Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Believe in the Church of Baseball

Hating the New York Yankees is as American as apple pie, unwed mothers and cheating on your income tax. ~Mike Royko, 1981

Being in Yankee territory sure doesn't mean you have to cheer for the Yankees! Brett dug out his throwback blue Ozzie Smith jersey and we loaded up for a weekend at Cooperstown to pay our respects at The National Baseball Hall of Fame. We decided that it's a pilgrimage that only the truest of fans take! We drove the winding back roads for miles (ok, about 1.5 hours from Albany) until we came upon the Holy Grail of the greatest sport known to mankind. After eight hours, we were able to scratch one more thing off the Bucket List!

While the BHOF may be the focus point of Cooperstown, the town itself is amazing! The community of 2,000 sits on the banks of the Otsego Lake. The downtown commercial district remains largely in tact and unchanged from the early 1900's. Most of the shops cater to summer tourists and nearly all are cashing in on the baseball fever. Civil War combat general Abner Doubleday is credited in popular legend as the inventor of baseball, but it's a title that has little evidence to support the claim. Nonetheless, we had no problems taking in a game at Doubleday Field and scarfing down 'Doubleday Burgers' at the Cooperstown Diner. The way we figure...who cares who invented it? We're just glad it happened!

The museum itself is every fan's "Field of Dreams" and has more than 35,000 three-dimensional artifacts representing the game! Bats, balls, uniforms, equipment, awards, tickets and thousands of pieces of memorabilia tell the story of the game, the players and the fans. With more than 130,000 baseball cards and 2.6 million Library items, there was plenty to gawk at! And Brett Garrett had to read it all...word for word. Do you have any idea just how long that takes??
We saw amazing pieces of history. From the first ball ever used in a game that charged admission, to the hate mail Jackie Robinson was sent during his career. The uniforms of the All American Girls Baseball league were on display and the history of the Negro League was bundled in a huge exhibit. Babe Ruth's first baseball card sat behind inches of glass. (Can you imagine what that's worth??) Home plate from Ebbett's Field was on display (and Heather always thought that was the bar across from her grad school apartment in Springfield). Aneheim's Rally Monkey was encased next to that damn bloody sock Curt Schilling was wearing when the Red Sox beat the Cards...too bad his foot didn't fall off.

Thankfully, there was plenty of Cardinal memorabilia! Brett paid his respects to Ozzie's Golden Glove, Dizzy Dean's uniform, Stan Musial's locker and of course, Albert's jersey. And as luck would have it, we visited during "Yankee's Week," meaning that we got to relish in the Yankee's World Series trophy on display. FYI: It was not as pretty as the Cardinal's '06 trophy we saw in Memphis in 2007.

The actual Hall of Fame was almost sobering. Many of the greatest athletes to play the sport are immortalized there and to think of those who have stood in that hall just gives you chills!

Brett with the First Class.

Heather & the Yankee trophy. Brett refused to have his picture made with it.

All of the World Series Rings!

Brett with the Phillie Phanatic.

Home Run balls Hank Aaron hit, breaking Babe Ruth's Record.

Wonder if we could donate 10,000 baseball cards?

Baseball thrown in No-Hitters.

The All American Girls Professional Baseball League uniforms.

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