Today’s post is another that honors two interconnected ideas – in this case, the museum in Cooperstown, New York and also the selection of players who are enshrined there. While these two are related, they are still separate entities.
It was said that Cooperstown became the site of the Hall of Fame because Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball there. But he really didn’t. And that was pretty well established by the time the museum opened. In reality, local people who knew Cooperstown needed an economic boost in the midst of the Depression conceived the idea for the Hall.
A gallery featuring the plaques of all 292 Hall of Famers is the centerpiece of the museum. That’s 203 former Major League players, 30 Negro League veterans, 26 executives or pioneers, 19 managers, and nine umpires. The museum is full of fascinating baseball artifacts, as well as a variety of exhibits. These include “Diamond Dreams: Women in Baseball,” “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience,” “The Records Room,” and many others.
The first five players selected for the Hall were in its first class (1936) were Babe Ruth (Great American Things, August 3, 2009), Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner. Until 1946, elections were held every three years, but have been conducted annually since. While the qualifying criteria have changed from time to time, a player has to have participated in at least part of 10 seasons and been retired for five years to be eligible.
In addition to biographical plaques of its inductees, the hall includes a baseball museum that has a collection of balls, bats, and other equipment, baseball cards, trophies, and photographs. Its research library contains a complete set of baseball guides, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, record books, photos, tapes, and phonograph records.
If you love baseball, making a pilgrimage to Cooperstown has to be on your bucket list. The biggest crowds come each year when new members are inducted, and a host of other HOF players appear. If you want to go this year, circle July 23-26 on your calendar…