Cooperstown, New York is a small town that happens to be the birthplace of America’s past time. The story goes that in 1839 Abner Doubleday spent time in Cooperstown, New York where he invented the word “baseball”, designed the diamond playing field and playing positions. There is little evidence to actually back this up, and many sports historians think that this is patently false. But, regardless, in 1939 a group of baseball officials got together and built a Hall of Fame and Museum that holds many artifacts of the game and its American origins, as well as the Hall of Fame where the greatest players are inducted and immortalized with a plaque for all to see.
In the Hall of Fame portion of the facility there are many plaques, each one representing a great player, manager, owner or writer who made an important impact on the game of baseball. At the end of the hall (literally, a long wide hallway) there are two giant wooden statues, one of Babe Ruth (seen above) and one of Ted Williams. These were two of baseballs most famous players, and they wear the uniforms of two of the most storied franchises in baseball history (and rivals, too): the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (And yes, the Babe did play for the Red Sox early in his career, but we all know how that ended). The sculptures are incredible – they are completely solid wood, no cloth at all. They were sculpted by Armand LaMontagne, a famous wood sculptor known for his incredible detail.
The museum part of the Cooperstown facility is quite large and contains many artifacts from all eras of baseball, beginning back in the 1800s and right up through the current season. Players and teams are constantly asked to donate items to the Hall of Fame when an important event takes place – like a no hitter or hitting for the cycle. There are trophies, World Series rings, uniforms, gloves, bats, batting helmets and so many other items that were used by players in important games. For example, the baseball bat that Aaron Boone swung to hit his home run that ended the 2003 ALCS and the bloody sock worn by Curt Schilling in the 2004 ALCS – both of these items are on display in the museum, along with many, many others.
But the great thing about the museum is that there is art (paintings, sculpture and photographs) depicting baseball, and a section dedicated to baseball abroad. We spent a solid three hours walking around the museum and hall of fame taking photographs and enjoying the displays. I learned a lot – like the fact that the now Los Angeles Dodgers, when the franchise was in Brooklyn, were called the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. It was a fun-filled day and I will definitely be returning the next time I’m in upstate New York.