July 4-7, 2016
This post deals with my favorite baseball team – the Los Angeles Dodgers; if you aren’t a fan, deal. 🙂
I don’t have a formal bucket list, but I have wanted to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York since I was a kid. Cooperstown is perched out in the middle of upstate New York, not near any of the big cities; rather, it is nestled in the midst of farm country. Cooperstown got its name from William Cooper, the father of major American Author James Fenimore Cooper. (I know he was a major American author because I took a class in college called “Major American Writers” and we read one of his books.) Driving through the area you can see the influence it had on Cooper’s writing – it is right out of the pages (or screen) of Last of the Mohicans (one of his Leatherstocking series).
There is at least one other literary town nearby – Mohawk – which is featured in the book of that name by Richard Russo. We also drove alongside a large portion of the Eerie Canal – I had no idea it was so long – what an engineering feat.
After a few hours drive from Niagara Falls, we arrived. Cooperstown is a lovely little town. Virtually everyone is in a good mood because they are here for the main attraction of the town.
There are two distinct sections: the Hall of Fame and the museum. The Hall of Fame proper is a gallery of plaques of players and others who have been elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). You can read the rules for election here, but suffice it to say there are many great players who have not been elected to the Hall proper. As of today 310 people have been elected: 215 Major League players, 35 Negro League players and executives, 22 managers, 10 umpires, and 28 pioneers, executives, and organizers.
Here is a view of part of the gallery.
My favorite player of all time – my childhood hero – is Sandy Koufax; so of course I made a beeline to his plaque.
One of my fondest childhood memories is listening to a game under the covers one night when Sandy threw a No Hitter. in 1965 year Sandy won the Sporting News Major League Player of the Year award along with the Cy Young Award for pitching. I love this quote from Yogi Berra, catcher for the New York Yankees who were swept in four games of the 1965 World Series.
I perused the entire gallery paying special attention to some of my favorites, including Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey (who broke the baseball color barrier by bringing Jackie Robinson to Brooklyn in 1947), Satchel Paige, Don Drysdale, Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey, Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton and Walter O’Malley (owner who brought the Dodgers from New York to Los Angeles).
After viewing the gallery, we turned our attention to the museum.
Here is a poor picture of Sandy Koufax pitching.
and here is his uniform jersey saved for posterity after an amazing win.
Also in the museum, I saw a picture of my other all time baseball hero – Vin Scully – announcer extraordinaire. I have listened to Vinnie call games since I first started following the Dodgers in 1962 – that’s 54 years! And he was broadcasting for years before that starting in Brooklyn. Vinnie received the Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Sadly, he is retiring at the end of this season – after 66 years of calling the game of summer.
If you know of Vin you know just how great he is – humble, clear, funny, informative, marvelous story teller; if you don’t know of him, I can’t begin to tell you just what a wonderful broadcaster – and person – he is. I especially love when he reminisces; I mean, how many people can talk about ice skating with Jackie Robinson. Geesh.
Perusing the museum I came across this excellent photograph – you can see the lettering on the pitched ball while the pitcher is blurred. I don’t remember the first place photo from that year but it must have been great if this won second place.
There are so many wonderful exhibits in the Hall – if you like baseball I encourage you to go.
[Note: July 26, 2016 10:30PM – Change title to correctly reflect the subject of the post]