Cooperstown, NY

For a richer experience, play the sound file while reviewing this post about America’s past-time:


I’ve wanted to attend the National Baseball Hall of Fame for as long as I’ve been a baseball fan,

entrance_full

which for me culminated in 1960, when my hometown team, the improbable Pittsburgh Pirates contended for their first National League pennant in 33 years, and went on to play in the World Series against the much-favored New York Yankees.

Pirates on deck circle (2)

The series was notable for a number of reasons. The Yankees, who had won 10 pennants in the past 12 years, outscored the Pirates 55–27, outhit them 91–60, outbatted them .338 to .256, hit 10 home runs to Pittsburgh’s four (three of which came in Game 7), and were twice shutout in complete games by Whitey Ford. And they lost.

The series was decided in the seventh game with a dramatic walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski–a feat that never happened before in baseball’s history, and today, ranks eighth on Sports Illustrated list of the 100 Greatest Moments in Sports History.

Beyond that, I couldn’t imagine there being a boy playing Little League baseball who didn’t step up to the plate pretending to be “Maz” and winning it all with one swing of the bat.

Baseball was more than a national past-time to me; it was part of my life–whether it was practicing, playing the game, or collecting and trading baseball cards with friends…

cards

although I was never a serious collector who was fortunate enough to possess a part of the Holy Trinity.

 

The Baseball Hall of Fame is synonymous with Cooperstown. Every year, during the mid-season break, the induction ceremony celebrates the best players who have ever taken the field,

HOF Members

to play a game that began in Hoboken, NJ on June 19, 1846 at Elysian Fields.

Elysian Fields, Hoboken

The village of Cooperstown is a buccolic hamlet on the southern tip of Otsego Lake in upstate New York.

Lake Otsego

The town, once known as the birthplace of famed author, James Fenimore Cooper,

James Fenimore Cooper

is now a town devoted to sports memorabilia on every street corner,

Yastzremski Sports

Mickey and Joe

Cooperstown Bats

7th Inning stretch

and catering to fans looking to own a small piece of folk history.

baseballs for sale

There’s also a legendary ballpark that each year hosts hundreds of Little League games,

Doubleday Field (2)

and the Hall of Fame Classic, featuring the best of the game.

Doubleday Field

Baseball is about the pioneers,

Gallery entrance

the ballfields,

Ebbets Field

the fans,

super fans

the mascots,

 

and the records…

Lou Gehrig

Hank Aaron

But mostly, it’s about the players.

Babe and Ted

Satchel Paige

Cooperstown is a shrine for all my boyhood heroes…

 

 

 

and my fond memories of baseball–at the ballpark, where I felt lucky to attend an occasional game at Forbes Field with my dad; on the transistor radio, pretending to sleep, but listening in the dark with an earpiece to Bob Prince calling the game; and in newspapers, where I eagerly checked the box score the following day.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is a hit with 250,000 fans visiting every year, and a museum worth catching if stricken with baseball fever.

catching behind home plate