When a baseball player retires, the next best thing that can happen for them is to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum. He’ll just have to wait five years. You can’t get into the Hall of Fame until five years after your retirement. Plus, you need to have played as least 10 years as a professional. The inductees are voted on by sportswriters and various committees. For each round of voting, you need at least 75% of the ballot. Anyone who got less than 5% of the votes is forever dropped off the ballot. Cold? Perhaps but when it comes to honoring the greats of baseball, the Hall of Fame doesn’t mess around.
As every baseball fan knows, Cooperstown in upstate New York is the local for the Hall of Fame Museum. Why Cooperstown? Is it because this was the official birthplace of baseball? No. Was a major baseball record set here? No. Did the invent the bat here? No. The Hall of Fame Museum was set up in 1939 by local hotel owner Stephen Clark. He was looking for a way to boost business to the town and his hotel. Conceivably, if someone else had thought of having a baseball hall of fame museum in their town, it could have beat Cooperstown. Now that town has become synonymous with baseball. Every player dreams some day of making it to Cooperstown. Incidentally, the first five inductees were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner. That would be the same Honus who made such a big splash in baseball card collecting.
The museum attracts upwards of 300,000 visitors a year. Those visitors have a chance to look at 38,000 artifacts, 2.6 million newspaper clippings and photos and 130,000 baseball cards. On the first floor, you’ll find the Baseball at the Movies exhibit. This houses all the memorabilia from great baseball movies. In fact, it was an exhibit at the museum that inspired the making of A League of Their Own, which is now on prominent display here. Over at the Bullpen Theater, you can take in a little daily programming such as trivia games, and book signings. The Harper Gallery features rotating exhibits while the Perez-Steele Art Gallery has all kinds of baseball themed art. All of that is just on the first floor.
Up on the second floor, you can check out a great multimedia film about the sport in the Grandstand Theater, which was designed as a replica of Comiskey Park. The Game is the highlight of the second floor and tells the history of baseball through a series of artifacts displays including gloves, jerseys, balls and bats all used by the legends of the game.
On the third floor, you can spend time in The Records Room. This is where you can catch up on all the baseball records. Over at the Education Gallery, TV plays a loop of baseball bloopers plus Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s On First” routine. A must see for every baseball fan.
Naturally, there is a gift shop for your souvenir purchasing. You can’t go to Cooperstown without buying a least on T-shirt or ball cap or commemorative spoon or… well, you get the idea.