From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on June 10, 2014:
Just to the left of the entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a scoreboard, a basic list of the scores from the Major League games of the day before. The symbolic point is clear: once the game is over, it is history, and it belongs to Cooperstown.
For a first-time visitor, the walk down Main Street to the Museum is impossible to perform slowly; the undertow of the building is too hard to resist. But Main Street, Cooperstown, provides a complimentary experience of baseball in America, a living museum that provokes thought and wonder of a different sort. Along with the coffee shops and drugstores is a souvenir extravaganza, from trinkets and cards costing less than a dollar to autographed rarities that could be in the Museum itself. The tradition is long: Curio sellers lined the path of the Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land, and peddlers’ shacks were a blight at Niagara Falls by the 1840s. In Cooperstown, however, the row of shops is pleasing. Thanks to the foresight of the village fathers, even stores selling plastic coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets and “authentic replicas” must hawk their dubious wares from reasonably attractive venues. A jewel like the Hall of Fame must have a proper setting.
Step inside the Museum, your heart racing, then pause to catch your breath and find your bearings. Relax — there is no wrong turn. The story of baseball may be approached from the beginning, or from the end, or from any of the thousands of entry points between. If you go straight ahead, you find yourself in the Hall of Fame Gallery, with its silent array of plaques. Do you like to save the best for last? I suggest that you go around the bases, then return here, to baseball’s real-life home plate.
- Related link: Barry M. Bloom: Cooperstown museum to celebrate birthday with weekend festivities (MLB.com)
Originally published: June 10, 2014. Last Updated: June 10, 2014.