I closed my eyes and imagined …
They wore those uniforms.
They hit that ball, swung that bat.
They were the heroes of so many throughout the world.
Put your favorite baseball dream at the start of each sentence, and you’re likely to find it at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.
My dear wife Karen and I visited on President’s Day, driving the easy 90 or so miles from A Bitty Better in the Liverpool neighborhood of Galeville in less than two hours for the pleasure of turning back our memories.
The joint is easily navigated, three floors’ worth of glass-encased memorabilia and photographs.
We took it in at our own pace, turning this way and that.
Hover over a gallery photo for a description. Click on an image for an enlarged slide show.
The Babe Ruth exhibit mesmerized me for many reasons. The mannequined uniform made me think that the stories made him seem bigger than that. But the headlines and stories on the walls made me think his life was large, indeed, with trips around the world to entertain so many outside of his career with the Red Sox and Yankees. The coverage continued past his playing time, up to his death. He was a superstar by today’s definition.
The women’s league that first earned mainstream attention because of Madonna, Gena Davis and Tom Hanks in the movie A League of Their Own receives its own exhibit, with fabulous photos and memories of the real players who showed that they deserved their place on the diamond and in the spotlight.
The Negro Leagues used to be the only outlet for players of color. These squads and exceptional players had their own exhibition. I see folks wearing the team names and colors of some of these teams now. No wonder. It’s a tradition that deserves that honor.
It’s a shame that segregation kept these players from sharing the money and fame with white players in the Major Leagues until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League and Larry Doby in the American League 70 years ago.
I looked hard at the Ebbets Field stuff. I’d heard much that my Mets had taken the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers into great consideration when building the replacement for Shea Stadium. Indeed, I thought while pondering the photograph.
Of all the photographs, this painting, classic with an umpiring crew eying a rain-leaking sky, caught my eye and heart. Beautiful it is, in its simplicity of thought, complexity of execution and totality of persuasion.
Tomorrow: Exhibits from my lifetime
What is your favorite baseball memory of all time, and why? Which is your favorite photo, and why?