Whether you have a baseball fan in your family, or you are a baseball fan yourself, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a well-designed museum with a lot of fascinating stuff to see. If you are a rabid fan, all the better as you will feel at home surrounded by your peers!
The Baseball Hall of Fame is located in picturesque Cooperstown NY, four hours from New York City, and only six hours from Washington DC. For my family, it was a convenient stop on the way home from our vacation in Southeastern Vermont. There’s a lot to do in Cooperstown aside from the Hall of Fame; see https://www.thisiscooperstown.com/ for other museums and attractions.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a beautiful and interactive museum. The main lobby is open and welcoming, with bathrooms and a gift shop accessible before passing the ticket booth. The staff at the museum was incredibly helpful – indeed, everyone we met in Cooperstown was helpful and pleasant. We opted to purchase a family membership instead of paying by person; while I don’t think we’ll return to see the museum within the year, the gift shop discount and other included incentive items made it a good value for us. The museum offers a AAA discount on the per-person price, so be sure to bring your card.
We arrived at the Hall of Fame at 10am, bought our membership, and walked upstairs to start on the third floor. The exhibits change regularly, but here’s what we saw during our trip:
- Sacred Ground: The history of baseball fields, starting with wooden grandstands up to the ‘urban neighborhood’ parks favored today.
- Autumn Glory: Post-season play, records and artifacts
- One for the Books: Game stats, records and record holders. This one was fascinating for my rabid baseball obsessed son!
- ‘Who’s on First’: showing of the famous Abbott and Costello routine, as well as commentary by Jerry Seinfeld on why it’s still so funny.
- Cooperstown Room: history of the town and it’s relationship to baseball.
- Grandstand Theater: baseball propaganda, as if that were needed here!
- Taking the Field: creative history of baseball touching on teams, leagues, rules and equipment through the years.
- Diamond Dreams: homage to women in baseball, the history behind the movie ‘A League of Their Own’ as well as information about women in baseball management, front office and Little League.
- Viva Baseball: all about the role of Latinos in baseball history.
- Pride and Passion: a history of African Americans in baseball; from segregated leagues and integration through the current status of African Americans in management and the front office.
- Today’s Game: a ‘locker room’ style exhibit, showing artifacts and information about current teams and players.
- Hall of Fame Gallery: each HOF inductee has a plaque with their name, dates/teams they played for and the text of their induction speech. This is ‘hallowed ground’ if you are a baseball fan.
- Scribes and Mikemen: all about sports reporters and announcers, with a section dedicated to baseball movies.
- Sandlot Kids Clubhouse: for younger children. Though suggested for ages 4 through 10, our nine-years olds thought it was very much below them.
Of everything we saw, One for the Books, Who’s on First and Taking the Field were the exhibits my kids liked best. I enjoyed Sacred Ground as well; the evolution of ballparks in my lifetime, their relationship to their communities and how they came to be made for a wonderful story.
What else did we do in Cooperstown? Well, not much. We spent the bulk of a cold, rainy, summer day at the Hall of Fame, and enjoyed it immensely. The day before, we stopped by Doubleday Field, to watch a little baseball, and we shopped at some of the souvenir stores in town (there are many).
We ate well in Cooperstown, going to Doubleday Cafe for lunch the day we were at the museum. For dinners, we enjoyed an upscale experience at Alex and Ika and a more local, casual vibe at Council Rock Brewery. Both were delicious – the latter was easier with kids. If you do visit Council Rock, make sure you go to Cooperstown Penguin for dessert– homemade and custom mixed ice cream makes a phenomenal after-dinner treat!
Photos by Jill Rabach.