Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit a place I have long dreamed of going to, a place I never thought I’d be able to visit. You see, The National Baseball Hall of Fame is located in upstate New York in a small town called Cooperstown. Certainly, this boy from Illinois wouldn’t travel 800 miles to go to a place that has nothing around it… Or would he.
You see, Albany never made it on my radar before I moved here. I thought that New York was, well, New York City…which for 40% of New Yorker’s is the case. However, having moved up here last year I began to realize that Cooperstown was a short jaunt away. And I realized exactly how much upstate NY had to offer. It truly is a special area.
I set out going west from Saratoga down 29 and weaved and meandered through some of the most beautiful country. Mountains, the Adirondacks, and farm fields soon gave way to a beautiful lake view and a small town named Cooperstown. As I crossed what I would later find out is the only bridge in Cooperstown, I saw what reminded me of Bedford Falls. I looked for the Bailey Savings and Loan – but not finding it, managed to locate some beautiful buildings – a thriving downtown – and most importantly the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The excitement ensued as I found a free parking space and began the 3/4 of a mile trek past the Ostego county building toward the Hall of Fame. Saying hello to the mail man who was enthralled with his smart phone – must be checking baseball scores – I proceeded east. As I arrived at the door, I opened it and went in. This place is a dream for me…and I had no idea what lurked beyond.
As I entered, I listened to the old farts ahead of me – they weren’t from NY – give the poor receptionist a hard time as she tried to sell the membership. For me, she wouldn’t need the spiel. I just had to determine which team I would affiliate with. Which team would be mine for the next year.
On one hand, I had my beloved Cardinals. The team I grew up loving. The team that made the Cubs look so awful. The team that encompasses over half of Illinois fandom. The team who I once had a vast collection of items from – only to be swept away by the negligence of my neighbor. The team that I could only bear to watch one game for in 2015 – a game I watched in Bloomington.
The other hand had a team that was new to me. A team that I have grown to love. A team that doesn’t have a storied history as the Cardinals…or the successes of her big sister, the evil Yankees that I have despised. Yeah, I chose the underdogs. I chose the Mets.
I can’t wait to return. Having a membership helped me not to feel I had to do it all – though I spent the better part of the day there. I will return. I can’t wait. If it wasn’t 66 miles from my house, I’d be there every day. I’d quit my day job. You see, I love baseball.
But what was probably the biggest surprise was that they didn’t clear the 2015 case. I got to see Sean Conroy’s display. He was featured prominently in the book I read – a book about baseball and statistics. A book that brought back memories of my Econometrics class – a class that gave me a love for math. And, perhaps, one day I will have the opportunity to meet someone who is in the hall. Maybe it will be my hero Ozzie Smith – or maybe it will be someone a bit less famous, but someone who made history. We shall see. For me, though, baseball it a way of life. It is truly America’s sport. And I couldn’t be more excited than a pig in mud with my visit. I will be back. Maybe I can find a way to get there this summer for induction. That would be a life’s dream fulfilled…