Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cooperstown: In Search of the Bloody Sock

Cooperstown 2.0.  I should have realized that the old adage "What goes around, comes around" is not an old adage for nothing.  It was 1984, and my parents had driven adolescent JMR to Cooperstown to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was a baseball stat geek and my parents thought that bringing me to the baseball mecca would bring a smile to my face.  Despite the length of the drive and all of the effort that my parents made, I was in and out of the Hall of Fame in about an hour.  And I wanted to go home.  Even the promise of baseball cards couldn't sway me.  I really wanted to go home.  So home we went.  They probably figured why waste the money on a hotel if the reason why they were there in the first place (me) didn't want to be there either.  Ever since then, I wanted to go back to see what I missed.  To really SEE the Hall of Fame.  I waited for nine years after my first son was born, but I finally got a chance to go back to the Hall of Fame.  Would Karma be a bitch?

That's the backdrop to our Cooperstown jaunt this past weekend.

9am.  Cooperstown, NY.  After leaving at 4:30 in the morning, stopping three times and making our way through numerous county roads reminiscent of a scene out of The Ring, we arrived to a burgeoning snowstorm outside of the Hall of Fame.  We did manage to park in one of the diagonal spots right in front of the Hall of Fame, so that was a good thing considering the weather.  Or was it sign that we picked the wrong time of year to visit this place?  I think my daughter can answer that for me with the look on her face as I reach out to take her out of the car.  That's OK, she'll have fun looking at old gloves, baseballs and bats.  I just know it!

Right Before the Snow
"Dad, can we go home now?"  She asks me.

"No sweetheart, we just got here.  Maybe in a couple of hours."

"A couple of hours later?"  She looks at me like I just lost her blanket.  Jeesh.

My 7 year old son, on the other hand, was on a mission to find Curt Schilling's bloody sock and bounded right in.  My nine year old was excited to see what this was all about.  At least that what I deducted from him being face down playing with his iTouch.  He did not ask to go home, yet so I feel that I am playing with the house's money right now.

First Floor.  The first Exhibit we see is the baseball-themed art gallery.  Paintings from Leroy Nieman, Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell line the walls.  We did not spend a lot of time in this exhibit, needless to say.  I have to admit, even I don't get the Warhol painting of Tom Seaver.  Tom Seaver?

Second Floor.  After walking up the stairs, past the Cow dressed up like a New York Yankee (or was Joba Chamberlain's wax figure borrowed from down the street), we sat down to watch the Baseball Experience.  A well done production of the history of baseball and similar to the movie that greets you at the Patriots Hall of Fame.  After that, the Second Floor of the Museum was a mish mash of old stuff that the boys were more or less disinterested in studying.  I thought that the Negro League and Babe Ruth Exhibits were pretty cool, myself.  Unfortunately, they were text and writing-heavy - not a good thing when you have Mom and the kids waiting at the end of the exhibit ready to move on. 

Third Floor.  My favorite floor featuring the Records Room, an exhibit that includes memorabilia from all of the baseball records - famous and obscure alike.  The kids were interested in this section including the year to year records update.  Although it may have been more about the blinking lights than the records, themselves.  I found it especially interesting that Pete Rose's hits record was showcased, but Barry Bonds was nowhere to be found with his two home run records - perhaps this was a sign that Rose would soon be welcomed back.  When I mentioned this to the girls, all I got was "who's Barry Bonds" blank stares.  And later on in the exhibit, G finally got to see that nasty bloody sock of Curt Schilling's.  On top of the gross dried blood, come to find out it was one of those long sanitary socks.  OK G, let's move on this is making me sick to my stomach.

One side note:  My favorite part about my first trip to Cooperstown was the baseball card exhibit.  This time, the baseball card exhibit seemed to be an after thought.  The exhibit didn't seem to have been updated since 1989 and was tucked in a dark corner behind the baseball and cricket makeshift exhibit.  Even the T-206 Honus Wagner Card seemed to be shuffled off to the side.  Too bad.

First Floor.  The piece de resistance of the Baseball Hall of Fame - the plaques of all of the Hall of Famers.  I don't remember this presentation when I first visited the Hall of Fame - a sunlit room down a long corridor.  Plaques lining both sides of the wall with the first Hall of FamersFrick area, a weak exhibit about baseball at the movies and spent about an hour in the gift shop. A little anti-climactic. 

The entire tour took about an hour and a half.  About the same as my first journey.  I can just hear my Mom and Dad laughing at me. 

The kids' favorite parts?  DLG and C said the Baseball Experience movie.  G, of course said the bloody sock exhibit.  At least they remembered enough to have favorite parts.  Good enough for me.

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