Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cooperstown – The National Baseball Hall of Fame

Continuing with our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip…

Well baseball fans, here it is!   The reason that most visitors go to Cooperstown New York... The center of the baseball universe… The tabernacle of swat… The temple to the ‘gods’ of the game…The National Baseball Hall of Fame!

The front entrance and the overall facilities of The Baseball Hall of Fame are quite impressive.  Despite the rainy weather and of course, most family vacations were over for 2011, the Hall of Fame was busy, if not overflowing, with true aficionados of the game.  Now, while Laurie and I can’t be counted as true baseball fans…we do like to watch a good game and we always watch the season ending playoffs plus the World Series…we couldn’t visit Cooperstown without making a pilgrimage to the town’s most famous attraction…

We definitely are not Yankees’ fans…but this cow reminded us of the summer that Mayor Daley had decorated and painted full sized cow sculptures all around downtown Chicago.  Plus…the glasses reminded us of Harry Carey!

This is Laurie’s all time favorite Chicago Cubs baseball player!  There is no doubt that she’d leave home for Ryno… We would both like to see him return to the organization as Manager for the Cubs.  He did a great job for the organization at the minor league level in Kodak Tennessee with the Smokies.  One of our goals is to live long enough to see the Cubs win the World Series!

Ryno was named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1984, he was voted onto the League's All-Star team for 10 consecutive years and he also earned a Gold Glove award for 10 consecutive years.  His .989 fielding percentage at 2nd base stands as a major league record. 

Unfortunately, Ryne left the Cubs organization in 2010.  However, as the Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies top minor league affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in 2011 he took them to the championship of the International League and he was named the Minor League Manager of the Year. 

Next to the Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals is our favorite team.   Laurie’s entire family, especially her sister Karole and Karole's son, Marc, are passionate Cardinals fans! 

Note: In addition to the plaques, awards, trophies, player’s equipment and uniforms, there is a room in the Hall of Fame devoted to baseball related art work, especially paintings.  The painting shown above shows Stan ‘the man’ Musial signing autographs for some young fans.

Then there was Bob Gibson, another great Cardinals’ star player!  He had an “OK” career...  In 17 years with the Cardinals, he was elected to the National League’s All-Star Team 9 times; he had a career ERA of 2.91…and in 1968, he set an NLB Major League record with an ERA of 1.12; he pitched a no hitter; he won 9 Gold Glove Awards; he recorded 17 strike outs in a World Series game; he had 3,117 career strike outs; he won 2 Cy Young awards; he was his team’s most valuable player, (MVP), in two World Series, and; he was the National League’s MVP in 1968!  Not too bad… Bob Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility and it happened on the first ballot!

This is Stan Musial’s locker at the Hall of Fame… Stan ‘the man’ is still a big time hero in the St. Louis area.  His entire baseball career, 22 seasons, was spent with the Cardinals…from 1941 to 1963.  He was named to the National League’s All-Star Team 24 times. (Note: For  a few years, there were two All-Star games each year)

 Stan had a lifetime batting average of .331, was 4th all time with 3,630 hits and he won the National League’s batting title 7 times.  He was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player 3 times, won 3 World Series titles and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1969.  Stan Musial is currently the longest tenured living Hall of Famer at 91 years of age…

Ozzie Smith is another Cardinal’s favorite… Osborne Earl  Smith was fast and he made many fantastic defensive plays, many of which Laurie and I witnessed.  Ozzie had a MLB recorded 8,375 put out assists and 1,510 double plays.  He set a National League record, playing 2,511 career games at shortstop.  Ozzie also had 580 stolen bases, earned 13 National League Gold Glove awards as well as being selected for the League’s All-Star team on 15 occassions.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of elegibilty…with 91.7% of the vote!

I love this sculpture of Casey Stengel!   I remember him looking exactly like he was depicted by the artist!  One of the reasons that I remember Casey so well is that I was a Detroit Tigers fan during his reign with the Yankees.  Casey and the Yankees won the American League Title 10 times and the World Series 7 times while he was managing the team! 

The old “Perfesser” as he was called, played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants and the Boston Braves…from 1912 until 1925.  Then he went on to manage the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, New York Yankees (f0r 12 years!), and the New York Mets…beginning in 1934 and retiring in 1965.

We were amazed by these life-like and life-sized statues of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.  Each of them was carved from one piece of laminated basswood by Armand La Montagne from North Scituate Rhode Island.  Everything you see is carved from wood…the clothes, the caps, etc.

This photo is a little blurry…but it represents the only skill that I had when I played baseball.  I could hit pretty well.  But this batter/professional baseball player who’s skill is graphically demonstrated above, was one of the best hitters ever!  The space occupied by the balls represents the strike zone for Ted Williams.  The number shown on the balls is his batting average for that segment or portion of the strike zone.  No spot in the strike zone was safe!

Ted Williams lifetime batting average was .344 and he was the last major league baseball player to hit over .400 for a season…(.406 in 1941).  Ted spent all 21 years in major league baseball with the Boston Red Sox.  He won the American League’s MVP award twice, the batting crown 6 times, the triple crown twice and he was voted on to the American League’s All-Star team 19 times.
Despite the fact that he spelled trouble for my Tigers, I was always fasinated when he came up to bat.  His lifetime on-base percentage was 48%!  The “Splendid Splinter” as he was called, was elected to the Hall of Fame on the 1st ballot with 93.38% of the vote!

Yes, I couldn’t resist.  I had to pay homage to my favorite player for the Detroit Tigers…from back in my younger days!  The plaque tells his story.  He had a .297 lifetime batting average, had over 3,000 hits.   Al Kaline was durable (22 years as a player for the Tigers), he had a great glove, a great arm and he was always exciting to watch.  He was elected to the American League’s All-Star team 18 times and he was awarded a gold glove 10 times.

The best part about this story is that at 77 years of age, Al Kaline still works in the front office for the Tigers…in fact he’s know as “Mr. Tiger”.

I thought that it would be appropriate to end our tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame with a tip of the cap to the unsung heros of baseball…the Umpires.  This painting by Norman Rockwell was for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post back on April 23, 1949.  It has several names…”Three Umpires”; “Game Called Because of Rain”; “Bottom of the Sixth”, or my favorite; “Tough Call”. 
The true hard core baseball fan could lose themselves at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Even for casual fans such as Laurie and I, it was well worth the trip to Cooperstown as well as the price of admission. ($19.50 Adults/$17.50 AAA and $12.00 Seniors/$10.75 AAA) For more information, just go to: http://baseballhall.org/.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Thanks for sharing the hall of fame in your excellent blog!

  2. Sounds like you enjoyed your tour. I got to see Bob Gibson pitch once and was seated where we were right behind him during pregame warm ups - back when the bullpen was out on the field. I could not believe what the ball was doing and it gave me a whole new appreciation for major league hitters. I can't remember who the other team was, but the Cardinals won handily.

  3. I'm not a big major league baseball fan, but I do appreciate the game. This is one place on my list of museums to visit and I totally enjoyed your post. Belated Happy New Year to you and Laurie!