Cooperstown Day 2: The Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame, Part 2 (Final)

It is slowly snowing outside as I type this – of course it would wait until we are just about gone from the east coast for the fluffy white stuff to visit, but I will enjoy the sight while I can. I doubt I will be seeing it in Seattle this year.It is thankfully not so bad that we will be facing any delay in traveling back home; and I am very much looking forward to getting back home and sleeping in my own bed.

The photos in this post will not be as numerous as the ones from yesterday. They’re actually pictures from my live-Tweeting spree, but one or two didn’t make it to Twitter due to bad reception in a few areas of the Museum, and I would feel remiss if I didn’t put them here, even though they are of lower quality. The iPhone camera in low light is a fickle beast. I also wanted to explain some of them further, and my hope was that they might be a little easier to see than on TwitPic. Live-Tweeting on an iPhone is not an optimal way to carry on in a museum, a place where eyes and attention are necessary in order to A) learn, and B) avoid running into the people around you. In general, I thought I did an alright job of both of those things, though I did nearly take out a 7-year-old in the Women In Baseball section. They are being posted in the same order in which yesterday’s were, as far as our circuit through the building.

So without further adieu, here we go again!

Like I mentioned yesterday, the first room of the Museum – the one where you wait for the introductory movie – is filled with fun facts and information about the Museum itself – how it came into being, how they obtain their artifacts, and the support they’ve received over the years since opening.

The baseball timeline room started off with various woodcut prints and other types of pictorials demonstrating that stick-and-ball games have existed all throughout human history. Even back in the time of the Egyptian Dynasties, these games were played, though I don’t know that anyone knows what the specific rules were, or maybe even what they were called:

I would love to know what exactly was being depicted here. One stick, three balls, and a family of four. It might have been an early form of hockey. Based on another site I just skimmed, games like this were mainly for wealthy Egyptians, as a wooden stick would have been a commodity in the sandy desert. It wasn’t baseball, but it was certainly related, if only lightly.

An early bat and ball.

The plaque explains everything, pretty much, but it was very cool to see this item up close. It is painted in gold, which seemed to be an early form of turning things into trophies, though there was nothing explaining the color, or the writing on the ball.

This is a clock that was in the first formal front office of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. If memory serves, it was also the official timepiece by which games were started at home for the team.

If it’s one thing people in the 19th century were good at doing, it was coming up with wacky inventions. I am sure that Mr O’Neill meant well when he filed his patent for a base will a bell under it, but he failed to take into account that any pressure on the base – whether by runner or baseman – would ring the bell. In general, I’d say umpires did an alright job without this contraption, but I have to give O’Neill credit for giving it a shot.

If watches were a somewhat odd item with a lot of prevalence in the Museum, decorative plates were another. This plate encourages a fielder to catch the ball on the fly, rather than after one bounce. Up until the late 1800s, catching a ball after one bounce was still considered an out – then the rules changed, and now, of course, it’s a base hit.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but I liked that they put these three players in exhibits with each other where they could.

This is a copy of a book about the life of Babe Ruth. It was signed by Ruth just previous to his passing, like literally, as he was lying in his hospital bed. The letter in the back is a letter of authenticity, written and signed by his nurse, and also signed by a witness. Ruth reportedly said, “If I don’t do it now, I never will.”

I have always sort of written off the connection between professional baseball players and golf as a charity thing. But it looks like the connection goes back a ways. Ruth was apparently good at golf, and played quite frequently. I am sad that this photo did not come out as well as I wanted it to; the glare from the overhead lighting was just too much to get rid of.

An original Philadelphia Athletics jersey. Mmmm…comfy, sporting wool…

A very dapper and serious Cy Young.

Oh, things must have been so much easier back then. The concept of a one-page contract – for anything – completely blows my mind.

This is another one I looked at for a good long while.

This is Dorothy McGuire, catcher and outfielder for the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. I found the action and the expression on her face intriguing, because I’ve seen that posture and expression before – on every single male professional ball player today. These women were not messing around. I would have loved to have been around to watch their games.

This came out awful, but my purpose in taking it was to demonstrate the terrible uniform conditions the first women in baseball had to play in. Living in a time period where one had to maintain femininity and modesty did not make for a good baseball atmosphere. Of course eventually women were able to play in bloomers, but even those were still made of wool. It must have been like playing while wrapped in WWII army blankets. I cannot imagine.

For every two steps forward in the world of women’s sports, there surely must be a step back. After all the work done by women to gain respect and a little bit of equality in the early days of baseball, why not set it back a little by making the Phillies a little more “sexy”? Oh, baseball, you scamp!

I saw this in the case, and my immediate reaction was that part of the exhibit had either fallen apart or fallen over. But no; this is a glove (yes, glove) and baseball used by kids for street ball in the Dominican Republic. If this is what they start out with, no wonder we get so many truly amazing players from that country.

I hate to say this, because I know the man is so much more accomplished, but I just can’t even see Brett’s name in writing without immediately thinking of this. I am a terrible baseball fan.

A clipping from a newspaper of the pre-integration times.

This was an ad for the sushi at Safeco Field, from 2001. I can promise out-of-towners that the real thing is far more attractive and appetizing.

Hank Aaron’s uniform.

I love seeing stuff like this. I was born in 1971, so it is terrifically strange to me to know that there was a time where cigarettes and booze were considered not only healthy but medicinal. I’ve had my fair share of both, but always with the knowledge that it was not the best thing for me; it’s incredible that baseball players used to smoke, even while in the dugout!

I took a few phone pictures of other records…

I am not a Red Sox fan, but for whatever reason I like Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell.

This picture actually grosses me out a little, and I’m not a squeamish person usually at all.

How awesome is this?

I wanted to post this larger here so that people could see it in its stunningly impressive glory. This is a painting of Hank Aaron. A painting. You have to get about 6 inches away from the thing to figure it out, but then you can see the brush strokes. I was not far away from it when I took this picture. As you get closer to it the first thing you’ll notice is that his hair looks painted, but you have to get right up on it to see how the light was done in his eyes. When I first walked into the room, I thought it was an Annie Leibovitz photo.

And then from here, some Hall of Fame plaques:

I have no particular affinity for Rollie Fingers one way or the other, but this might be the most hilarious plaque in the entire place. The mustache forever set in bronze just kills me.

Thus concludes – for real this time – my trip to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.

Now, I need to grab some breakfast, pack all my stuff up in a manner that enables me to get on the plane without having to check more bags than I came over here with, and fly back home. We have a few hours’ worth of layover in Philadelphia again, and I will attempt to find a Phillies shirt again…and at the end of it all, I get to sleep in my own bed, which is the best end to this day that I can currently think of.

Also, I don’t intend to post over the next day or two, so this is me wishing all of you a very Happy New Year. Thank you for bearing with me during my month or so plus of silence while I waited for my new computer, and thank you for continuing to read my little spot on the internet. Stay safe, have a great New Year’s Eve, and hope you all get kisses or at least a nice pat on the head at midnight. Cheers!

 

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4 Responses to Cooperstown Day 2: The Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame, Part 2 (Final)

  1. Blaine Wright says:

    Thanks again and Happy New Year to you.

    I loved the picture of Rollie Fingers. I lived near Oakland when they won the world series with him. Wish our closer would grow a mush like that. When they lost their battle helmets they lost their mojo.

    Back then the A’s had some great nicknames. My three favorite starters were ‘Catfish’ Hunter, ‘Blue Moon’ Odom and ‘Mudcat’ Grant. I wouldn’t mind us having Bert ‘the Roadrunner’ Campanaris at short or a Reggie Jackson in the outfield, or even Salvatore Bando at third. But if internet sports reporting and blogging and twitter had been around then, well, the team plus Charley Finlet made a pretty dysfunctional group of people and they might have crashed some servers with what went on.

    • Megan Shear says:

      I think the strange facial hair might come, with more of a winning season. I do miss Putz’s soul patch action, we haven’t really had anything like that…though there IS Brendan Ryan’s mustache, which is pretty formidable, really.
      And now, remember, we’ve recovered the Brim Reaper – but you are right, shorter catchier nicks are always nice. Seems like players get more of a “title these days, than a real nickname…

  2. Bart's Evil Twin says:

    Great post! Looks like it was a lot of fun to visit, and I really appreciate your willingness to share your experiences with the rest of us.

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