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Post Trip Reflection: Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame

By Jake Fernung

It is now Sunday and we are all back from Cooperstown. The trip is officially over. Wednesday through Saturday many memories were shared, and being able to visit Baseball’s Hall of Fame was nothing short of an awesome experience, completely living up to and exceeding expectations. The Hall of Fame itself was definitely a sight to see. I was amazed at all the artifacts dating back to before baseball was known as baseball. It was also fun to see more recent artifacts and to re-live moments of my childhood. Listening to librarian Jim Gates and curator Erik Strohl was so cool, as both were incredibly knowledgeable and shared inside information and individual memories.

 

The location of the Hall of Fame is very interesting, being in the middle of Cooperstown, which is essentially in the middle of nowhere. The small downtown area didn’t take long to see, but the numerous baseball shops, each one somehow unique, were fun to explore. I bought some baseball cards and a hat as souvenirs. The food was decent but overpriced (as is much of the stuff in Cooperstown), and I ate a lot of pizza and cheeseburgers. After our days were done downtown, returning to the hotel and then proceeding to watch postseason baseball as a group was also a good time. Overall, the trip was a great time with a great group of people. I learned and saw a lot, and had a ton of fun doing it. I hope to return someday to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and be able to look back and remember all the enjoyment I had on this trip.

boy with bat


Post Trip Reflection on visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame

By Tony Eley

What an amazing experience! The trip to Cooperstown as part of the Baseball and American Identity Freshman Tutorial was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my college career so far. The museum was very interesting and held a lot of fascinating artifacts and history. I enjoyed all the aspects of the museum and all the presentations while we were there. The presentation of the artifacts was one of the most interesting things we did while we were there. Being able to see the “muffin book” and Jackie Robinson`s stat sheet from his rookie year was very interesting and showed the great history behind the sport. Also, the presentation by the head curator, and how he talked about how planning out and putting together exhibits, was also very intriguing.

DoubledayField

The town itself was also beautiful and fun to explore. Going in the fall might have made it a little chillier than we would have liked, but the cold was a small price to pay for the beautiful fall scenery of the town. The town seemed to resemble a time of early America, and how majestic of a time it was. The shops were also very fun to visit and had lots of souvenirs for us to buy. I think I can also speak for everyone when saying how comfortable the hotel rooms were also. They were a nice switch up from either a dorm room or a cold dorm. All in all, the trip was fantastic, and will be something I won’t soon forget. I want to thank everyone who made this trip possible and allowing us to have such an unforgettable experience.


The Village of Cooperstown: Baseball with a View

By Kevin O’Donnell

The city of Cooperstown is a lot different than one might expect when they first hear that the Baseball Hall of Fame is there. I always expected it to be a large, lively town that had so much to do for all ages. But to my surprise, it was a small, quaint town that looked as if it were just any other town in the United States. The only thing that sets this small town apart, besides the Hall of Fame, is the abundance of baseball memorabilia shops on the main street of the town (which is indeed called Main Street). These shops lead you to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the memorabilia shops aren’t the only signature of this town; the town also has an unbelievable view.

The town itself sits up on a hill that overlooks beautiful Lake Otsego. Not only does it look over this beautiful lake, but it also is surrounded by the tree-lined hills of upstate New York. This is most prominent during the fall when you see the changing colors of each tree. This beautiful town is a tremendous place to have such an amazing spectacle for America’s greatest pastime.

O'Donnell Lake


Village of Cooperstown

By Clayton Corey ‘19

Today I and some classmates walked down the main street of Cooperstown and looked through shops and restaurants. It is a very nice town. It definitely has a small town feeling to it as you walk down the street. One lady in a store even said her dad saw us and said, “Hey look there are aroundtown1college students here this weekend!” Everybody knows everybody here in the town. It is just like how it is portrayed in movies with small towns like Radio.

As we walked from shop to shop we realized everybody in this town loves baseball. Store owners were reminiscing about the game that took place last night. We had conversations with some of them about plays from the game. They are all very friendly people and understand that we are all in awe of the memorabilia that is here to look at. All of the shops are very nice as they all have the typical baseball memorabilia such as hats, shirts, jerseys, trading cards and baseballs, but every shop is also unique in its own way. Every shop has different baseballs signed by players, signed jerseys or signed pictures. Each artifact is unique and most are very expensive.

There is also a beautiful lake right down the street from the Hall of Fame. Outside of the main street with the shops it is mostly residential housing. The main street has a weird feature that all of us are baffled by. There is a flag post in the middle of the street that is in the middle of an intersection. It is very odd but it makes for a great centerpiece for a picture of the street.


Hall of Fame Immersion Recap Day 2

By Ryan Reeder ‘19

Today was a cold and rainy day in Cooperstown, which was our second day visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame. As soon as we arrived Stephanie Hazzard, Director of Education, talked to us about how the Baseball Hall of Fame educates young students about science and other subjects by using baseball. She also mentioned to the class the internship program that the Hall of Fame offers over the summer. After this the class split up in half; some went to do archival research in the Giamatti Center and the other half went to take pictures of their exhibits or tour the town. I was part of the research group, so I went to the Giamatti Center where my player file full of Kenny Lofton articles awaited me. Kenny Lofton is my Indiana baseball player that I chose to write about for my assignment. Following this extensive research the group then went to go eat lunch. Getting back from lunch the whole class met back together for a session with Erik Strohl, Vice President of exhibitions and collection. Mr. Strohl told the class about how the exhibits in the museum were formed. He then answered a lot of questions from the class of why the museum illustrated some exhibits in a particular way. After the meeting the class went their own ways. Students had the options of either finishing their archival research, looking through the museum more, or walking around Cooperstown. I went to the museum store and to other baseball stores around town. At the stores I looked at the baseball cards and memorabilia, making me feel like a kid again. Later, we all met up again and ended our day in Cooperstown with a class dinner.


Meeting Erik Strohl

By Alex Rudicel ‘19

Our meeting with Mr. Erik Strohl, the Hall of Fame’s Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections, was very enlightening. We began by discussing the type of stuff we study in class and how we go about our discussions over such topics as PEDs or Pete Rose and many others. He then proceededErikStrohl to tell us a little about himself—how he began as an intern for the HOF, much like the many other workers we have talked to—and how his job works. Personally, I was very excited about how he detailed the new exhibit on contemporary baseball that will open in November. For the first time, the HOF is going to directly discuss such topics as Performance Enhancing Drugs and Pete Rose in detail instead of essentially ignoring or barely discussing them. The exhibit will also address the relationship of baseball and 9/11 as well as the effects of technology on the game. This exhibit is potentially controversial since it has the might upset some in baseball (like Barry Bonds who is named for being associated with PEDs although he never failed a test). I wish I could go back to the museum to see this exhibit since it will be very interesting to see how the HOF presents these topics to the public, but I know I won’t be back anytime soon! Our meeting with Mr. Strohl was very insightful and overall made for a better experience at the museum.


Researching Oscar Charleston

By Andrew Tandy ‘19

Visiting the archives today was an eye opening experience that allowed me to look into the lives of sports historians, curious fans, and students like myself. I was astonished at how much care the Hall of Fame has taken to preserve these pieces of baseball history. They went to great lengths to Charleston Oscar Plaque 14_0make sure that the artifacts weren’t damaged by controlling the temperature of the room, and asking the viewers of the artifacts to wear white gloves, as well as a standard no eating or drinking policy. I was in awe at just how extensive the archives were when I noticed a man reading the sports newspapers from the years 1947-1966. In my own research on Negro League star Oscar Charleston, who was from Indianapolis, I found the sources that were pulled for me to be very helpful and full of useful information. The player file that they have for each player provides different looks at that player and stats that give you a broader sense of who the player was. I thought the experience of archival research was a little ritualistic in a sense that the whole process was like going in to see the sacred scrolls. We were the religious patrons and the archives were held to the same level of treatment as the Ten Commandments. All in all visiting the archives was a surreal experience that brings you closer to baseball enlightenment.


Hall of Fame Plaque Room: Preserving Excellence

By Justin Woodard ‘19

The most fabled room in the Baseball Hall of Fame is the plaque room, which marks enshrinement of all the great legends of baseball history. It is the only room in Cooperstown that does its best to appear grand and all-inspiring with marble pillars, marble flooring, bronze plaques, and first classapproximately a twenty-five foot tall ceiling. The first induction class of 1936 is located on the far wall directly across from the entrance, in a way eternally watching those who enter their hallowed halls. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson are ensuring that their room stays a pure sanctuary, where those who violated the game’s rules are not allowed a plaque and the honor of calling yourself one of the greatest. In the hall you will only find players such as Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, and Jackie Robinson who succeeded through hard-work, perseverance, and natural talent alone. Joining those great players this year were Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio, who all embody the great values of hard-work, perseverance, class, and natural talent.

In addition to the plaques of the legendary baseball players there are two sculptures of Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, constructed RuthandWilliams2in 1984 and 1985. These sculptures were constructed from a single piece of laminated basswood without any other materials. The detail in these two pieces of art is extraordinary as everything is recreated in the sculptures, from wrinkles in the jersey to the pupils in the eyes of both players. I was very impressed by the amount of detail and the overall dedication to excellence that is presented in the plaque room. The plaque room was a great way to demonstrate how the positive values of hard-work and dedication are represented in the many great ballplayers throughout the game’s history.


Recapping Day 1 at the Hall of Fame

By Jared Wolfe

Our day started with a slow walk through the downtown area of the small town of Cooperstown in the crisp autumn air. After we reached the Hall of Fame we received our illusive membership materials that included neat Identification cards and 2015 Hall of Fame yearbooks. Our first experience of the day was a neat introduction at the theatre that included a cool perspective on the mythical significance of the game and what Cooperstown means to baseball. Right after, Professor McDorman took us on a quick tour of the museum, giving his insight on where things are Lakelocated in respects to our museum exhibit projects. At around eleven o’clock half of the tutorial went into the archives to do research on our Indiana Baseball essay. We made great progress as a group, working for a solid hour and half scavenging through the information the Hall of Fame library had on our players. After we walked the town at lunch and experienced more of the town of Cooperstown, we all met back at the Museum for the tour of Library with Jim Gates. Personally, I thought this was the coolest part of the day. Mr. Gates took us upstairs to the main section of the Library and presented us with some extremely neat items. They included the 1859 New York Harlem official rulebook, 1947 National League stat book featuring Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, and a Whitey Herzog spray chart for Craig Biggio. He also had an awesome story about Charlie Sheen coming to the Hall of Fame. The last part of our day consisted of a stroll to the gorgeous Lake Otsego before we ate at the Doubleday restaurant on the main strip. It was incredible experience to see the Hall of Fame and have amazing access to the archives. It is only day one and I can only imagine how awesome day two will be!


The Incredible Mr. Gates

By Nick Etter

 

The tour of the Archives and Collection Department was interesting to say the least.  Head Librarian Bill Gates was able to pull five different artifacts from the Archives to display for us.  The first of the artifacts was a small handbook, called the bylaws, from one of the original baseball clubs.  Mr. Gates informed us that each baseball club had its own set of rules, and when a game was declared, a rule committee had to decide on A Muffina set of rules.  Originating from the “baseball club” thought, he went on to explain that each club welcomed all players because each player had to pay dues to play.  As more players joined, the whole set of members would not be able to play in a single game.  This led to the development of the “Muffin” team.  The Muffins would play a second game, after the starters, to allow all paying members playing time.  The term “muffing” a ground-ball, or “muffed it” comes from baseball’s muffin team.

 

The second artifact was an original check from the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox for the transaction of Babe Ruth.  The check is one of four payments that the Yankees made to the Red Sox.  Only two of the four checks are remaining today.

 

We also were privileged to see the 1947 National League, hand-kept stat book.  The 6-inch-thick ledger held all he hand tallied statistics from every National League team in 1947.  He also told us that if any statistic had been miscalculated, every change had to be tallied up, and reassigned to the rightful stat-holder.  The example he explained was for every RBI that didn’t count for one person, in order to add it back to him, it had to be taken away from someone else.  Mr. Gates also pulled the hand drawn spray charts from Craig Biggio, 2015 Hall of Fame inductee.  Before the computer age, hand draw, color coded spray charts for each player were documented by managers after each game.