Tuesday, November 04, 2008

J. and I went to Cooperstown the weekend before last. This was a little different that the standard trip, since we were were going to be sleeping in the Plaque Gallery inside the Hall of Fame.

I had found out about this a couple of months before and signed us up. I picked up J. at school early and we had an uneventful four hour drive to Cooperstown. We got there just after 5, ate sandwiches we had brought for dinner and went inside to register at 5:30.

After moving the car off Main St. into Cooper Park for the night, we went into the Plaque Gallery to set up our sleeping area. I had wanted the area under Carl Yastrzemski's plaque, but it was already taken by some Phillies fans (Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt are in the same area). So we set up under Ted Williams. Here's a picture of our spot.

J. took this picture from his air matress:

After we finished setting up, we were allowed to explore the museum for nearly two hours. Since there were only 29 people a the sleepover, it meant that we practically had the place to ourselves. We saw some cool new exhibits. Here are a few highlights.

This is the ball that Barry Bonds hit for home run number 756. It has the asterisk that Mark Ecko carved into it after an Internet survey. The card next to it explained all that and that, while the Hall of Fame doesn't condone defacing artifacts, it is displaying the ball because of it's historical significance.

Here are Jon Lester's shoes and a ball from his no-hitter last May.

Here's the highlight - the 2007 World Series display with Jason Varitek's uniform front and center.

This isn't new, but I thought it was pretty cool. It's the cornerstone from Shibe Park in Philadelphia, the first steel and concrete Major League Baseball stadium. It was the home of the Philadelphia A's until they moved to Kansas City, and the Phillies home until Veterans Stadium opened in 1971.

After we finished in the museum, we went to the Bullpen Theater and saw a movie and had a snack. The movie was The Sandlot, an entertaining flick about some kids playing baseball in early 1960's Los Angeles and their attempts to get a Babe Ruth autographed baseball back from a giant dog. Neither of us had seen it before, and it was fun to watch.

Before bedtime, we were treated to a ghost story from one of the Hall of Fame staff. Apparently, the ghost of Hall of Famer Eddie Plank haunts the Hall of Fame. He has been seen warming up with an unknown catcher. Plank pitched mostly for the A's in the early part of the 20th century and was the winningest lefty in baseball history until Warren Spahn broke his record in the 1960's.

We went to sleep and I slept pretty well. The air mattress was fairly comfortable and fortunately there weren't any big snorers among our fellow campers. We got up around 7:00, had breakfast and were ushered outside so the staff could clean up before the Hall opened at 9. We walked around Cooperstown until the Hall reopened and spent an additional three hours inside, including a visit to the gift shop.

After we were done in the museum we had our traditional lunch at The Shortstop Restaurant. After lunch we walked around Main Street for a bit and bought J. a bat at the Cooperstown Bat Co. He had expressed some interest in hitting with a wooden bat so I bought him one and had it engraved with his name. He's been using it at his baseball clinic with some good results.

We headed home after that. It was a great trip and a unique experience.


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