Visiting the Hall of Fame
I need to start this entry by showing you a screen shot of a tweet:
That tweet, as you may have noticed, was posted more than five months ago. Life was pretty busy at the time. I never got around to blogging about the Hall of Fame, so I’m doing it now.
Quick context: I’d only been to the Hall one other time, and I was too young to appreciate it. I always wanted to go back, so when the Korean filmmaker said he wanted to get some footage of me there, I rounded up some friends and made a mini-roadtrip of it. Here we are outside:
In the photo above, from left to right, you’re looking at Bassey, Jona, me, Leslie, and Mike.
Here’s a photo that I took just inside the entrance:
This is the ramp that leads to the gallery . . .
. . . and here’s the main area with all the plaques:
Two things happened wherever I went:
1) I photographed everything.
2) The filmmaker filmed me.
Check it out:
The filmmaker’s name is James Lee. The first time he’d filmed me, he had a big fancy camera. Now, evidently, he was traveling light, and I didn’t know what to make of it. Was his little rinky-dink camera going to get good footage? What about the sound? Would he even follow through and complete the documentary? Would it turn out to be any good? I had no idea what to think, but whatever. If nothing else, I was having a fun day with my friends at the Hall of Fame; if some random Korean dude wanted to follow me around and get footage, so be it.
There was one plaque that jumped out at me when I first saw it: Henry Chadwick:
Chadwick, a mid-19th-century writer, might not be a household name, but he’s one of the most important baseball men of all time. You know how strikeouts are designated by the letter K? That was his idea. He also invented the box score and played a role in the very first juiced-ball controversy; way back in 1862, he denounced the ball as being “overelastic.” When I started doing all my research for The Baseball, I kept seeing his name and reading about all the cool things he did. Way back in the day, for example, when ONE ball had to last the entire game, the players actually had to stop playing and go looking for it indefinitely if it went missing. In 1876 (the first year of the National League), Chadwick suggested a five-minute time limit, and two years later the rule took effect. So yeah, I officially love Henry Chadwick.
Here are two other guys whose plaques caught my eye:
(Whenever I see Cal Ripken Jr.’s name, I think of this.)
There was SO much to see at the Hall of Fame. This was one room that we passed through on our way to the bookstore:
I was hoping to see my books at the store — that certainly would’ve been a good shot for the documentary — but all the copies had sold out. At least that’s what the lady there told me. You can see her on the right in the following photo:
I was bummed at first, thinking that my potential moment of glory had slipped away, but then I saw this:
. . . and here’s a look at the back:
OH YEAH, BABY!!!
Given the fact that my name is on the book, and given the fact that the book is in the Hall of Fame, I could argue (in a pathetically juvenile way) that I’ve made it to the Hall of Fame. That was always my dream as a kid; perhaps, when blowing out all those birthday candles, I should have been more specific.
My friends and I passed through the gallery . . .
. . . and saw this:
I love how the usher is reaching for the ball from the cross-aisle. Or maybe that’s a doorman who showed up at the game in uniform? Regardless, it’s an outstanding scene. As baseball fans, reaching for souvenirs is part of our DNA. (Steve Bartman is vindicated!)
Did I mention that there was lots to see? (This blog entry doesn’t even cover one-tenth of it.) Here’s a striking display of the old Yankee Stadium:
(I really really really REALLY miss that place.)
Here’s a collection of early baseballs . . .
. . . and here’s one of my favorite displays in the entire museum — something that I remembered from 20-something years earlier:
The colored rectangle of baseballs represents Ted Williams’ strike zone. The number on each ball indicates what Williams’ batting average was when he swung at a pitch in that location. So you see? Pitching to him was easy. All you had to do was keep the ball down and away, and he was a .230 hitter.
Not surprisingly, there’s an entire room devoted to Babe Ruth. Here I am absorbing as much of it as possible:
From that point on, I did a lousy job of documenting things. I got a photo of a Latino player display . . .
. . . but beyond that, I pretty much had to hurry around and look at stuff quickly.
Back outside, I took a picture of the Hall of Fame from across the street . . .
. . . and then took a picture of the street itself:
Cooperstown is a cute little place — and the pizza was better than I expected:
(I had the spaghetti and meatballs, but got to sample all the goods.)
In conclusion . . .
Just kidding. I don’t have anything profound to say — just that the Hall of Fame is rad, and I’ll post some screen shots from the documentary in my next entry.