Cooperstown, N.Y. has all of the bases covered. There is something for everybody - golf, sailing, antiquing and of course, baseball, America's national pastime. It boasts not only a museum and baseball theme park but is also the home of Glimmerglass Opera.
At the south end of Otsego Lake in Central New York, only 200 miles from Buffalo, it sits at the heart of a splendid four-season recreational area with nearby skiing, distinctive architecture, friendly villages and impressive galleries amidst a setting of exceptional beauty.
Strolling downtown, you pass the Dugout Pizzeria, Bullpen Bagels and Coffee, Doubleday
Café, Short Stop Restaurant, Mickey's Place, Third Base, (the last stop before home) and shops specializing in memorabilia such as Where It All Began Bat Company.
The Baseball Hall of Fame features a brief, introductory film. Seated in the bleachers of a typical stadium, a recording welcomes you to fields of dreams. Children play in the dusk stretching time and light until it's impossible to see anything but the pure, white ball. A mother shouts, summoning them home for supper. I regress to youth.
The exhibits are instructive. There is an X-ray of Jackie Robinson's 1947 cap, forerunner of the modern batting helmet.
When he broke the race barrier, the Dodgers fitted his cap with hard leather panels to protect against bean balls.
A copy of Norman Rockwell's "The Three Umpires", appearing on the Saturday Evening Post cover April 23, 1949, depicts the Pittsburgh Pirates leading the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0 at
Ebbets Field in the last half of the sixth inning. Rain drops on the umpires
who peer into the sky, wondering whether or not to suspend play.
Hollywood connections are depicted with films such as Warner Brothers "The Damn Yankees", which starred Gwen Verdon (Lola), Tab Hunter (Washington Senators fan, Joe Boyd) and devilish Ray Walston.
Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were inducted this year. There is enough trivia to keep TV's Jeopardy program going for decades:
· The team record for home runs in one game is held by the Toronto Blue Jays on September 14, 1987 with10 home runs, three from Ernie Whitt against the Orioles in an 18 to 3 victory.
· Henry Aaron's 714th home run ball to tie Babe Ruth is made of cowhide and before that, horsehide leather was used.
· When the Dodgers lost to the New York Giants in 1951 thanks to Bobby Thompson's famous home run in the bottom of the ninth in the third and deciding playoff game, Thompson was using an Adirondack bat made from northern white ash.
· Canadian, Larry Walker, won the Silver Bat for Colorado when he was the league's batting champ hitting 363 beating the Yankees' Bernie Williams at 339.
· Nolan Ryan pitched seven no-hitters, one against the Blue Jays May 1, 1991 at age 44.
· The 1994 Series was canceled because of labor strife.
Inside the Hall of Fame Gallery, men and children proudly wear home team caps and jerseys. An older gentleman sports an antique Brooklyn jacket.
The Hall of Fame is a must see for everyone. My wife, not particularly fond of baseball, was impressed with the shrine and its collection of memorabilia. Speaking of memorabilia, I think I have some priceless baseball cards stored somewhere in the basement, perhaps a copy of Mickey Mantle's rookie card. Field of dreams indeed!
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.
Mike Keenan: Baseball Hall of Fame exhibits: film auditorium, Catfish Hunter, plaques, Art Gallery, wooden tour boat, no hitters, baseball cards, Jackie Robinson plaque, lockers.
If you go
Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce:
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum:
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