Explore the World of Professional Baseball from Past to Present in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Maybe you spent your childhood collecting those old wax packs and meticulously cataloguing baseball cards. Perhaps your bucket list includes catching a game at every Major League ballpark in North America. Or you’re a guy who’s had his heart broken by a certain Philadelphia franchise one too many times, but not enough to ever turn away (I digress). Of course, you might also just be a casual fan who tunes into a game here and there. Still, there’s no escaping baseball in America.
And, lucky for us, the sport’s most hallowed institution is only a short 2 to 3.5 hour drive from just about anywhere in NEPA.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Cooperstown, a quaint, upstate N.Y. village situated at the southern tip of Ostego Lake. Cooperstown sits in a green valley surrounded by rolling mountain ranges and the lake, which serves as the point of origin of our very own Susquehanna River. The village features an idyllic downtown historic district with plenty of shops, dining options and hotels.
And, of course, for decades, the town had served as the supposed birthplace of baseball in America. The claim, long since debunked by historians, though no less entertaining, states that retired Union Army Major General and one-time Cooperstown resident, Abner Doubleday singularly invented the game in a cow pasture in 1839. That pasture today is the site of the famous Doubleday Field, a regulation ball field where baseball, in some iteration, has been continually played since 1920. The popular attraction was even once home to the lauded Hall of Fame Game which annually brought together some of baseball’s biggest stars for a one-time matchup.
Adorable lakeside village and stunning mountain landscapes aside, what brings most visitors to Cooperstown is the immensely popular National Baseball Hall of Fame. From kids just beginning their baseball journey to grandparents seeking that momentary glimpse into an almost forgotten time, “the Hall” as it’s known colloquially, never disappoints. The long-respected institution is open year-round and in its nearly 85-year history has welcomed over 17 million visitors.
Three separate, though no less intriguing, institutions make up the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Hall of fame, of course, where visitors can peruse the hundreds of rigorously selected players, managers, executives and organizers honored as the greatest examples of the beloved game. The museum is the one-stop site for all things baseball, baseball past, present and future and baseball culture in America. Finally, the Library and Research Center serves as the ultimate archive of baseball media including hundreds of thousands of pieces of original, baseball-related documents, photos and video.
A trip to the Hall is truly an experience in discovery and exploration through the lifespan of one of the greatest games ever played.
Experience the game from the dead ball to the pitch clock.
The museum at the National Baseball Hall of Fame covers three floors of exhibit space. On every level, the museum features unique baseball artifacts, works of art and literature, over a quarter million photographs and plenty of nostalgia-inducing memorabilia. Permanent galleries focus on the game’s history and impact on American culture as well as significant figures like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. There are multi-lingual, multicultural exhibits depicting the global reach of the game and the monumental impact of baseball’s ever-growing diversity. The museum also features changing exhibits for the newest elected members.
The expansive museum spills out into five connected buildings and houses hundreds of thousands of artifacts and display pieces. And it even includes a clubhouse section specifically for children’s activities. Presently, the museum easily welcomes over 3,000 visitors every day throughout the peak season.
The Library and Giamatti Research Center
Dive into the documented history of baseball.
The Library and Giamatti Research Center at the National Baseball Hall of Fame houses over three million documents ranging from books, magazines, manuscripts, memoirs and so much more. And all are accessible to the public. There are also over 250,000 photos and over 16,000 hours of film and audio.
For those true students of the game and even for the casually-obsessed fan, the Library and Research Center serves a sacred ground. While the Research Center encourages advanced appointments, all collections and artifacts are fully accessible to visitors.
The Hall of Fame
Celebrate the legends of the game.
The Hall of Fame Gallery is arguably the most visited site in all of Cooperstown. The famous bronze plaques, 342 of them, line the walls. They honor former players and managers of both Major League Baseball and the segregated era, baseball executives and even a few umpires. As far as fans go, the Plaque Gallery is about as sacred as any ground can get in Cooperstown. And for those lucky enough to be elected, it’s the culmination of a lifetime of dedication, hard work, sweat, perseverance, tragedy and triumph.
In total, the Plaque Gallery is home to only 241 former players. That’s roughly 1% of all players to ever play in a Major League or segregation league uniform.
Get up close and personal with the legend and lore of America’s pastime.
Plan your visit to Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum today. The Hall is open daily year-round with the exception of most major holidays. Find more information, purchase tickets, explore virtual exhibits and more by visiting baseballhall.org.
Featured image (top) Shoebox Treasures — Photo courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.