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A father-son pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown

  • Poet Donald Hall wrote in his essay Fathers Playing Catch With Sons that “baseball is continuous, like nothing else among American things, an endless game of repeated summers, joining the long generations of all the fathers and all the sons.”
  • Smartly, the hall offers kids a scavenger hunt to keep them interested through exhibits that may be less engaging, such as typical equipment from the mid-to-late 1800s (where some of the catcher’s gear calls to mind medieval torture devices) or the room showcasing baseball in art (which features not just…
  • Another impressive innovation is accessible in the exhibit on all-time records, essentially a paean to obscure and since-surpassed record-holders such as Ned Williamson (the single-season home run champion prior to Babe Ruth) and Sophie Kurys (the stolen base champion of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League).
  • One interactive exhibit allows visitors to surf through all-time and active-player record-holders for a wide variety of statistics on a year-by-year basis, letting fans track the evolution of baseball’s key statistics to their heart’s content.
  • Baseball fans may come to Cooperstown with deeply held team loyalties, but the plaque room, even more than the rest of the hall, is a demilitarized zone.

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.Poet Donald Hall wrote in his essay Fathers Playing Catch With Sons that

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.

Poet Donald Hall wrote in his essay Fathers Playing Catch With Sons that “baseball is continuous, like nothing else among American things, an endless game of repeated summers, joining the long generations of all the fathers and all the sons.”

In 1984, around the time Hall wrote those words, my parents took me to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. For a baseball-obsessed kid, seeing the artifacts of players I had only read about in books was a little slice of heaven.

This summer, I made another pilgrimage to the 81-year-old brick edifice located just blocks from the shore of Otsego Lake, about a four-hour drive northwest of New York City. With my baseball-obsessed 9-year-old son.

My connection to baseball is a bit eccentric. Since the middle of high school, I have not been a particularly active fan, so I have added relatively little current baseball knowledge to my brain over the past three decades, filling it instead with the political trivia I’ve accumulated as a professional journalist. But I haven’t forgotten the old stuff — the tales and statistics of players of the 1800s, the 1920s and the 1950s, eras I experienced vicariously, and in great depth, as a bookwormish kid.

That’s a lot of what’s showcased at the hall, so I was eager to share it with my son.

Cooperstown has 2,400 year-round residents, a charming main street, a picturesque lakefront and several…

A father-son pilgrimage to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown

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