Monday, July 9, 2012

2,643 Miles - The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

We left York Beach, Maine, early on Monday morning sad to leave the beach and Alma and Jack, but we were looking forward to an adventure that included the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  Dan has been a baseball fan all his life and even had a baseball club at the school where he taught for 38 years.  The man LOVES baseball.  When we started planning our trip to the northeast, I asked him if he would like to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He looked at me with incredulity and asked if I was kidding.  I told him no, I wasn't kidding because I thought he would like to see it.  His answer was a resounding YES!

Then, I asked him about Gettysburg.  I think he thought I had flipped my lid.  He taught American history for 38 years and had always been a bit of a Civil War buff.  You know, if you ask a question you get a history lesson kind of buff, but that's okay.  I always learned something new and interesting.  As for Gettysburg, he was all for it.  So that was our destination after the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now let me make this point perfectly clear - The Hall of Fame and Gettysburg are both in the middle of NOWHERE and are a good day's drive from each other.  Holy cow, the drive was interminable from Maine to Cooperstown.  Thankfully, the countryside was beautiful in Massachusetts and New York.  The Berskshire's are gorgeous for the first few hours.  The heavily forested mountains and lush, verdant farm valley's are stunning.  But it's one L O N G drive a lot of which is on two lane roads with speed limits that are 55 and under.

Just outside of Albany, New York, we were engulfed in a summer thunderstorm - the kind where it rains so hard you can't see the road and have to pull over.  It even hailed on us.  If you look closely in the picture, you can see the hail on the side of the road and in the windshield wiper trough.  Yikes.  I was sure glad when that was over.
Once it stopped, we hit the trail again.  Driving and driving and driving some more.  There are only small towns here and there before you get to Cooperstown and lots and lots of driving.  Did I say we drove a lot?  We did.  I can't imagine baseball players having to drive/ride all that way to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  I mean I know it's worth it, but good grief.  But, we now have something in common with them.  We have made the endless journey.

As we headed into Cooperstown, we drove alongside beautiful Lake Oswego which is a long lake to the north of the town.  The temperature had dropped to  63 degrees after the storm and I had to put on a light sweater as the wind was blowing, but people were water skiing on the lake.  It probably seemed warm to them since they have rather harsh winters there.  We were't really sure exactly where the Hall of Fame was in the town but it's small, so we drove through a few streets and Ta Dah!  There it was, right in front of us.  There were people everywhere.  We actually got the first parking place in front of the building.  Guess this visit was meant to be.
As we got out of the car, we both stood for a moment and looked at the sign above the doors.  I am sorry the picture did not turn out better, but it is a bit awe inspiring to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum right before your eyes.  We were actually here.  Dan was almost speechless.

We passed through the hallowed doors and paid our entrance fee and started our tour.  There are three floors, theaters, the Hall of Fame where all the plaques for the inductees are, and rooms and rooms where uniforms, paraphernalia, equipment and pictures are housed.  It is a bit overwhelming actually there is so much to see and there were people everywhere.  Kids used their phones, videotaping every room walking fast with their phone held out in front of them.   My thought was you are here and you are not even looking at anything.  Oh well, guess that shows my age.  It was difficult to get good pictures because of all the people, but look we did!

First, we looked at the plaques of all the members of the Hall of Fame.  We found Dan's all time favorite player and childhood idol, Mickey Mantle.  I took a picture of him standing with "The Mick's" plaque for a keepsake.  Here is his plaque.
And of course, The Babe.  George Herman Ruth.  The King of Crash, The Sultan of Swat.
I loved this statue of "Satchel" Paige in the courtyard.  I took this through the window.  He was quite a pioneer in major league baseball.
Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) was an American baseball player whose pitching in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball made him a legend in his own lifetime. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, the first player to be inducted from the Negro leagues.  Wikipedia

There was so much to see and take in, we could have been there for days.  This is Babe Ruth's uniform, hat and shoes in an actual locker from Yankee stadium.  
Actually, The Babe has an entire room dedicated to him and his baseball career.  It is quite impressive.

I loved this sign that hung over the area dedicated to baseball writers and broadcasters.  
There was even a display of all the things they used for sound effects on the radio to make you think you were right there in the midst of the game.  Awesome.  

There is a room dedicated to the women's league in baseball and at the entrance to the room is this  poster from A League of Their Own which was filmed in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana, at Bosse Field where I have attended many minor league baseball games throughout my life.  Sure made us proud.  

Check this out - the bat Willie Mays used to get his 3,000th hit.  He had a career total of 3,281 hits and 660 home runs.  Now that is quite an accomplishment.

Dan has also been a lifelong New York Yankees fan, so I snapped this picture of the display of their equipment.  If you can see the huge shoes on the bottom right, they belonged to Derek Jeter.  Yeah.  All of these things belonged to real Yankees players and there is a display for every major league team.  

There was just so much to take it, there is no way to describe it all or photograph it all.  Dan said it really didn't hit him until later that he was actually looking at Joe DiMaggio's uniform, or Johnny's Bench's uniform.  He was a happy happy man.  It may have been a long car trip, but worth every minute just to see the joy he experienced.  

If you are a baseball fan, it is worth the trip and I hope you get there some day.  Tomorrow we head to Gettysburg which was one of the most emotional things I have ever experienced.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.
Babe Ruth