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National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

September 13, 2021

  • 25 Main Street
  • Cooperstown, NY 13326
  • (888) 425-533
  • Website

Man..the places work takes me.  

A colleague and I were in Upstate New York for three very quick, very busy days recently.  We made the 10+ hour drive one day, worked a 15 hour day the next, then headed the 10+ hours back to Michigan.  It was a whirlwind trip but we did get to do one thing I’ve had on my bucket list forever (well…two, but we’ll get to that in another blog post.)

We knew we weren’t going to have a lot of time on the day we actually had to work so once we got to Utica where our hotel was, we took the hour trip south to Cooperstown.  Every kid growing up dreams of getting in to Cooperstown one day and since my playing days are long over, at least seeing the Baseball Hall of Fame has been something I’ve wanted to do.  

The trip to Cooperstown is wild.  Our hotel is in  Utica and from there, it’s all two lane roads and not a single one of them is straight.  It’s only about 35 miles but because you’re constantly slowing down for curves, hills, etc., it takes almost an hour.  The drive there in the daylight was scary enough but the drive back in the dark was kind of terrifying.  There are no street lights anywhere..including at intersections so it’s really hard to see where you’re going.  

Cooperstown itself is  hard to describe.  It’s a village of less than 2,000 people.  It would be like dropping the Hall of Fame in Dowagiac here in Southwest Michigan. 

We got to Cooperstown around 4:30 and looked for a place to park.  There are no lots near the museum that we could find..just street parking.  There are some shuttle lots on the edge of town but it wasn’t super busy on the day we were there so we found a parking spot a few blocks from the museum.  

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum sits on Main Street in downtown Cooperstown right at the intersection with Fair Street.  The building is kind of out of place in this small downtown.  The three stories and half a block foot print are much bigger than anything else on the street.  

The easy questions when you get to town is why Cooperstown? Why was the Baseball Hall of Fame built there?

Well, the quick answer is Abner Doubleday…although his involvement in the creation of baseball has largely been disproven, but that myth is why the Baseball Hall was established in Cooperstown. The heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, Stephen Carlton Clark, established the Hall during the Depression as a way to get tourists back to the Cooperstown area.

When you enter the building, there’s a large staging area. On busy dies, there is a que to get in to the building. We were late enough in the day and there wasn’t a lot of people there so we were waved through the ropes to the entrance.

Tickets are $25 for anyone 13 and over. They can be reserved online or purchased at the ticket counter.

The Museum is three stories and it’s not quite as big as I expected it to be. The suggested route is to start on the second floor, then the third, then back to the first. We headed up the stairs and started going through the second floor.

There is so much to see that a person really needs all day. We only had a little over an hour so our trip through each floor was very quick.

The second floor has exhibits for women in baseball (there were items from both the Grand Rapids Chicks and Kalamazoo Lassies), Latin Americans, in Baseball, African-Americans in baseball, a timeline of the history of baseball and a pretty large area dedicated to Babe Ruth and his contributions to the game.

The third floor has the Hank Aaron gallery and then focuses more on today’s game. Near the end of the walk through, you come to a big room with lockers on either side. This are highlights “Your Team Today.”

This is also the area where the new inductees memorabilia cases are. The class of 2020 (there was no class of 2021 due to no one being voted in) includes Kalamazoo’s Derek Jeter. There’s a case of jersey’s, rings, gloves, and other memorabilia of Jeter’s career.

Notice something? There’s a definite Kalamazoo connection at the Baseball Hall of Fame right now. That’s Jeter’s Kalamazoo Central baseball hat.

Now it’s back to the first floor. What most people think of when they think of the National Baseball Hall of Fame is the plaque gallery. Every player, coach, etc. who has been inducted in to the Hall has a plaque.

It’s another one of those interesting things….the plaques really aren’t as big as I expected them to be. We didn’t have a ton of time but I made sure to find the White Sox. My favorite player growing up, Jim Thome, was right next to another White Sox favorite, Harold Baines.

And of course, there’s Derek Jeter’s plaque in the class of 2020.

We didn’t realize this but there’s actually more on the first floor. If you go behind the plaque gallery, there are displays for writers and broadcasters plus there’s an exhibit devoted to baseball in movies.

I couldn’t get out of the Museum without picking up some souvenirs for my kids. I kept it simple with some plush baseballs, water bottles, and a magnet for our fridge. Prices were pretty reasonable. I got two of each of the water bottles and plush baseballs plus one magnet for about $25.

I needed more time. There’s so much more I didn’t get to see or read or look at. I really need to go back by myself just so I can take my time. There are so many cool things for baseball fans….I just….I just really need more time.

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