10 years old, but just never made time for. A few months back my girlfriend (how cool is this?!) my girlfriend says, "have you ever been the Hall of Fame? No?!? Well, let's go!!" She's not really into baseball, so I don't think I would've ever thought of asking her, but when she grokked how much I love baseball she took it on herself to make sure I went.

I didn't really know what to expect of the place. I knew the museum had exhibits and a hall of plaques and that Cooperstown would be small, but that was pretty much it. For some reason, I half expected to see Hall of Famers, and guys hoping to get in, walking the streets. You know, Jim Rice getting a chili dog at the Doubleday Diner, Pete Rose working the counter at his memorabilia shop, maybe a red-eyed Ozzie Smith on the tale end of a celebratory bender threatening to do his patented back flip next to the bobbleheads in the Hall of Fame gift shop. No such luck. What is there is, for a baseball fan, pretty awe-inspiring. Recent items, like the bats Mike Cameron and Shawn Green swung when they hit four homers each in games this past year. The jersey Nomar wore during his 30 game hit streak in 1997. Gear, bats, and balls from McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. There's a room devoted to the 500 club full of bats and gear worn by Aaron, Williams, McGwire, Foxx, Ott, et al. There was a ball signed by the 1918 World Champion Red Sox. There was a baseball card display. Man, was that tough to swallow. Cards I used to own on display in the Hall of Fame. (Sadly, most of those photos didn't turn out.)

You can read all about what's at the Hall, if it's your bag, at the website. You can even see the plaques, but it's nothing like being in that room, wandering from alcove to alcove, finding the ones you wanted to see, and touch, like Teddy's, Yaz's, Pudge's, and stumbling across others, like Nolan Ryan's, of guys that didn't play for the Red Sox, but were still pretty good players anyways, and watching other guys look for, and find the Yaz plaque you were just at, have their picture taken with it, then tell their son about how they used to idolize him as a kid. I can't wait until my nephew gets into the little league years so I can take him out there.

If I haven't bored you to tears yet, you can check out some of the photos we took here.

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