Trek to the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Tuesday 12th October 2010
In this article
  • Why you need to visit Cooperstown, New York.
  • How to convince the woman in your life to join you.
  • Other things to do in Cooperstown besides baseball.
Trek to the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Work got you down? Do you long for the days when summer was a carefree vacation from real life? Sure, you take a little vacation every year, but aren’t you getting a little burnt out on camping and boating? Don’t you dread that annual trek to Disney World or visiting your in-laws in St. Louis? Doesn’t today’s SharpMan deserve better? We feel your pain and are here to help. Our advice: forget all your troubles and head east young man — to The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Sound interesting? Read on...

Small Town, USA

Located in Central New York State, Cooperstown is 70 miles west of Albany, and 30 miles south of the New York State Thruway. A small lakeside village, visiting Cooperstown is like stepping into a time machine and dialing back 100 years to a time when people were friendly to strangers, the streets were clean and safe and barbershop quartets performed on street corners in the evening. Charming is an understatement. It is America at its most innocent.

The Hall of Fame

But before we get into all the "charm" and "historical stuff," first things first... Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and therefore an absolute must for any baseball fan. Awe inspiring, the hall is a tribute to the sport and the men that breathed life into our national pastime. Ruth, Cobb, Aaron and Banks are all here, presented in glowing tribute like an army of baseball talent. Whether it’s the very first baseball, the contract documenting the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, or a montage of last season’s Yankee repeat championship, the museum’s collection of pictures, statistics, records and memorabilia is second to none. Watch today’s modern parks of brick and steel rise from the old time sandlots and wooden castles; see how uniforms and equipment have evolved over the last 100 plus years; or check out exhibits on Women in Baseball, the Negro Leagues, Minor and Youth Leagues, baseball in the movies, baseball cards and even baseball music. If it’s baseball, it’s here.

The Details

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (http://baseballhall.org/) is open seven days a week throughout the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Summer hours: May 1 through September 30, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Winter hours: October 1 through April 30, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Adults $9.50, Seniors $8, Juniors (7-12) $4. There is no charge for children six and under. Discounts are available for AAA members. Telephone: (888) Hall-of-Fame or (607) 547-7200.

The Town

The head-first slide into the legend and lore of our national pastime doesn’t end with the Hall of Fame. The entire picturesque colonial town of Cooperstown is dedicated to its baseball heritage. Be sure to stop by the Where It All Began Bat Co. and have your signature engraved on an actual major league bat fresh out of the local factory. While you are waiting, take a peak at the world’s largest baseball bat (18’, 1500 pounds). And look for Mickey’s Place (http://www.mickeysplace.com/), one of many memorabilia shops carrying team apparel from the major, minor, college, Negro and Japanese leagues.

Hungry? There is no fast food and no Starbucks in Cooperstown — just old-fashioned "Mom and Pop" restaurants. Try a BBQ-chicken sandwich at the Shoeless Joe Cafe or have a home-style breakfast at the Shortstop Coffee Shop.

And by all means, don’t forget to visit Doubleday Field — the original diamond laid out by Abner Doubleday, the father of baseball. This is not merely "a" baseball field, it’s "the" baseball field. Take the time to watch an amateur game on this historic spot and be reminded of how the game was meant to be played. Suddenly develop an itch to swing the old lumber yourself? Great! Step into the Doubleday Batting Cages adjacent to the field and take your hacks at classic sliders, curves and knucklers from a pitching machine.

But My Wife/Girlfriend Hates Baseball

No problem. Even if your significant other doesn’t care to know an RBI from an ERA, Cooperstown is still the place for you — you’ll just have to be a little creative with your sales pitch. It’s all in the presentation. Instead of saying, "Hey, how about we take a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer?" try:

"I just heard about this great little town in upstate New York that is supposed to be beautiful and really romantic. It’s nestled [be sure to use "nestled", it sounds cozy] right on a big lake and they have this 200-year-old bed and breakfast and lots of cute shops and restaurants. What do you think?"

If that doesn’t do the trick, you might as well pop in a tape of Fried Green Tomatoes and kiss the next 30 years good-bye. You ain’t goin’ nowhere.

In fact, there are actually plenty of non-baseball things to do in Cooperstown. You can take a cruise on Lake Otsego aboard the Chief Uncas; visit the Fenimore Art Museum; check out the Farmer’s Museum or (should she feel generous) visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

How Do You Get To Cooperstown?

Practice, practice, practice... Sorry, old joke. Actually, the easiest and most economical pilgrimage route to the baseball mecca requires flying into Newark, New Jersey, renting a car and driving the 225 miles into town. You can also land in either of the New York airports, but Newark is far less crowded and a bit closer. The majority of the drive is incredibly scenic. Upstate New York is one of the most beautiful areas of the country, as well as one of the best-kept secrets. Once out of the city, rolling fields, evergreens and farms escort you on the 3.5-hour tour. There are a number of highway options to follow, so pick up a map to choose yours — they all work. To really enjoy the drive, watch your map and try some of the smaller (but more direct) rural routes. You’ll be moving a bit slower, but passing through a number of charming towns with more history and character.

If driving isn’t your bag, there is commercial air service to Albany, Utica and Syracuse, but flights are limited and expensive. Private air service is available directly to the Cooperstown-Westville Airport (607-286-9013).

Finally, Pine Hills Trailways provides twice-a-day round trip service between Cooperstown and the NYC Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Where To Stay

The fanciest place in town is the Otesaga Resort Hotel (www.otesaga.com). Built in 1909, it sits on the Leatherstocking Golf Course and provides an amazing view of Lake Otsego. Complete with a game room for the kids, outdoor heated pool and tennis courts, summer season double occupancy rates range from $300-$500 per night. Another option is the Tunnicliff Inn (www.cooperstownchamber.org/tunnicliff/) located in the heart of the historic district, a half block from the Hall of Fame. Built in 1802 and refurbished in 1986, the Inn provides charming, comfortable accommodations with a private bath, phone and television in each of the 17 rooms starting at less than $200 per night. Additional bed and breakfasts and motels can be found at www.cooperstownchamber.org.

An Unforgettable Experience

Be advised that visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame can be quite a moving experience, especially for the serious fan. Even though, as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, "There’s no crying in baseball," the true SharpMan knows there may be in Cooperstown. Enjoy your trip!

This article last updated on Thursday 9th February 2012
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