20 Years Later: Is This Heaven?Sunday, September 3, 2000
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
If you've ever watched the film Field of Dreams, you'll recognize the title of this blog. In the film, John Kinsella asked that question when he arrived at the baseball field in the corn. His son, Ray, informed him that it's Iowa. Had he asked that same question in a little town in upstate New York, the answer would be simple - yes.
We had another early start on Sunday. After breakfast, we demonstrated that we had the routine down by now. We piled on the bus, found our seats and headed for Cooperstown, New York. We watched a few short films along the way. Some about the Hall of Fame, some about specific players, and some about the history of baseball. That was one long and twisting road to Cooperstown.
Do you know why the Hall of Fame is located in upstate New York? Before this blog continues, let's set the record straight. Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball. That myth has been proven false. Dates don't match up with the legend. But the legend is this. Abner Doubleday supposedly invented the rules for baseball in a cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. He did, in fact, grow up near Cooperstown, but his family moved away in 1838. In 1839, he was a cadet at West Point. Eventually, he would become a Union General during the Civil War. A committee during the early 1900s wanted to prove that baseball was a truly American game. Who better to invent the all-American game but a Union General? If you travel to Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C., that's where you'll find his final resting place. On the 100th anniversary of Doubleday's so-called creation of baseball, the Hall of Fame was built and inducted its inaugural class.
When I entered the museum, I was surrounded by memorabilia from recent years. Jerseys, caps and bats from the Sosa-McGwire home run battle of 1998 (Grrr! Steroids!) Recent World Series and All-Star Game items. Memorabilia from the most recent expansion teams. There was a room filled with all-time and single season records.
As I wound through the halls, anything and everything baseball-related that I could possibly imagine was around me. Old wool jerseys from long ago. Jerseys from more recent times. Seats and turnstiles from ballparks that are long gone. There was the cornerstone from Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. Each turn was more amazing than the last. I realized quickly that one day at the Hall of Fame was not enough, but that was all I had, so I had to make the most of it and soak it all in.
Finally, I entered the hall of plaques. I walked up and down each row and gazed upon all the plaques from the inaugural class of 1936 to the current year. I spent time reading as many plaques as I possibly could.
After we left the Hall of Fame and Museum, some people wandered through the myriad baseball stores up and down the streets. I decided to swing by Doubleday Field to see a game. There is almost always a game being played at Doubleday Field. Teams will travel from across the country just to play there. Communities will have fundraisers to collect enough money to send Little League, Pony League and even adult leagues there.
My recommendation, if you have the opportunity to visit Cooperstown, plan a full weekend stay. There's simply too much to see and experience in an afternoon or one full day.
After our visit, we loaded up the bus and headed to the Red Roof Inn in Rochester, New York. On Monday, we would be traveling north of the border.
Next stop: Toronto's SkyDome (Oakland Athletics vs. Toronto Blue Jays)