Baseball Hall of Fame: Cooperstown, NY (Part 2)

            I arrived in Cooperstown about 4 p.m., understanding from all their publicity that the Hall of Fame closed at 5 p.m.  I anticipated a quick hour-long tour on my first afternoon, then Imagegoing back the next day for as long as I desired.  But it was early June, and the Hall of Fame had just begun their summer hours and were open until 9 p.m.  Since I am a dues-paying member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, I got in free, and began my visit.


            First stop was the Hall of Fame itself, the sanctuary where the plaques honoring those who are elected are displayed. One misunderstanding that was settled for me on my first trip to Cooperstown revolved around this question:  “How do they keep from mentioning noteworthy players who have not been enshrined in the Hall?”  Pete Rose, for example, has more hits than anyone else in the history of baseball.  How do they ignore someone like that?  The answer is that Pete Rose’s name and achievements are throughout the museum section of the Hall of Fame building.  He simply does not have a plaque or a place of honor in the primary Gallery or Shrine.  Same with South Carolina’s Shoeless Joe Jackson:  No plaque on the wall.


            On my two trips to Cooperstown, I enjoyed looking for the plaques of my favorite players when I was a kid:  Harmon Killebrew, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, and others from that era.  I collected their baseball cards in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, great days in America’s national pastime, and in my young innocent life.


            The museum’s displays change with some frequency, so there is always something new to see, including, this year, exhibitions about Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and even Shoeless Joe Jackson. 


            Being a serious fan of Greg Maddux, I was happy to see how often his name and his artifacts had already found their way into the museum’s displays.  I expect him to be elected and enshrined into the Hall of Fame this year, but he is already in the museum in a variety of places.


            You can spend a lot of money in the Hall of Fame’s store, and even more money up and down the streets of Cooperstown where purveyors of baseball memorabilia are glad to sell you mint condition baseball cards of Mickey Mantle or real bats used in real Major League games by real Major League players. 


            Spending lots of money on memorabilia is not my thing, but memorable experiences are, and I had an idea.        Having decided not to stay at the Otesaga Resort did not prevent me from enjoying their amenities.  Years ago, I learned that you can eat a meal at a World Class Hotel for a fraction of the cost of a room, so I pulled into the parking lot of the Otesaga as if I were Yogi Berra or Greg Maddux and found my way to the Hawkeye Bar and Grill.  Hawkeye is the main character in The Deerslayer and The Last of the Mohicans.   Reservations were required but I was early enough to be seated on the terrace overlooking The Glimmerglass.  I asked the waitress what looked good in the kitchen.  As a result, I ordered French Onion Soup and fried Calamari, two appetizers.  Enjoyed the ambiance for an hour for about $20 plus tip.


I loved my time in Cooperstown, but I missed my wife, and I had been gone for two weeks, and I was still 14-15 hours from home.  So, I hit the road.  Stayed at a random motel somewhere in Pennsylvania and drove down the Shenandoah Valley to arrive home the next evening.


Categories: Baseball, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Baseball Hall of Fame: Cooperstown, NY (Part 2)

  1. Tony Hopkins

    What a great day, Marion! I wish I were with you, but your blog is the next best thing. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Tony, You would have loved it. I would have loved to have you there. I would love to go to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony next year when Greg Maddux goes in. But it is a long trip!

  2. Jim Catoe

    Great writing about Cooperstown. I grew up a Nellie Fox fan. He was a “fire plug” type player that hit for average with only a few home runs in his career with Chicago. He and short stop Luis Aparicio were the best double play combo in the majors in the late fifties.

    I was relieved to see that he was finally granted admission to the hall after multiple passes.

    • Those were the days, Jim,, when my baseball fandom peaked. Then I lapsed for a few years. I have returned to the fold. A trip to Cooperstown is a pilgrimage every baseball fan needs to make.

  3. By the way, my favorite Harmon Killebrew quotation is attributed to his dad. His mom once complained that their boys were ruing the lawn with all their baseball playing. The dad responded, “We not supposed to be raising grass. We’re raising boys. Let them play.” Something like that. I like it.

  4. Gail

    Marion, I don’t even like (or understand) baseball, and I loved your description of Cooperstown and the museum.

  5. Anne L. Matthews

    Marion, I went to the Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. Just loved it. Was at a Rotary District Conference as the RI President’s Rep. Will never forget sitting at the table with a couple of famous football players at the banquet. So being exposed to both the Cleveland Browns football players and visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame made that a very special trip.

    Anne Matthews

  6. Clyde

    Good story! I saw Johnny Bench play Triple-A baseball a few times in Hampton, VA when he played for the Peninsula Grays. After he went to Cincinnati some friends of mine went up there to see him play for the “Big Red Machine.” They were seated behind the Reds dugout and yelled to a bat boy to tell Johnny Bench to step out so they could say hello to him. The boy went in the dugout and then returned and shook his head, “no.” They said go back and tell him we’re from Hampton, VA. The boy went back and immediately Bench came out waving his arms. They got to talk to him and get a picture. I’ve never been to Cooperstown but I did visit the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. It was quite impressive!

    • I love these stories. Interesting how easy my other blog posts have been to ignore, but there is something about baseball that gets in our blood.

  7. Thanks for the piece Marion. I’ve visited the HOF twice and both times it was kind of like going to church! I’m now following your blog and I invte you to follow mine too:

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