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Hall Of Famer For A Day–The Cooperstown Experience

With Spring upon us I have a bit of Baseball fever.  Since teams are either playing down south or out west the next best thing to getting close to the game is The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. One of the luxuries of living in the Capital Region is that we are not too far from some of baseball’s most hallowed ground.  We aren’t far from Yankee Stadium, Citi Field or Fenway Park, but even closer than those is Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall Of Fame.  I took a little trip out there yesterday to explore the town, eat some food and tour the baseball museum.  It’s not the first time I have been to the HOF, and it certainly won’t be my last.  They are constantly adding new things to the exhibits and mile stone memorabilia for all to view.  It is a great way to spend a day enjoying the history of the game that we all know and love.  As a baseball junky it’s cool to explore all parts of the museum.  If it happened in baseball, it’s there.  If you are planning a trip to the HOF there a few things that you won’t want to miss while out there.  Here are my Cooperstown Can’t Pass up Opportunities:

The Plaque Gallery:

Photo by BJ Ragone

As you enter the museum you pass through the the room honoring each player, coach, owner, umpire and even broadcasters.  The plaque gallery showcases the famous bronze plaques given to those lucky enough to call themselves hall of famers. It is quite impressive to walk through and see players like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Honus Wagner, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Cy Young and so many more living forever thanks to these.  Kids can get a real taste of all the past talent by walking through here.  I have to admit that even to this day I get a little awe struck when I first set foot in here.  So many legends grace this hall with more being added every single year.

Pride and Passion:

Photo by BJ Ragone

This is a look at the Negro League history.  Many of the men who played in these are now in the Hall of Fame and regarded as some of the best to ever play the game.  It’s a look at a different time in American history when race was much to big a factor.  When Ted Williams was inducted into the Hall in 1966 he made a strong case for include negro league players in the hall because of their impact on the game.  Players like Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and more are highlighted here.  These are the guys who paved the way for Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson.  Those three players just named are held in the highest regard when it comes to baseball, and all sports for that matter.

Babe Ruth Room:

Photo by BJ Ragone

A room dedicated the one of the most, if not the most, famous player in the game.  Babe Ruth is a legendary figure and this room takes you through every single one of his accomplishments. Step in here for a bit of history.  Photos, newspapers, tons of the Babes equipment and even old news reel footage of some of his most notable moments.  It is very impressive that they can fit so much into just one room.  There is enough history surrounding the Babe that they could probably do a whole museum dedicated to him.  As a die hard Yankee fan it was one of my first stops.  If you are a Yankee fan like me you will love it, and even if you’re not a baseball fan you can’t help but be amazed.

Diamond Dreams:

Photo by BJ Ragone

Anyone who has seen A League Of Their Own knows that women have quite a history in the sport of baseball.  Back in the day there was no soft ball, so women played baseball as well.  This part of the museum showcases their contributions to the sport.  During war time was when the Women’s League really took flight.  Even during war time America wanted their baseball and with many men, including baseball players enlisting in the armed forces the women picked up the pieces and took the field.  There are currently women’s baseball leagues all around the world and this is the perfect place for little girls to come and check out who paved the way for them.

Chasing the Dream:

Photo by BJ Ragone

This is an exhibit new to Cooperstown as of 2009.  It is dedicated to Hank Aaron who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.  He held that record until Barry Bonds broke it in 2007, though some controversy surrounds that.  Aaron is one of baseballs greatest players and the exhibit is just more proof of that.  They even have the uniform he wore the night he broke Babe Ruth’s record.  I was excited to see this because it was so new.  Aaron himself was indicted into the HOF in 1982 and his number has been retired by both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers.  In 1999 the MLB debuted the Hank Aaron Award which is given to each of leagues best hitters.

Today’s Game:

Photo by Getty Images

This is a room show casing some of today’s best talent.  The coolest part is that it’s like stepping right inside of a locker room of any team in the MLB.  You get a brief history of each team in the league and you can also look at some mile stone memorabilia donated to the hall such as Derek Jeter’s batting gloves he wore when he broke Lou Gehrigs record for most hits all time as a New York Yankee.  There is even film going with some of the years best highlights.  It is easily one of my favorite rooms in the HOF and I make a point of stopping each visit since it is updated so often.

There are a couple other things outside of the HOF that are some really cool spots to visit while you are in Cooperstown.  You will most likely need to grab some food. I strongly recommend eating at The Doubleday Cafe.  It’s just a little spot down the street from the hall where you can grab a burger.  It has an awesome home town feel and the prices are very reasonable.  Souvenirs are a must have for any trip, and yes you can get your fill at the HOF gift shop, but if you walk the streets of Cooperstown you’ll find some pretty interesting stuff too.  One of the coolest places to visit is Where It All Began Bat Company.

Photo by BJ Ragone

This is a store where you can get custom made wooden bats and even replicas of your favorite players bats.  You should head inside and ask to hold the replica bat used by Babe Ruth.  That thing is a monster.

So I hope that you got the Cooperstown experience out of this and maybe are even inspired to take a trip out to some of baseballs most hallowed ground.  I always have a great time when I am there and hope to one day share that experience with my future children.  Baseball will forever be Americas past time.  I loved it as a kid and continue to love it to this day.

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